Food

  • 3 September 2021

    Pulp Pantry

    English Food waste is still one of the biggest world problems, indeed according to FAO around 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets lost or wasted every year. As Kaitlin Mogentale, founder of Pulp Pantry told us, generally, food waste creates a huge burden on the world, environmentally and socially, as resources are extracted to produce food that will never be eaten. In fact, it is estimated that if food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the US. Who is Kaitlin Mogentale and what is Pulp Pantry? Kaitlin Mogentale earned a degree in Environmental Studies, with an emphasis on Social Entrepreneurship, and Urban Policy & Planning at the University of Southern California, is a self-proclaimed food waste warrior and the founder of Pulp Pantry, which she started in 2015. Pulp Pantry transforms upcycled ingredients —the overlooked, nutritional byproducts of fruit and vegetable processing —into wholesome, better for people and better for the planet, snack staples. “Waste Less, Thrive More”, is the company motto, because a thriving humanity depends on a thriving, healthy planet. Kaitlin had her business idea while looking at a friend who wanted to waste his carrot pulp. She could not stand it and decided to make cookies from the saved carrot pulp instead. She started her business when she became closely acquainted with the unsettling disparities in the American food system. In a country where obesity and preventative diseases are sweeping the nation, the paradox is that the foods people could benefit from most are the very foods going to waste at the greatest rates: fruits and vegetables.  The mission of Pulp Pantry is indeed to transform upcycled ingredients – the overlooked, nutritional byproducts of fruit and vegetable processing – into products with the ingredients, nutrition, and...
  • English Version Have you ever thought that spent coffee grounds could not be a waste, but a great resource?  Let’s start with some numbers. Italy imports annually around 606 thousand tonnes of coffee (this is 17% of the EU’s coffee imports), and on average an Italian consumes 6 kg of coffee annually. As we can see, Italy is a significant coffee consumer, which means that Italy produces a significant quantity of spent coffee grounds. Spent coffee grounds have a lot of qualities: in particular, they are rich in nitrogen, an element with a high potential for energy production, saturated fatty acids, and cellulose. They can be used in several industries as they can be used to produce cosmetics, compost, pellets, biofuels, etc.  While some industries do recognize the potential of spent coffee grounds, there are some innovative startups that truly went above and beyond. Coffeefrom uses this resource in a circular way, with a zero-waste approach.  Coffeefrom is an Italian company that was born in 2019, it is based in Milan and it brought an innovative, extremely versatile, and sustainable material of biological origin material on the market. This material is made using spent coffee grounds of industrial origin, in a truly sustainable and circular fashion. Coffeefrom is the second circular economy spin-off launched by a local cooperative, Il Giardinone Cooperativa Sociale. The first experience dates back to Expo 2015, when the team of Il Giardinone experimented with the recovery and transformation of coffee grounds from Lavazza bars, using them to cultivate fresh mushrooms. In 2016, FungoBox was launched: the kit allows for self-production of fresh mushrooms from urban coffee waste.  Over time, the know-how of Il Giardinone in the recovery and transformation of coffee by-products strengthened and a new entrepreneurial vision was born: this is how Coffeefrom first came...
  • 29 June 2021

