Close Log in with or
Register here
Forgot password

Register with or
* Required fields
your profile is 33% complete:
Update profile Close
#Food waste: symptom of a malfunctioning system.
Community Community Circular Econ.

Companies in the lead for a transition to a circular food system '

The business case for circularity in the food sector has been proven. Nevertheless, relatively few companies are investing in it. That is what organizations want to change. They cannot do this alone, because cooperation is the key to success.

In 2015, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment (Netherlands) had to report how much food waste had been reduced. The goal: a reduction of 20 percent. The conclusion: nothing happened. "That was the moment that the 'Waste Factory' started.

‘Three-Sixty’, an innovation center for circular economy was also involved. We realized that there was no place where people could go for information about food waste reduction.
6 percent of CO2 emissions are generated by the production of food that is not eaten.

‘Three Sixty’, is place with information to prevent and reduce food waste and to value waste flows. Our conclusion was that a consortium would have to come from large parties who all speak out against food waste. This idea grew into ‘Three-Sixty’ and the ‘Taskforce’ Circular Economy in Food. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has been working on the theme for fifteen years.

Taskforce Circular Economy in Food

The Taskforce is an initiative of WUR and has been realized in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Alliance for Sustainable Food. Members from the entire food chain, from SMEs to multinationals, are members.

Agriculture has always been circular.

Focusing on the themes climate-friendly agriculture and reduction of food waste. Producing more food on more land will not work, instead we have to extract value from food waste. Food waste is smart business. That is why companies have to move. 

Bringing companies from the entire food chain together is our priority. The ambitions of companies and the government are great, but now action is the most important thing: there is so much potential, so we really have to do it now.

Food waste: symptom of a malfunctioning system

One of the problems of food waste is that the problem is 'no ones'. There is waste at almost every company in the food sector. It is so natural that it is included in our economic models. At the same time, the subject has been taboo for a long time, it was not talked about. "

Food waste in North America

In the meantime, food waste has risen to 50 percent in North America, says Hutten. In the Netherlands the counter is between 30 and 33 percent. This means that about a third of our food ends up wasted. For example, vegetables that do not meet the beauty requirements: they are of good quality, but look crazy.
Bent cucumber on a brown wooden underground

This food waste also has an impact on the environment: "Six percent of CO2 emissions are generated by the production of food that is not eaten." At the same time, 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.

"Food waste is the symptom of a poorly functioning food system", which means that reducing food waste is interwoven with a system change. Food waste as part of a transition to a circular food system.

The mixed company as a circular example

Circularity is not new in agriculture. "Agriculture has always been circular. We used everything on the farm.

After the Second World War, the focus was on scaling up to eradicate hunger. The farmers have succeeded so well that we now have a surplus and the Netherlands is the second exporter in the world. In that process, circularity has been slain. The mixed farm can now serve as an example for the design of a circular chain.
"What you want is to build a closed system". Why do you want that? Because it is maximally sustainable: you use everything you want to use. This means reducing food wastage and building a circular food system in practice close together.

The business case

Combating food waste leads to a profit. Every euro that is invested yields 14 euros. Yet companies often do not respond to this, because knowledge is lacking, complete processes have to be changed or the advantage occurs at a different location in the chain.

If food waste is tackled, it often happens fragmentarily on different fronts, while the knowledge gained is not shared. That is why a joint approach such as the Taskforce offers a solution. Companies can learn from each other and stimulate each other.

Sector ambassadors

Each participant has drawn up one or two concrete goals that he will pick up. In addition, every new member must be prepared to become an ambassador for his sector. "The best example is Lamb Weston / Meijer, that company has all companies in the sector," says Timmermans. The common goal is to have halved food waste by 2030.

Sub-goers Taskforce

Four sub goals have been drawn up.

  • The first of these is to measure how the Taskforce stands for.
  • The second is to innovate in the chain, whereby companies that do not yet do so are helped by the front runners.
  • The third is changing consumer behavior through campaigns.
  • And the fourth goal is to change the rules of the game, so that food waste is no longer the norm. Legislation can play a role here.

Ultimately, the emphasis is on the role of companies: "Companies must take the lead. If they do not move, it will not work. "The companies that have joined the Taskforce dare to take on that role:" They are all leaders in tackling food wastage and wanting to involve other companies. "

Companies have to take the lead.

The hope and wish is that even more companies want to shape circularity in the food sector and join the Taskforce: for companies that want to make circularity concrete, this is the right way!

International example function

In the field of food waste, the Netherlands is not necessarily doing better than other countries at the moment, but we are the first country with a serious task force. Despite the fact that we do not communicate so much about it yet, you see that more and more parties look to the Netherlands as an example. There is good hope that the Taskforce will take care of change in the food sector: now we have to solve food waste. 

By: Rianne Lachmeijer. Cover photo by: citypassguide