In many supply chains, information on a product’s age, origin, condition, and journey oftentimes isn’t centralized, even not tracked at all. Without this data, the goal of waste reduction is going to be much harder to attain. The International Business Machine (IBM), in partnership with global hackathon organization Angelhack, worked with US-based developers in finding technological solutions on food wastage through the inaugural Food Waste Developer Challenge, which was held from July 25 to Aug. 23. 

Out of more than 100 groups that participated, this year’s winning team is FreShip, a software and hardware platform that monitors the freshness of food in food shipping containers. It also provides options on how to resell food that might otherwise go to waste through an e-commerce system. And one of the members of FreShip’s five-person team includes 19-year old Filipino Justin Banusing.

Banusing is an alumnus of the Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas and is currently a sophomore at the University of Washington. He has joined hackathons together with his other teammates, advocating the use of technology to improve lives. Banusing draws his inspiration from the Philippines being an agricultural country and noticed how food wastage causes problem in the importation system.

Using Arduino, an open-source software, and Narrowband-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technologies, food shipping containers will have the resources they need in monitoring food freshness. A Hyperledger Fabric blockchain is a database on a business object’s current value and the changes that led to that specific value. It is connected to an IBM IoT that will deploy smart bidding contracts to a network of smart sensors in the shipping containers. This then allows the shipment to be redirected to manufacturers who want to buy the food and make use of it.

For example, if a shipment of perishable items is bound for delay, it will most likely be thrown out and wasted. But through FreShip, food will be used by other parties instead of being a huge loss to businesses. FreShip estimates that 70 percent  of the amount of food waste will be reduced by 2022 through its technology.

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The team of FreShip received $3,000 and an IBM-sponsored exclusive dinner with the leaders of the US grocery industry. Banusing and his team are still working on new developments for FreShip and are looking forward to working with companies in the near future.

With over 820 million people in the world suffering from hunger, solutions that bank on technological advancement will lead to a world where food wastage is a term that no longer exists.

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