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How our #food supply becomes #circular.
 How our #food supply becomes #circular.
Community Community Circular Econ.

In order to make our food supply circular, biomass and food must be optimally utilized and nutrient cycles must be closed. This is described in the Transition Agenda Biomass and Food, which was released on Monday the 15th of january 2018.

In the Kingdom broad program The Netherlands Circular in 2050, which the government launched in September 2016, five sectors have been designated. With these groups, the government wants to take major steps towards a circular economy. A transition agenda has been published for every sector on Monday, also for the Biomass and Food sector.
The Biomass and Food Agenda describes what is needed to make the food supply circular. Issues surrounding our food supply are about how the growing world population can be fed on a permanent basis, but also about healthy and safe food, healthy dietary patterns and sustainable and circular production systems. In addition, food waste and protein supply are important bottlenecks.

Hay, France, green meadow building at the backgound.

Hay bales, France, Hans van der Broek, WhatsOrb

The authors of the agenda therefore also see a major role for biomass. Biomass is a collective name for a range of agricultural crops, wood, grasses and crops that are cultivated in the water, such as algae and seaweed and residual flows that originate in the chain from harvest to consumption and final processing. Products derived from animal residual material also belong to biomass. The agenda describes biomass as a renewable raw material that captures CO2 from the air and has a wide range of applications. This makes it the raw material for food, cattle feed, materials, transport fuels and energy.

To meet these challenges, the following goals have been set:

  • Sustainable / regenerative production of sufficient biomass with a far-reaching closure of nutrient cycles, on a geographical scale that is as small as possible and as large as necessary. Such cycles already exist, for  example, on land-based livestock farms.
  • Optimal use of biomass and food. All raw materials and (half-) products remain as long and as high-quality as possible in the cycle, through full use of raw materials, high-quality use of biomass and the recycling of residual streams. This includes dealing with biomass as efficiently as possible (cascading and multiple valorization) by, among other things, combating (food) waste, preventing waste products, dosing of fertilizers and efficient incineration.
  • Reducing the use and replacing non-renewable resources with renewable raw materials (recyclate and sustainably produced biomass).
  • Develop and implement new ways of producing and consuming that lead to improvements and trend breaks in the handling of biomass and food.

Circular products

To achieve these goals, a number of substantive action lines have been drawn up. For example, the supply of sustainably produced biomass must be increased and soil and nutrients must be used in a circular and regenerative manner. In addition, optimal valorization of biomass and residual flows into circular, bio based products is important. Furthermore, the reduction of food waste and a transition to more vegetable proteins are central. Feeding and greening megacities should apply as a Dutch revenue model.

In order to facilitate these action lines, the investment climate for the bio based industry must be strengthened and emancipation of the regulations is required. Long-term carbon sequestration in soil and products must also be honored.

CO2 reduction

If the transition agenda is implemented in this way, the annual CO2 savings can amount to a reduction of approximately 10 megatons of CO2 equivalent. This figure relates to the direct emission reduction in the Netherlands. The savings that can be achieved for the whole chain, according to the authors, are more than twice as large. This is due to the fact that the circular economy affects the entire chain and the Netherlands is importer of bio based raw materials and exporter of food and products.

By: Chris Thijssen, Foto front: Adobe Stock