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A circular economy for food: 5 case studies

How the circular economy is being applied by pioneering companies in the food sector

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Image: Agriprotein

Huge and complex

The Industrialisation of Food

Photo by Matt Benson on Unsplash

The challenges that we face

  1. The industrial food system contributes to environmental degradation: each year 7.5 million hectares of forests are cut down and 75 billion tonnes of topsoil are lost.
  2. The system is wasteful: on average 30% of all food produced does not make it to the plate, in China 500 million people could be fed by the food that is grown but discarded.
  3. The system is not resilient and does not produce healthy outcomes: the starkest indicator for this is that almost 1 billion people are hungry or undernourished; while at the same time 2.1 billion people are obese or overweight.

Natural processes and the circular economy

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

A circular economy for food

  1. Close loops of nutrients and other materials — returning nutrients to farms, regenerating soils, directing nutrient flow from wastewater, strengthening soils and reducing reliance on artificial fertilisers
  2. Cascading value from by-products — recovering valuable chemicals, medicines and energy, thus providing — alternative renewable feedstocks, stimulating the bio-economy and eliminating externalities.
  3. Diversity of production — establishing shorter supply chains between farmers and retailers/consumers, reduce the waste associated with transport, creates local jobs and strengthens resilience as well as urban-rural links.
  4. The power of digital and other enablers — digital allows you to measure, track and locate food and other organic materials with more precision allowing better management and allocation of resources; policy and education are also powerful enablers for steering and empowering.

Circular cases in the food sector

Closing nutrient loops

Saving our seas, one factory at a time

Image: Agriprotein
Image: Lufa Farms



Features and thought-leadership on the circular economy

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