    Circular Economy for Food

    Franco Fassio dell’Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo (UNISG) è stato nostro ospite in occasione di Hacking the City lo scorso aprile. Il suo intervento, riassunto in questo articolo, si è concentrato sulla necessità di partire dal cibo per cambiare il nostro attuale paradigma economico. Una tale evolluzione in chiave circolare permetterebbe di riportare l’attenzione sulla biodiversità, sulle comunità, sulla qualità delle relazioni e sulla sostanza dei comportamenti. Infatti, per comprendere i problemi che caratterizzano il food system, abbiamo bisogno di adottare un approccio sistemico, di analisi e progettazione. Il “thinking in systems” ci può aiutare a vedere le interconnessioni e capire le esigenze di tutte le parti coinvolte nel sistema. Già l’antropologo britannico Gregory Bateson  in Verso un ecologia della mente aveva sostenuto: “I maggiori problemi del mondo sono il risultato della differenza tra come la natura funziona (sistema) e il modo in cui le persone pensano (lineare)”. Secondo il Professor Fassio, dunque, il primo terreno da arare se vogliamo sostenere e promuovere l’Economia Circolare è la consapevolezza che siamo un unico sistema interconnesso e che un’economia sostenibile può essere solo un’economia della conoscenza. Istruzione, formazione e ricerca sono necessari per ripensare le ipotesi della società contemporanea  e mettere in discussione abitudini consolidate che a volte sono il vero ostacolo ad uno sviluppo sostenibile. La filiera agroalimentare estesa (comparto agricolo, industria alimentare, distribuzione e Horeca) è il primo settore economico del nostro Paese, con un fatturato di oltre 500 miliardi di euro e quasi 4 milioni di occupati. L’importanza di questo settore è tale che la pandemia di Covid-19 ha colpito il settore agroalimentare in maniera relativamente ridotta, con una contrazione del 4% in termini di valore aggiunto su base annua. L’importanza di questa industria è quindi tale da permettere di immaginare una ripartenza dinamica e sostenibile che sfrutti al meglio...
  • By Simina Scripat English Version The crisis caused by COVID-19 and the effects of climate change made the transition to an economic system in which production and consumption are more sustainable increasingly urgent. This implies a total paradigm shift from the status quo. In this new perspective, the needs of the present must be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To achieve such development, in 2015 the Member Countries of the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. These goals are based on the three pillars: environmental, social, and economic. Given the close interconnection of these levels, a transformation of the economic system can also bring environmental and social benefits. Generally speaking, studies have shown how the circular model can benefit the achievement of all SDGs. For example, it has a direct effect on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6). In fact, several parts of the world currently experience severe water shortages at least once a year. The use of circular practices, such as the development of small-scale water purification technologies or wastewater treatment to reduce the discharge of wastewater into drinking water sources, may offer a solution to this water access issue. Circular economy (CE) can also directly benefit the achievement of SDG 7 – ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Energy is one of the most polluting sectors, and as a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows, the transition to renewable energy can address 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By introducing CE in five sectors (key cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food), it would be possible to reduce these emissions by 9.3 billion tons, thus curbing the other...
  • By Benedetta Esposito English Version The agri-food sector has been severely affected by many problems, such as resource scarcity, food loss and waste generation along the worldwide supply chain which, in 2019, counted approximately 1.3 billion tons, generating a cost of more than 1000 billion dollars per year (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2019). The decline in biodiversity and the improper management of resources and processes represent only some of the causes of such problems. Accordingly, a need has emerged to radically redesign the traditional linear economic path of production and consumption. In this scenario, Circular Economy emerges as a possible strategy that is able to overcome these critical issues, especially in the state of emergency generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the need to adopt models and tools of Circular Economy in the agri-food sector is imperative to overcome these problems. Under this lens, the company’s performance should be guided towards consumption reduction, optimization of resource management, reduction of environmental