What is Breadline?

Hong Kong’s first public digital platform for food rescue

Hong Kong — a rich city, with a poor food system

Hong Kong imports over 95% of the food we eat, throws away 3200 tonnes of it a day, while 20% of the population live in poverty.

Cities consume over 75% of the world’s natural resources and produce the equivalent in carbon emissions. If everyone lived like an urbanite in Hong Kong, we would need 4.2 earths. 🌏🌎🌍🌏

Throwing away food makes no sense. It’s a waste of the water, energy, soil and labour that went into its making. It also takes up space in an already saturated landfill. Instead of using it to feed people, it causes Ghg emissions and leachates that pollute the soil, water and air.

Globally 17% of all food produced is wasted. Reducing food waste is 800 times cheaper, and 7 times more energy efficient than recycling (ReFed), which makes food rescue one of the true keystones of sustainable development in the face of rapid urbanization and climate change.


Food Rescue

Food rescue is the redistribution of surplus food. At the end of the day, instead of throwing away the leftovers, edible unsold food is collected and donated to communities in need.

Cities like Hong Kong hold great potential as dense urban foodscapes provide many possibilities — but food rescue is a logistical nightmare. Take bread as an example, there are hundreds of bakeries across the city, but only a limited window for pickup; with a sell out rate of 20–50%, food rescue can sometimes feel like a wild goose chase.

Some organisations respond by adopting a blanket approach, assigning volunteers to all locations while others leave volunteers to their own demise — blindly scrolling through a long list of addresses.

The results are unsurprisingly poor — with a volunteer return rate of less than 1%, perfectly edible loaves are slipping through the cracks and ending up in landfill.


Key to Success — Breadline features

This is where Breadline comes in. We designed Hong Kong’s first public digital platform for food rescue, connecting volunteers to bakeries to collect surpluses just-in-time for those who need it.


The key to our success is giving control over to volunteers. Our web application is designed to decentralise operations by enabling volunteers to take charge of their runs while ensuring that they have all the information they need.

🗺️ Everything at a glance

Breadline offers a map-based view with time-based filters so that users can immediately see what fits their own schedule and mobility.

🏃🏽‍♀️ Giving control to volunteer

Volunteers choose when and where they want to run — even at last minutes notice. Our interface allows volunteers to claim available runs independently — ahead of time, or last minute, with no cut-off time.

🍞 Real-time updates

We enable volunteers to maximise their runs with real-time volume updates from bakeries an hour before closing and avoid empty runs.

📲 Transparency

Breadline records the amount of bread collected and shares it with volunteers and donors, allowing us to track impact.



Results — more than just food

By designing operation flows that serve our users, we saved more than just food.

We improved volunteer efficiency by 109.2%, with a hit rate of 98% for shops reporting 20 or more pieces of leftovers. Our volunteer return rate is 30%, with the top runner having collected over 10,000 loaves.

This is how we saved 300,000 loaves of bread from landfill.

Despite the pandemic, we were able to continue operating once a week, delivering bread to community partners to serve those experiencing homelessness, low income and refugee families, elderly and the intellectually disabled communities.

We prevented 366 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 79 passenger vehicles driven for 1 year, and saved 1.6 million gallons of water, equivalent to 2 olympic sized swimming pools.

HK's first public digital food rescue platform