Food recycling station

November 3, 2020
Module is suitable for
The Food recycling station is a refurbished old shipping container that is used to sort-out and redistribute food from small scale "food-rescue" operations: the collection of wasted food from supermarkets and food distribution centers. If food is stored in the container, it should be very well insulated. A green roof, and an earthen wall against the south side, is highly recommended. Refurbishment can be done with recycled wood and insulation material.


Food rescue is an activity mainly done by volunteers. It enables them to learn about food, about the food system, food preservation, and to contribute to food security and take action against food waste. For one target group, one or two food collections per week is a good schedule. Most food that is picked up can be stored for the week. On one distribution day, and after sorting, the container acts as a food hub which can on the average store and display enough food for 20 to 50 packages, depending on how much the "customers" take.

It is rather easy to mobilise volunteers for this activity if it is only for a couple of hours per week. One advantage for the volunteers is that they can have first access to the food, and can obtain much of their weekly food needs for free. Based on a 4-hour schedule per week, per volunteer, this operation can be done with between 10 and 20 volunteers and one or two coordinators who spend one or two entire days per week on the activity. This does not count extra activities like administration or promotion.

However, it is not an easy task to coordinate all those volunteers! New volunteers need to be trained, and they need to work in a responsible way. Communication is also very labour intensive.

Food safety regulations need to be obeyed. This means that food rescue has been limited to fruits, vegetables and dry products that do not require strict cooling protocols (during the whole chain). Furthermore, working surfaces must be cleanable, and working above the ground needs to be guaranteed.

Materials and construction

Based on the scale described above, the following materials are indispensable:

  • Transport bike, or a borrowed car
  • Around 20 food crates
  • Clean water source to wash the crates
  • Stainless steel tables- Storage (animal-proof)
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