impacts, waste reduction, and the reuse of leftovers. Moreover, the literature has shown that stakeholders’ engagement plays a pivotal role in catalyzing the shift towards the adoption of circular economy models, which is required at the supply-chain level rather than the individual company level. Indeed, one of the main barriers to circular economy implementation is the lack of information about the stakeholders involved in the supply chain. In addition to primary producers, numerous categories of subjects should be involved, such as customers and consumers, investors, public decision-makers, the process and transformation industry and distribution. Insightful information about companies’ practices can support sustainable business systems in the agri-food sector. Consistent with this statement, researchers have demonstrated that incorporating social and environmental considerations into the decision-making process and customers ‘reuse activities’ yields significant economic benefits. Therefore, sustainability commitments and the actions of...
  • Versione Italiana Antonio Vaccari, Head of Health, Safety and Environment di Esselunga, è stato nostro ospite durante il nostro evento Re-think Circular Economy Forum. Esselunga è una consolidata azienda alimentare italiana, che opera come rivenditore e produttore. I concetti di sostenibilità ed economia circolare sono intrinseci nel modello di business di Esselunga. Infatti, l’azienda ha collaborato con Tondo anche in occasione del nostro hackathon Hacking the City, chiedendo a giovani studenti e neolaureati di sviluppare nuovi modi per rendere le nostre città più circolari. La strategia di sostenibilità di Esselunga si basa su 5 pilastri: clienti, dipendenti, fornitori, ambiente e comunità. Gli obiettivi principali di tale strategia sono la minimizzazione delle emissioni di Co2, l’imballaggio sostenibile e la riduzione dei rifiuti. Uno degli esempi più importanti di questo impegno è il fatto che negli ultimi 20 anni, Esselunga ha eliminato gli imballaggi secondari utilizzando 2 milioni di casse riutilizzabili e lavabili nei propri circuiti interni. Ripensare l’imballaggio In occasione dell’evento Re-think, Antonio Vaccari ha spiegato al pubblico quale è il delicato equilibrio tra packaging sostenibile e qualità del cibo e come Esselunga lo gestisce nelle scelte quotidiane. La strategia di packaging sostenibile dell’azienda mira soprattutto a ridurre, riciclare e sostituire la plastica mista ad altri materiali e a diminuire l’uso di imballaggi eccessivi. Allo stesso tempo, Esselunga vuole garantire la qualità dei suoi prodotti dal punto di vista della sicurezza alimentare, assicurando un’adeguata durata di conservazione dei suoi prodotti e riducendo così i potenziali sprechi. Entro il 2025, l’azienda vuole garantire che il 100% degli imballaggi dei prodotti Esselunga siano realizzati con materiali compostabili, riciclabili o riciclati. Esselunga persegue questo obiettivo coinvolgendo i suoi fornitori e i suoi consumatori, utilizzando un approccio scientifico, supportato anche dal metodo Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Esselunga valuta ogni giorno l’impatto delle sue scelte di...
  • English Version Italian version below A few months ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Ivan Calimani, founder of Krill Design, at our Re-think Circular Economy Forum, the event that we created as a meeting opportunity for those working in the Circular Economy sector. Krill Design is a startup, founded in October 2018, that puts design and technology at the service of the Circular Economy. In his speech, Ivan Calimani, first explained how the need to launch this startup was born from an understanding of just how critical it is that we redesign the way we think about waste. Every year in the world, hundreds of millions of tons of organic material are generated as waste and 98% of these materials end up in landfills to be incinerated or rot in open bins. European companies generate 88 million tons of waste per year, or 20% of all European food production, resulting in an economic loss of 143 billion euros per year. It is estimated that wasted food generates around 3.3 million tons of CO2 per year, representing about 8% of global emissions. This is why the food and beverage industry is looking for effective and sustainable solutions to recycle and reuse waste. In fact, food waste can be used today to realize raw materials for high-value products and help build a circular bioeconomy. Of course, new solutions often require a long phase of experimentation and don’t always prove beneficial to companies, but Krill Design has developed a Circular Economy model that starts and finishes within the same company, using the waste it produces to easily make a finished product. How does it work? How is it possible? Homogeneous food waste, such as peels, seeds, and shells, is transformed into a 100% biodegradable biopolymer. Through a 3D printer, it is then...
  • 27 April 2021

