16 Jun Circular economy in the food industry. Re-use and regenerate
All around the world experts and companies are looking for sustainable solutions to improve a “broken” food production system and optimize supply chain. Quite a few focus on circular economy to reduce the waste of resources and energy during food manufacturing, distribution and delivery.
The world population growth, the decrease of resources, and the environmental impact of the current model force agri-food industry to consider a change towards a more productive system. The figures evidence the extent of the challenge. Every year around 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted across the globe, which means about 650 million dollars in terms of production costs and consumption of natural resources, according to FAO.
Ellen McArthur Foundation, an organisation born to accelerate the transition towards the circular economy, defines this model as a system that preserves natural resources and reduces environmental risks by keeping materials and products at their highest utility during the whole production process, from the farm to the consumer. The first step is improving farming practises, for instance, by using organic fertiliser and making storage and packaging more efficient. Then, the manufacturing process must be optimised in order to reduce food loss and resources waste. Food Drink Europe shows how some examples of this optimisation could be redistributing non-sellable products, using by-products as animal feed and turning waste into fertiliser. But consumers also play an important role on the way towards circular economy. Their motivation and conviction in re-using and regenerating are essential to the change.
Aware of that, the EU has built its own action plan to prevent food waste. A package of measures that is expected to boost competitiveness, promote sustainable growth and create new jobs. They have created the platform on Food Losses and Food Waste involving both Member States and stakeholders from the food value chain, to improve the cooperation and value sharing.
Likewise, the US Department of Agriculture, together with the Environmental Protection Agency, is promoting several food waste reduction projects. They assured that reducing food waste by just 15% would provide enough food for more than 2.5 million Americans per year. In Africa, statistics are similar but causes are different. The food lost in Africa could feed 300 million people and the continent loses every year 4 billion in food waste, but it is due to faulty cooling, poor storage conditions, market failures or inefficient supply chain. Considering the level of malnutrition there, it becomes the most disturbing case and different solutions are on scope.
Suppliers, manufacturers, governments and consumers have become the main drivers of any circular economy based solution.
- Are you a start-up company involved in creating new solutions with focus on long-terms needs of both population and environment with the philosophy of reduce, re-use and regenerate?