What is Circular Agrifood?
Circular Agrifood is a process of producing food, where there is a closed-loop system that optimises the use of resources and reduces waste. It involves reusing or recycling materials throughout the food production cycle. The approach focuses on sustainable agriculture, waste reduction, and circular economy principles in the production and consumption of food.
Worldwide one third of food produced every year (1.3 billion tonnes) is lost or wasted. Food waste has a global carbon footprint of about 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.
Waste occurs along the entire supply chain from farms to processing and manufacturing to shops, restaurants and at home. The first step is nearly always reduction, the smaller the waste streams the better. Next, new technologies, markets and collaborations can help farmers, producers, and retailers find innovative ways to repurpose their waste streams.
Increasingly, small scale operations seeking to repurpose waste streams have been cropping up. This offers encouragement that circular agrifood business models are gaining traction. However, the scale is still quite small, and many barriers exist. In particular, the high implementation costs are too much for individual stakeholders to bare alone. Although awareness for waste stream upcycling is growing, it remains uncharted territory resulting in general uncertainty and lack of commitment on the way forward. Also, conservative markets with traditional supply chains are unwilling to alter established, highly profitable methods based on cheap, though often unsustainable, raw resources. Foodvalley NL is currently exploring ways to accelerate the uptake of waste streams in food production.