The circular economy on your screen


Photo: Otavamedia. Digital applications have reduced food waste at restaurants.


An article from Special international issue, published in 31.5.2017.


Digital applications reduce food waste at restaurants, improve the efficiency of waste management at construction sites and promote the recycling of goods.

Lauri Lehtinen

Touch the screen to promote the circular economy. Finnish businesses have developed a number of digital and smart technology-based applications and solutions that promote the circular economy in daily life and at the workplace.


ResQ the dinner

What can a lunch restaurant do if there is food left over from the lunch hour? It can use the ResQ service. The service has been specifically developed to promote the use of surplus food from restaurants and to reduce food waste.

Customers using the service can browse leftover portions through a smart phone app or Internet browser. For example, unsold lunches can be purchased at approximately half price after lunch hour. You order the food and pay through the application and pick up your meal within the time frame specified by the restaurant.

Leftover food is normally nothing but costs and trouble for the restaurant. If they sell ten take away meals in a day at five euros each, the restaurant will earn approximately 7,500 euros in a year from the service.

‘The service already has 120,000 registered users. It has saved more than 200,000 meals from going to waste,’ explains ResQ’s managing director Tuure Parkkinen.

‘We have expanded our business into Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia in order to learn how the service works in different environments. Finland is an exceptional restaurant country in that up to half of the turnover of the restaurant business comes from lunches,’ Mr Parkkinen notes.


Food is money

Lassila & Tikanoja has also developed ways for minimising food waste. Hävikkimestari is an award-winning easy-to-use application that enables teams to lead and develop their operations in order to reduce food waste.

On a tablet, the monitoring is quick and easy, as the food that would be going to waste is weighed and the data obtained are automatically analysed.

Savings come from changes in behaviour. Restaurants that have tested the service have been able to reduce their food waste by 30 to 50 per cent. Depending on the size of the restaurant, the typical pay-off period is three to ten months. In a large unit, such as a garrison, the savings are high.

In-house digital team

Lassila & Tikanoja has established an in-house digital team for digital solutions. The first digital applications developed by the team went live slightly over a year ago.

‘We have developed new services using the “try and learn” approach. At first, we have considered the feasibility and usefulness of the idea. Then we have developed a prototype application and listened to feedback from our customers. On the basis of the feedback we have then developed the final service,’ explains L&T’s digital mentalist Ville Simola.

Mr Simola says that the ease of use is a key principle for the development of services. According to our customers, digitalisation and an interface used through a smartphone are great means for using services.

In addition to the Hävikkimestari application, there are two other established digital service products.

The Helpponouto digital service is available to private persons and businesses alike. L&T picks up and recycles furniture, household appliances, books, records, electronics, etc. – even an entire decedent’s estate. The pick-up service takes the items away to be recycled or disposed of on behalf of the customer.

The Raksanappi application organises the sorting and removal of material generated at construction sites that is possibly suitable for recycling. The applications are designed so that they work also as expert services.

Efficiency for on-site material flows

With the help of the Raksanappi application, construction and demolition companies can use their mobile devices to order exactly the pallets they need at the site. The share of online orders of all exchange pallet orders has increased in recent months. Now the development of the application has progressed to the point that the service will be expanded to cover all of Finland.

‘Pilot users have reported that the service is easy to use, quick and reliable, which they appreciate,’ explains Sales Manager Tommi Tupala who is in charge of the service.