Niek Kolner is a dedicated lab technician for OneThird.
We sat down with him to learn more about his background and motivations.
What’s your role at OneThird?
I’m responsible for analyzing fresh produce daily and developing new analysis techniques. I provide the data input for our data scientists to create their algorithms that predict shelf life.
What’s your career background?
I studied Biology & Medical Laboratory Research. After this, I worked in medical diagnostics as an analyst in molecular microbiology.
Why were you drawn to working at OneThird?
I’ve always been intrigued by collecting and analyzing data to make a change in the world. I had never had a role outside of human health research, but since working here I can see how we are benefiting humans and the planet.
What has surprised you most from working in this role?
Seeing how much food is wasted is shocking to me. Much of this issue is preventable, so it came as quite a surprise to me.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Having new analysis techniques I developed used to determine the end of life in produce.
Let’s say it’s 2050 and companies in the food system have all taken the right steps- what does that look like?
People value their food more. If food was more expensive then people would waste less of it. It’s important to make people realize the impact of throwing their food away.
Produce will be grown and sold locally. It doesn’t make sense to me that beef and poultry raised in The Netherlands is being exported, but also imported from Canada and Ukraine. We also receive tomatoes from Spain and strawberries from Egypt, while The Netherlands is one of the largest producers of these in the world.
Fruits and vegetables should also be grown and sold seasonally. Importing strawberries from Egypt because they are out of season in the Netherlands makes no sense to me. It is much more sustainable to just eat what’s grown locally during any season.
What’s your favorite hobby outside of work?
I’m a big fan of sports and like to stay active. I’m also a big fan of cooking.
I am more aware of reducing my food waste impact when cooking, and it has been interesting to see how I can turn my leftovers into new recipes.
What’s one thing you wish everyone would do or at least consider doing?
People should do more research on what they’re eating and eat less processed food.