Taiwan Students Develop Colour-Changing Discount Labels To Fight Food Waste

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A group of students from the National Taipei University of Technology have developed a new labelling system that could help slash food waste from supermarkets. Their idea, called Barcodiscount, involves automatically colour-changing stickers that indicate the percentage discounted off the product as it gets closer to the expiration date. Recently winning the national runners-up prize at this year’s James Dyson Awards, the students hope that their concept will soon become a reality to help make it easier for grocers to sell their products, preventing it from ending up in the landfill. 

Supermarkets often relabel their fresh produce and other groceries as it gets closer to the expiration date, but this process is often time-consuming for staff and prone to human errors, meaning some items may never be relabelled and given the chance to be sold at a lower price before they are ultimately thrown away. Now, three Taipei-based students have come up with a better solution with their concept Barcodiscount

Buying discounted goods [reduces] waste by an average of 33%, while revenues increased by an average of 6.3%.


Barcodiscount are colour-changing stickers, which displays different colours and discounts based on how close the product is to its expiration date. For instance, when a package is 48 hours until expiring, the label will display 20% off, and then automatically changes to 40% when it reaches 24 hours. 

The students created the concept after improving existing technology that triggers a colour change after a set time period has elapsed. While the original technology activates the colour-changing timer when the label is printed, the students developed a way for the timer to start when it is labelled at the supermarket, making it even easier for grocers to use Barcodiscount, streamlining their logistical management while reducing food wastage by encouraging consumers to purchase perishable goods. 

“Buying discounted goods [reduces] waste by an average of 33%, while revenues increased by an average of 6.3%,” explained the student team Yen-yu Chang, Hsin-an Huang and Ching-i Chen in their project proposal. 

Currently, Asia is responsible for generating over 50% of the world’s food waste – and this figure is set to rise as the continent becomes richer, more urbanised and populated. Globally, food waste is estimated to contribute as much as 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Solutions like Barcodiscount represent vital tools to help the region reduce its environmental footprint. 

We will continue to pay attention to the colour-changing technology development, hoping that our idea Barcodiscount can be realised.


Amid the pressing need for more solutions to combat food waste and loss, students across Asia have been innovating a range of ideas. Developed by a group of university students in Singapore, Makan Rescue, is a mobile platform that alerts Singapore residents to free leftover food nearby that would otherwise be discarded. Users are also allowed to notify other people of nearby food at risk of being tossed out.

Looking ahead, the team behind Barcodiscount hopes to be able to roll out their technology across Taiwan. “At present, colour-changing technology in Taiwan is mature, but there are not many designs applied to [real-]life scenarios [in groceries],” said the students. “We will continue to pay attention to the colour-changing technology development, hoping that our idea Barcodiscount can be realised.”

Lead image courtesy of Barcodiscount.

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