Reducing Young Adults’ Food Waste

Stock is a product system designed to gently but firmly guide young adults to reduce their food waste. Food waste created by this demographic is predominantly the result of poor food habits. By improving these habits through constant monitoring, education and awareness, food waste can be reduced.

stock up. waste less.

helping young adults to reduce their food waste

Australian young adults have been identified as one of largest contributors to domestic food waste, wasting 10.7% of food per person, per year. This means that 300 kg of food, $780 (AUD), tonnes of pesticides and millions of litres of water are wasted. The majority of young adults hate food waste as it contributes to environmental, financial and social problems.

For this demographic, bad food habits are the leading contributor to their food waste. To make matters worse, they lack the experience and guidance needed to improve these food habits.

Stock bridges this gap by providing the user with the tools, motivation and guidance to improve their food habits and reduce their waste.

Infographic of leading factors.
Stylised image of food waste in a dumpster.

Current domestic food waste-reducing products do not appeal to young adults. These products, mostly compost bins, require space, effort and a lot of time and maintenance to get right.

Stock is a convenient but effective solution that guides young adults to food habits that allow them to get the most out of their food, saving waste, money and resources.

In context model photograph of user filling fridge with fresh food.
In context model photograph of user filling fridge with fresh food.

Stock is a system of Stock Cubes that monitor the users food in their fridge. The Antenna Cube sends data via WiFi to the Stock database and to the user’s phone app. It is connected to the Sensor Cubes via ribbon cables. The low profile of the ribbon cable allows it to sit under the fridge seal with minimal disruption. Along this cable, the Sensor Cube sends data collected from its camera and ethylene sensors. Several Sensor Cubes can be added around the fridge’s interior to increase the accuracy and efficiency of food identification.

The camera is activated when food is moved past it with the use of a motion sensor. Once activated, the camera records this food. If it has successfully captured the food’s image, it will beep to let the user know.

The data is processed by Artificial Intelligence, which uses a database of food to identify the images sent to it. Once identified, the food is recorded in the user’s app, where a log of when it should be used by and how to use it in recipes is also kept. The app also keeps a convenient shopping list and allows the user to compare the cost of food products to get the best deal.

Infographic style mock layout of Stock installed on a fridge.
Infographic of data transmission path.
Labelled photograph of final design prototype model detailing aspects.

This means that the user is kept aware and accountable of the food they have in their fridge with minimal effort on their part. No longer will they let food rot because they bought too much or forgot about it. Not only does this reduce food waste, but it also saves the user money, increases their repertoire of recipes and gets them into a habit of understanding what food they have and how to use it.

User interacting with Stock phone app.

The Stock phone app is the main interface for the user. Here, they can see an up-to-date list of the food they have at home. The app uses a colour coding system as a visual aid to inform users of the freshness of their food. When a food item gets close to its calculated expiry date, the user will get notifications to eat it, and tips and recipes on how to do so. In this way, the Stock system takes the hard work and guessing out of daily tasks like buying, storing and cooking food.

mockup of different Stock phone app screens.

The Stock Cube system is easy to install and renter-friendly, using strong 3M tape to secure the Cubes to the fridge without any damage.

Stock is also great for share-houses as the app allows food to be added to a shared list. Food that one user may not want or will not eat before it expires can be added to this list so that their housemates can eat it instead.

Users were consulted about the functions and aesthetics of Stock throughout the design process. Stock’s current design is a direct result of the information collected from these consultations.

The original design idea behind Stock came from the users themselves. They said that they wanted a product that would do the hard work and guessing for them. Specifically, they wanted their food to be tracked and organised for them. Furthermore, some users wanted to be more involved in changing their food habits. Stock caters for both involvement levels. It gives users the option to sit back and rely on notifications and recipe suggestions, or actively look through their app to see their options. AI, sensor technology and an app were used to bring this to fruition.

The majority of users preferred the modules to be square and white. They wanted them to blend into their refrigerators and not be an eye-sore. This was achieved with glossy, white recycled nylon plastic and polycarbonate plastic. These materials are durable, suitable for use in a refrigerator and match its interior. This creates a high-quality, modern and clean aesthetic.

The Stock system is a unique product for its category. While it combines pre-existing and proven artificial intelligence, networking and sensing technology, using them in a domestic context for food waste reduction means it stands out in the market. With no real comparable competitors and the ability to fill a maligned market gap, Stock has the potential to be a profitable and popular product.

Food waste resulting from poor food habits by end users is not isolated to young adults. Adults above the age of 25 years would also benefit from Stock. While Stock is currently focused on young Australian adults, it has great potential to be marketed and sold to adults in other countries with similar food waste problems to Australia. Research suggests that users from the United States of America, Canada, Italy and Poland would also be good candidates for Stock.

Final design prototype model photograph.

The walls, lid, base, micro USB covers and button covers are all injection moulded. Each material used is suitable for this manufacturing method. The parts have all been designed with draft angles, outer walls of 2 millimetre thickness, ribs of 1.2 millimetre thickness, fillets on all corners and edges and no undercuts. To avoid undercuts, the walls were split into two parts where the cut-outs for the micro USB ports and button are.

With intuitive technology and a design tailored to suit their needs, Stock is a convenient, helpful and effective system of products that can guide young adults to reduce their food waste.

Branding image with logo and ethos.

Jemma Barker

Jemma Barker is passionate about designing for people. User centred design and research are her strongest skills, and she also greatly enjoys prototyping. These skills align well, allowing her to understand the user, their wants and their needs. By doing this, she can provide them with the best solution to seamlessly but noticeably improve aspects of their lives.