GreenPrice is a social enterprise addressing the problem of food waste by specialising in retailing surplus and short-dated stock. It began in 2016 in a university social innovation competition and became not only a store that offers people an ever-changing selection of quality merchandise at significant discounts, but also a community hub where people can learn and discuss the ways of sustainable living. GreenPrice works to reduce food waste, while combating the high costs of living.
While “use by” date refers to a food item being no longer fit for consumption when that date is passed, the “best before” date indicates the product being no longer at its optimal quality beyond the stated date but may still be safe for consumption. It was estimated that 155 million items of food are thrown away each year in Hong Kong because it has passed the “best before” date. Distributors and retailers may choose to dispose of items that has passed the “best before” date because of liability concerns. Customers may not be aware of the difference between the two types of dates and would be reluctant to purchase “expired” products. Disposing of food that is still safe to eat is a waste of food and takes up valuable landfill space.
GreenPrice aims to educate people through academic discussion, pop-up counters and experiential learning on food labelling, and inspire them to act against food waste. By organising educational campaigns, from school to food distribution programmes, GreenPrice aims to make its services accessible to a wide variety of communities. The physical stores and online business also attract traffic, and allows customers to understand how the quality of short-dated food is still fine to consume. GreenPrice promises that 70% of their distributable profits would be reinvested in the business for the social objectives they pursue.
By running physical stores, the online business as well as educational campaigns, GreenPrice has made its service accessible to the community, offering customers discounted products, a chance to help fight food waste, and education about date labelling and food waste. Founders recounted that when they started in 2016, no distributors would provide them with products to sell and parents would tell their children not to take the tasters at their pop-up stores. Today, over 200 distributors supply GreenPrice with inventory and they operate five physical shops across Hong Kong, demonstrating their efforts have contributed to the change in mindset and behaviour in suppliers and customers. GreenPrice has received multiple awards and grants in recognition of their innovation in tackling issues of waste in Hong Kong.