Three, Sixty: With Aisling Kirwan
This is an extract from Issue 23 of SDG Alpha, my newsletter that casts an Irish lens on the world of Impact Investment, Innovation, and Sustainability. In each issue, I pose three questions on the theme of sustainability to an impact entrepreneur or innovator, to get a better understanding in sixty seconds of how they’re working to achieve the SDG targets. In this issue, I was excited to speak with Aisling Kirwan, co-founder and CEO of Positive Carbon, one of the companies participating in our sustainability scaling accelerator, Accelerate Green.
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On a personal level, what impacts of the climate crisis are you most concerned about?
The problem with the climate crisis is that everything is so interlinked. None of the impacts are happening in isolation. However, I suppose because it’s close to my heart, I’m concerned about our food systems. During the pandemic and Brexit, we already demonstrated how fragile it is. Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU commission, said last year when discussing the climate crisis: “If we don’t fix this, our children will be waging wars over water and food.” And that concept isn’t a far, distant problem, it’s happening as we speak. In 2021 we saw the world’s first climate-induced famine in Madagascar. However, there is still so much opportunity to fix the system — the less we waste and the more efficient we become, the more pressure we can relieve on this system.
Which of the UN SDGs did you start Positive Carbon to address?
SDG 12 is Responsible Consumption and Production. However, even more specially, SDG 12.3, the target is “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses’ ‘. This is our main focus, to help the industry half their food waste in the next 8 years!
How does your business model enable the transition to a low carbon, or more sustainable future?
The great thing about food waste reduction is that for a business it makes perfect financial and environmental sense. Our solution allows businesses to cut their food waste in half, reducing food bills and reaching sustainability goals. According to the EPA, the hospitality sector alone spends €300 million every year on wasted food. It’s so high, because there’s very little visibility on this waste and you can’t manage what you can’t measure! At the same time, food waste is one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis, accounting for 10% of all greenhouse gases emissions. Our Food Waste Sensor tracks and logs all food waste thrown away in a commercial kitchen allowing them to see exactly what they’re wasting, allowing them to make changes to purchasing, preparation and production to cut out waste. Allowing businesses to increase kitchen profits while also having one of the biggest impacts on their carbon footprint.