Tackling food waste in Camden

About the project

Title: Uneaten
Type of work: Service design / porposed service for Camden Council
Date: November - December 2014
Extent of the project: 6 weeks, full-time

Food waste is a problem of immense dimensions. In Camden (the London Borough) alone, households throw away 1720 tons per month, which equals one olympic sized swimming pool full of food that is not eaten. Uneaten is a new service that targets the problem of people throwing uneaten food away because they forget to keep track of the food they store at home. With uneaten, the information of the food you buy is automatically stored on your device, along with respective expiry dates. It sends you reminders when specific items are about to expire, and gives you the option of looking for ingredients, giving the item away, or finding friends with matching ingredients to cook with.

Uneaten is a group project, developed in collaboration with Hangil Song, Andrea Fischer, and Yuljae Lee.

The design

One of the key insights we gained from our research was that people are unaware of the monetary value of the food they waste, i.e. they don’t know how much money they literally throw in the bin. Uneaten enables this type of self-monitoring, and also lets you track your recycling rate. One of the key touchpoints we identified in the journey was storing and emptying the food recycling bin. Thus we also proposed a redesigned bin and container that makes storing food waste feel more hygienic.

Uneaten logo Uneaten login screen

Uneaten takes the form of an app because it is convenient to have information about what is in your fridge and cupborard, whenever you decide to go food shopping.

Self-monitoring screen

With the new food caddy, you can self-monitor your recycling rate, and how much money you waste on uneaten food.

Storing information

Uneaten stores the details of the food in your cupboards and fridge at home, including expiry dates. Once you've eaten an item, you simply swipe to delete.


When an item in your fridge or cupboard is about to expire, Uneaten sends you a reminder. You can then browse recipes containing that item, find friends to cook with, or give it away.

Redesign of food caddy

The redesigned food caddy comes in several sizes depending on need and household size, and when adding more food waste to the caddy, you avoid being confronted with the already decomposing food waste.

Redesign of emptying food caddy

A pain point of today's food recycling is emptying the smelly content of the smelly food caddy into the smelly container. With the new caddy, there is no need to be confronted with your decomposing food waste.

The story of Uneaten

A glimpse of the process

Besides from spending quite some time with the local people in different areas of Camden, we also distributed a one-week food diary (cultural probe); asking people to record what they ate and threw away each day with the help of a camera. Furthermore, we set up a stall in Queen’s Crescent market for a weekend to have a chat with people from demographically diverse backgrounds. A food-chain — from manifacturing to landfill — helped us understand the different stakeholders and challenges that involve both production, consumption and recycling of food.

Learning about people's habits

Learning about people's recycling habits.

Community garden recycling

Some locals were keen to show us how they recycled, and what they thought worked well, and what could be improved. Here in a community garden.

Going through trash

We found that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their trash. We also went through our own.

Cultural probe

The one-week food waste diary (cultural probe) that we distributed to (and got back from) around half a dozen families.

Cultural probe stickers

It aimed to make recording what you throw away easy and as fun as possible.

Stall at Queen's Crescent Market

We also set up a stall at Queen's Crescent Market, and had a chat with people living in the nearby area.

Barriers and lifecycle

Understanding the journey — or lifecycle — from production to landfill or recycling helped us be clearer on what the main barriers to recycling are, and when they presented themselves.

Bin run

We also went on a bin run with the recycling truck around Camden.

Stakeholder map

The simplified stakeholder map.

lifecycle or food journey

People's emotional responses to each stage of the food journey mapped on the lifecycle.