Machine could help save one or two tons of waste annually.

Japan may be known for its impeccable cleanliness and hygiene, but the flipside of that in the food industry is that they can end up with a lot of food waste. In recent years, however, efforts have been made in restaurants and hotels alike to reduce food waste in creative ways like selling fukubukuro lucky bags.

One particular method to tackle the problem in Yokohama City is garnering nationwide attention. Unsold bakery bread from local bread shop Enmichi Pan set to be thrown out at day’s end regardless of expiration date is now being sold in locker-style vending machines in Kannai Station on the Yokohama Subway Line. When Enmichi Pan closes for the day at 7 p.m., they gather bread that hasn’t been sold, mark at least 30 percent off the sale price, and put it in Kannai Station’s SDGs Station Lockers for bread bargain hunters to purchase.

The vending machine is so popular that lines often form even before the lockers have been filled, and all bread inside is sold out before night’s end. It’s estimated that this effort alone could save one or two tons of food waste per year, making it great for the wallet and the planet alike.

Japanese netizens have had a mixed reaction to the news, though, with some in full support of it and others concerned about possible complications in the future.

“I think it’s great to test out, but I worry about safety and hygiene. If someone were to get food poisoning, who would take responsibility? The bakery is also taking a risk; if they sell too many products constantly at a discount, fewer people may buy them at full price.”
“I want one at my local station!”
“This country wastes too much food. I want bentos and burgers to be discounted, too. Just because the sell-by date has passed doesn’t mean it’s bad!”

In any case, many happy buyers are going home with discounted bread at Kannai Station. As the SDGs lockers aren’t exclusively for Enmichi Pan’s bread, we’re curious to see if other local business will use the lockers for similar efforts.

Image: Pakutaso
Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun via My Game News Flash
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