Apr 29, 2019

When it comes to our work lives, there are few things more motivating than focusing on developing solutions to one of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. In our case, that’s global food waste, which accounts for eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2014, Beaverton-based Leanpath has empowered culinary teams to prevent more than 30 million pounds of food from being wasted around the globe.

We started the company back in 2004 because we noted a major disconnect in foodservice kitchens -- food was going to waste every day, but it lacked appropriate visibility and wasn’t being aggressively addressed. We saw food waste as the “elephant in the kitchen” and realized that chefs needed a measurement-focused solution to reduce it -- because we know that what organizations measure well, they manage well. We suspected that there was an opportunity to generate financial savings, but when we learned more about the extensive environmental negatives of food waste -- such as air and water pollution -- our work quickly took on a much larger dimension.

Consider a typical food service kitchen. Food waste has long been thought of as just one cost of doing business, but it really costs organizations in five ways -- the cost of the food itself, the labor to produce it, the utility costs, the disposal costs, and the lost profit on the waste. That really adds up.

We provide the integrated hardware and software technology (scales, cameras, analytics platform, and more) that enables foodservice organizations to track, measure, and categorize every case of food waste in their kitchens. The captured data feed a robust analytics platform, allowing chefs to study the drivers of their waste with high granularity.  By analyzing the data, they can make the operational changes to not only reduce food waste but prevent it from recurring. Our platform includes a suite of tools to fit the needs of all kitchens and includes coaching from experts with a deep culinary experience, allowing foodservice operations to reduce their food waste by as much as 50 percent.

At Leanpath we also recognize the importance of people. We believe that frontline foodservice workers are the real change agents in the global fight against food waste.  We put them first, connecting them to the power of the food waste story and giving them the tools to drive waste-reduction behavior in kitchens. They are a powerful force in contributing to a sustainable future by optimizing the use of our precious food resources.  

So, we are assisting hundreds of organizations to reduce their carbon footprint by cutting their food waste, too much of which ends up in landfills that emit greenhouse gases.

With an ever-increasing awareness that we must make deep changes in how we do business if we want to rein in climate change, there are tens of thousands of people around Oregon who are ready to receive the training needed to take on clean energy jobs, like the ones we have at Leanpath. When people think of clean energy jobs, images of rooftop solar panels or wind farms usually come to mind, but the expanse of clean energy jobs is much broader. Our company is a powerful testament to that fact.

This is the underlying reality of the proposed Clean Energy Jobs bill that is currently under consideration in the Oregon legislature. The bill would foster the creation of yet more companies that are inspired to make similar innovations to create a more sustainable future through reduced emissions.

The law will set off a chain reaction of creativity that will have a profoundly positive effect on every Oregonian. Think of it. Clean Energy Jobs will secure greenhouse gas reductions, and at the same time, fund reinvestment into communities across Oregon to create clean energy jobs and a thriving economy.

The Clean Energy Jobs bill is an ingenious way to move away from our addiction to fossil fuels while also leveraging the proceeds to train workers for well-paying jobs in a wide range of clean energy industries like ours at Leanpath. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

It is increasingly obvious to me that Leanpath is one of those companies at the leading edge of an economic revolution in Oregon, one that is dedicated to building a more solid foundation driving environmental sustainability. We look forward to welcoming other Oregonians to join the effort to slow climate change.