Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

When sustainability becomes a driver of innovation: the case of Last Minute Sotto Casa

When sustainability becomes a driver of innovation: the case of Last Minute Sotto Casa
29.06.2015 | Mattia Martini

Six hundred and fifty billion euro…this is the astonishing that every year is wasted in the form of food. More than a billion tons of food, almost 150 kilos per person, of perishable foods that are thrown away when, however, may still be good. Even if in recent years there has been an increasing effort to recycle food to which industries, supermarkets, shops will have to undo, donating them to associations, communities and those people who are most in need, this seems not enough to reduce the food waste. On the other hand, a little collaboration within all the interested parties could be enough to solve the problem…in particular, when the solution is downstairs... This is the intuition of Francesco Ardito and Massimo Ivul who lunched their start-up in 2013 and that, starting from the Politecnic of Torino, has rapidly reached many cities in Italy. 

The name of the company is “Last Minute Sotto Casa” (“LMSC”) (Last Minute Downstairs”) whose aim is to bring a positive contribution not just to the food buyers and sellers, but also to the overall sustainability of the planet. The underling intuition of LMSC founders is quite simple: every night some thousands of food sellers need to waste foods that they will not be able to sell the day after. This is the case of bakeries, pastry shops, butchers, fish shops, street markets and small neighborhood market. What better way to do this by offering those products at a discounted price, and then making a profit instead of losing it by throwing these goods? 

The functioning of the services is very simple. Sellers and buyers have to register on the web site by filling out a form. They are asked to sign their position to allow the shoppers to be geo-localized and to the constumers to receive offers concerning the stores which are closer to their home or workplace. By applying the shopkeepers who have surplus or expiration products can inform customers of tender opportunities and purchases them at discounted prices. In real time the bids will be sent to the customers who have chosen those particular categories of products when registered. 

As the founders use to say, with LMSC everyone win: the shopkeeper wins, not wasting and also gaining something; customer wins, buying fresh food and saving money; and also the planet wins, because acting in a conscious and rational allow to respect and preserve the natural resources that the Earth offers every day but that are not infinite. 

This can be considered an  example of how sustainability becomes a driver of innovation and innovative business models. The attention now is on the economic sustainability of the initiative, and the question is: will LMSC become a business of success in the medium-long term, or rather it will be another interesting project bornt from the digital economy, which will be soon sunken by the market? In this sense, the published data seems to be quite encouraging. Started on an experimental basis in March 2014 and initially applied only in a neighborhood of Turin (to retrieve the bread not sold during the day), today LMSC is slowly reaching many cities in Italy (and soon also in Europe), relying already on a network of over 200 shops and about 15 thousand registered users. Then, a mobile application is also coming which will  make the access to the promotions  even faster and immediate.  

Then, who knows if in the future, coming back home in the evening and giving the usual quick look at the smartphone, we do not discovered that just a few steps from us there is a promotion that will allow us to arrange dinner at half price...

Relevant themes: Environment, Resource efficiency, Sustainable innovation
Relevant tags: Social innovation, Sustainability, Eco-innovation, Sustainable lifestyles, Circular economy


  • Mattia Martini - Universita’ degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca (Interuniversity Research Centre for Public Services, University of Milano – Bicocca), (UNIMIB)

    Mattia Martini

    Mattia Martini is Post-doc fellow in Management and Organization at the University of Milano-Bicocca. His main research interests relate to labour organization and human resource management, with particular reference to social and personal services, and a focus on human capital development.