What is the Point of Rescuing Food From the Bin?

Raphael Fellmer started rescuing food from the bin nearly 10 years ago. In 2017 he turned his passion into a business. The environmental activist founded SirPlus, a Berlin-based start-up that sells surplus food – online and in-store. With increasing success.

Vegetables at SirPlus

Carrots are rejected because they are crooked. Muesli doesn’t make it onto the shop shelves because it is due to expire in a few weeks. Yogurt, jam and tinned food are indiscriminately thrown out because they have passed their best-before dates. For Raphael Fellmer this is absurd because the food is generally still edible. Fellmer (35) first became aware of the topic of food waste in 2009. It was a film that galvanised him into action. He decided to turn his back on consumerism, and travelled around the world without money, before living in Berlin without money for 5 years. During this time he helped found the German Foodsharing initiative.

From Niche Phenomenon to Mainstream

With the help of volunteers, the organisation has collected more than 13,000 tonnes of food since 2012 and distributed it to its 200,000 members and people in need. However, with 18 million tonnes of food being thrown away in Germany each year, this is just a drop in the ocean. So how can we rescue more surplus food? Raphael Fellmer soon found the answer: "We have to make it mainstream, bring the issue into the centre of society. That’s the only way to break down prejudices and increase demand," says Fellmer. "And our service needs to become more professional. At the end of the day, lots of people don’t have time to get involved in collecting and distributing food themselves."

Raphael Fellmer

My dream is that one day everyone will have enough to eat. So we can’t afford to throw away surplus food any more.

Raphael Fellmer

That’s why Raphael Fellmer and his partners Martin Schott and Alexander Piutti founded SirPlus. As CEO, the former anti-consumerism activist is now promoting sustainable consumption. The small business may not be making a profit yet, but, thanks to reliable partners like METRO Cash & Carry Berlin, over 150 other retailers and producers, numerous voluntary interns and other helpers, SirPlus has survived its first 6 months in good shape. Up to 600 customers pour into the little shop in Berlin each day to buy surplus fruit and vegetables, packaged snacks and, more recently, chilled food at a fraction of the normal price. The nationwide online sales service has also got off to a good start. Fellmer hopes to expand this service over the coming months. And he is already looking for locations for more shops in Berlin and other cities. The aim is to open 35 shops across Europe in the next 5 years. In the future, Raphael Fellmer also hopes to win over chefs to the cause and wants to position SirPlus generally as an advisor on the issue of rescuing food. Why is Fellmer promoting his company with such dedication? "My dream is that one day everyone will have enough to eat. So we can’t afford to throw away surplus food any more."

Read also the interview in our Condensed Annual Report 2016/17:
"Who is responsible for ensuring that good food doesn't end up in the bin?"

Learn more about SirPlus on www.sirplus.de

What happens to food that is not bought and consumed? Do they just end up in the trash? Lars Jope, Head of National Policy at METRO AG's capital office, visits the METRO wholesale store in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

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