Can food waste apps make Bucks Appy?

26th Mar 21 by Rebecca Nutley

We still need to challenge supermarkets to waste less and help us only buy what we need, but apps can help stop good food going to waste.

Local-level schemes to help reduce food waste in Bucks have started to sprout up over the last year. I am very open to the idea of free food but sceptical as to whether they really WORK on a local level. As part of Feedback’s Food Citizens Project, I spent this year’s Food Waste Action Week testing if Buckinghamshire is really on the food waste app map.

The main schemes operating in Buckinghamshire are OLIO and Too Good To Go, and their goal is to make surplus food available to others to prevent it being tossed into a bin. If you have a smart phone, registering is as easy as pie!

Testing Too Good To Go – what’s in the ‘Magic Bag’?

This app has an interactive map showing how many retail outlets are ‘live’ and offering ‘Magic Bags’ near your location. What’s a ‘Magic Bag’, I hear you say? Supermarkets, convenience stores, coffee shops and bakeries offer daily bags for a small cost (£2- £6). Organised by location, bags are listed at certain times of the day, to be collected in allocated time slots. Across Bucks, there are a good number of listings – the more strategic user could probably note times and days of the week when more is listed and where to maximise the opportunity. Even this aspect offers a good insight into what could have been wasted without this scheme in place.


Olio was supported by Buckinghamshire County Council four years ago in a countywide launch. However, this scheme is only as strong and effective as the residents and households that use it. According to the app, there are 1,733 OLIOers near me, so I was excited to see what was on offer! The daily listings showed that people are engaging with repurposing food waste; this app easily supports people a) wanting/ needing food, or b) wanting to help items not to go to waste, as all listed food is free. On OLIO, it’s not just fresh or close to date items that are listed – there are also drinks and ambient goods, as well as a range of other non-food items, from upcycled crafts and preloved goods, to toiletries and children’s toys, which is another great way to prevent waste.

So, do these apps work in Buckinghamshire?

The answer is YES!

I was able to test Magic Bags from 4 outlets near Aylesbury. Although certain suppliers do have healthier options (e.g. fresh goods) rather than just bakery items, as a vegetarian, I did wonder if I would find myself with meat products, thus left disappointed and with items I wouldn’t personally use. And indeed, I did receive some meat-based products.

This gave me the perfect chance to try OLIO and see how the ‘giving’ process works and whether anyone would be interested locally. Within an hour of listing items, I had arranged for ‘contactless’ collections to take place.

In conclusion, Too Good To Go, will obviously be more beneficial in town centres or places near listed outlets. OLIO is also a great scheme to be used in urban and rural areas, as long as people actively use it! We still need to challenge supermarkets to waste less in their supply chains and help us to only buy what we need, but these apps can help make sure good food isn’t going to waste. So what are you waiting for? Get to know your cupboards and, if in doubt, why not donate it to someone who could use it!

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