    Circular beer: Crumbs

    English Version Brave Brew is a Swedish company founded by three friends, Matt, Niclas and Julian, who were shocked to find out that 80,000 tons of bread are wasted every year in Sweden. They then asked themselves this question: what can you do with more than 200 tons of leftover bread per day? They came up with possibly one of the best answers: beer! This is how Crumbs was born: made from bread waste, Crumbs is a locally sourced, locally produced, delicious beer brewed using leftover bread which would otherwise be thrown away. Their motto is simple: “Less Waste, More Taste”. Brave Brew is not a brewery per se, but they work to collect bread that would otherwise be wasted and then they trust local experts to work their magic and turn this bread into delicious beer. Brave Brew has been running since March 2020. They started selling beer in June 2020 and have produced about 45,000 bottles of two different qualities of beer. The first one, Loafy Lager, has been produced in collaboration with Värmdö Brewery, a craft brewery from Stockholm. To produce this first beer, 30% of the grain count has been replaced with rescued bread. The result is a tasty, light lager with citrus notes and of course light bread. Brave Brew is now working with a new brewery with the goal to produce a third beer. The final objective for 2021 is to be able to systemise the bread collection to be able to scale production in other cities. Brave Brew is also working on the idea of producing a new beer using spent grain, which is a leftover of the brewing process. An ambitious goal Brave Brew also seeks to raise awareness on the issue of bread waste and to create an alternative circular and scalable...
  • By Giovanni Colombo, Senior Public Affairs Manager at EIT Food – from ReThink 2020 English Version EIT Food is one of the eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities created by the EU under the umbrella of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and is building an ecosystem to generate innovative solutions to make the food system more circular and bring these solutions to the market.  The “Circular Food Systems” is one of the six Focus Areas. EIT Food, as Europe’s leading food initiative, is working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy, and trusted.  It works in synergy with Europe’s leading agri-food companies, research institutes, universities, and startups to transform the food system and tackle some of the big societal challenges such as food waste. In the EU, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually, which represents 20% of food production and it is estimated that this could feed 200 million people. The production and disposal of this food waste generate 170 million tonnes of CO2 which accounts for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions of the European Union. The global cost is 870 billion euros. Today, the reduction of food waste is an opportunity because it could help to close the gap between the food needed to feed the planet in 2050 and the food that was available in 2010 by more than 20%. This has been recognized also by the UN SDGs target n° 12.3 which asks us to halve the food waste by 2030. In the European context, food waste covers food loss and food waste and it occurs at all stages of the value chain. Even though in Europe food waste occurs mostly at the consumption level, synergic efforts should be addressing the problem of food waste at all stages of the value chain. Colombo...
  • By Luca Bertolasi English Version Lac2Lab is a start-up currently under the constitution, whose project started in 2019. The team is made up of 4 co-founders, with different backgrounds: Paride Acierno and Luca Bertolasi for the economic-business area, Lorenzo Ippolito, and Arianna Palladini for the R&D and production area. Cell cultures are a laboratory technique that aims to reproduce biological phenomena through the growth of certain cell lines within laboratory slides, in a controlled artificial environment. The growth and proliferation of cells are guaranteed through nutrition, given by the FBS (Fetal Bovine Serum), which has various problems concerning the ethical, economic, and qualitative sphere. First, FBS is produced by killing bovine fetuses, and about 2 million of them are killed each year. Furthermore, the FBS has a considerable cost, and the cheaper variants are produced in South America, where herd control isn’t comparable to Italian standards. An ethical and sustainable product The purpose of Lac2Lab is therefore to place on the market a substitute product for FBS, totally ethical towards animals, obtained by reusing a material that would otherwise be wasted: cow’s milk. Indeed, approximately 116 million tons of milk and dairy products are wasted every year around the world. An in-depth analysis of the dairy market was conducted, in particular by examining the relationships between producer, distributor, and the final consumer. This analysis highlighted how to milk waste is an intrinsic problem in the supply chain. The Lac2Lab product is born from the requalification of expired or expiring cow’s milk, no longer destined for food consumption, to be used in Life Science technologies. This guarantees production based on a circular and sustainable economy. The whey, suitably transformed through original processes and replacing the FBS within the cell cultures, also reduces the distances between the additive manufacturer and users: the...
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