New challenge encourages kids to reduce food waste with tech

Ocado and Little Inventors have launched the challenge with the mission of fighting household waste with creative inventions from children

The Ocado Food Waste Challenge with Little Inventors is calling on all budding Edisons and Einsteins to cook up an invention idea that could help to reduce food waste in the home. Little Inventors is founded on the belief that children’s ideas are invaluable, and their uninhibited imagination can lead to some amazing and powerful inventions. All ideas to help avoid throwing food away are welcome without limits, whether wonderfully wacky or perfectly practical. The challenge hopes to encourage children to use their STEM skills to think of future technologies that will help combat the food waste issue.

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Corporate Affairs at Ocado, explains: “This project is very close to our hearts. Food belongs in bellies, not bins, and tackling food waste is an important part of our goal to become the UK’s most environmentally friendly supermarket.”

“We’re really excited to get children and families thinking creatively about the issue [of food waste]. If we uncover something amazing, we’ll be looking to turn it into a fully functioning product and list it on for our customers. Watch this space!”

With 7.3 million tonnes of food and drink being binned every year in the UK, the retailer is hoping to uncover the next big idea to help customers to carry on the low wastage mission at home. Ocado has already managed to reduce their own food waste figures by creating bespoke software which calculates how to pack items to reduce product damage and decrease food waste.

According to leading waste charity WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme), some of the most common reasons for throwing food away include not storing it correctly or using it in time, preparing and cooking more than we need, and lack of planning. With the help of Little Inventors and its new Food Waste Challenge, online grocery retailer Ocado is eager to help the nation overcome these obstacles and rescue edible food from ending up in the bin.

To help the nation’s budding brains get inspired, Chief Inventor at Little Inventors, Dominic Wilcox, is hosting interactive workshops at selected schools across the country, where he will share some of his very own food waste inventions to get young imaginations and creativity flowing. Teachers far and wide are also being encouraged to host their own sessions with their classes using the handy Ocado Food Waste Challenge resource pack easily available to download at

Children have amazing imaginations and their ideas should be taken seriously – they’re the biggest group of naturally creative people and I know some excellent ideas will be revealed. – Dominic Wilcox, Chief Inventor, Little Inventors

To judge the Ocado Food Waste Challenge entries, a panel made up of some of the best minds in food and technology are coming together, including Dominic Wilcox, Chief Inventor at Little Inventors; Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Ocado; Helen White, Special Adviser at WRAP. 

Helen White, Special Adviser on Household Food Waste at WRAP, sheds some light on the household food waste issue: “In the UK, more than half of food waste occurs in the home, and a family of four could easily save an average of £700 every year simply by using up all the food they buy. I’m thrilled to join Ocado as a judge for the Food Waste Challenge and am very excited to see all the entries!”

The winner will get to see their invention drawing turned into a real piece of tech by the Little Inventors ‘Magnificent Makers’ and exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the North this summer. They will also win a trip to Newcastle to see the showcase with their family, as well as £250 of Ocado vouchers.

Commenting on the challenge, Dominic Wilcox, Chief Inventor at Little Inventors, adds: “Children have amazing imaginations and their ideas should be taken seriously – they’re the biggest group of naturally creative people and I know some excellent ideas will be revealed.”

“I often get my inspiration from the everyday stuff around us, and with the Ocado Food Waste Challenge we want to encourage kids to think differently about the everyday food they throw away and why. My workshops will not only be playful and fun, but educational too – I’m really looking forward to seeing what fantastical ideas the children come up with!”

How to get involved: To enter the Ocado Food Waste Challenge, simply visit, download the resource pack and upload a drawing of your inventions that could help tackle food waste at home. All entries will be showcased on the online gallery for inspiration. The competition is now open and will close for entries on Monday 7 May 2018. So sharpen those pencils and get inventing!

Free live webinar & QA

Blended learning – Did we forget about the students?

Free Education Webinar with Class

Wednesday, June 15, 11AM London BST

Join our expert panel as we look at what blended learning means in 2022 and how universities can meet the needs of ever more diverse student expectations.