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Ellen DeGeneres, Portia DeRossi and Shawn Mendes head to the grocery to tackle America’s food waste

Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Shaun White and Shawn Mendes (or investors acting on their behalf) are looking to tackle the problem of food waste in the U.S. with their investment in a Seattle-based startup company called Shelf Engine.

Getting into the weeds on shipping and logistics and the ordering processes of grocery stores across America may not be glamorous, but solving the food waste problem has knock-on benefits in efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

See, food waste creates more greenhouse gas emissions than the airline industry. Rotting food in landfills isn’t just gross, it also produces huge amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas that’s at least 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide).

So, by eliminating food waste in grocery stores, these celebrities along with investors like General Catalyst (an investment firm) and PLUS Capital (a money manager for people that the firm says “can affect more change in the world in a day than most people can in a lifetime”).

Here’re the wonky details. By using statistical models and machine learning algorithms, Shelf Engine can advise stores on how much food to order and eliminate food waste on grocery store shelves. While larger market dynamics mean that food gets waste throughout the supply chain, tackling waste on the buyer’s side is a good step toward improving usage everywhere.

“Every step we take to eliminate food waste is a step closer to solving food insecurity across the globe,” DeGeneres said in a statement. “Shelf Engine is leading this fight against waste at retailers and grocery stores. The aim is to reduce the amount of fresh food that’s thrown away every day. Portia and I are honored to partner with Shelf Engine. I think it was Madonna who said, ‘Waste not, Want not.’ And we couldn’t agree more. It was either Madonna or Cher.”

[ed. note: It was actually Richard Edwards, who wrote the saying down in 1576 in “THE PARADISE OF DAINTY DEVICES”]

The company estimates that its order automation service reduces food waste by up to 32 percent and improves retail operations by an average gross margin dollar expansion of more than 50 percent.

Since it launched, the company has diverted 1 million pounds of food waste from landfills.

“I’m so proud to have invested in Shelf Engine. They’re a game-changer for the grocery industry and helping people reduce their environmental footprint, and I’m proud to support their mission,” Mendes said.


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