• Paola De Bernardi spoke about the paradox and limits of the agri-food system, then suggested possible operational solutions.
  • 20 January 2023


    During the last Re-think held in Milan, the founder of the Recup association, a very interesting example of awareness and sustainability within the agrifood sector, spoke. As president of Recup, Alberto Piccardo explained that the association’s motto is “Food that loses economic value, gains social value” and that, this, has been an integral part of its project from the beginning, when in 2015 Recup debuted in the Viale Papiniano Market in Milan. The market featured mountains of boxes completely abandoned in the middle of the street, with a bad smell, and lots of people dumpster diving. What Recup did, was to analyze these two problems and look for a solution: since 2015 to date Recup has been trying to intervene in as many markets as possible, especially in Milan, where there are about 90 district markets every week, for an average waste of 200-300 kg in each of them, thousands of tons every week in one city alone. The intervention, Piccardo continued, was aimed at recovering from the merchants all the surplus food, collecting it with a cart, a cargo bike, and taking it to the Recup stall; it is a free parallel stall, where they do not sell a product but try to make social inclusion. So, the two main pillars of Recup were initially combating food waste and combating social exclusion; then using food waste as a tool to approach all the people who have economic problems and try to connect with them, thus creating an intergenerational and international project. Recup, specifies Alberto Piccardo, is not intended to be a charitable action like those of large entities in Italy-Banco Alimentare, Caritas, Pane Quotidiano-but aims to raise people’s awareness by letting them experience food waste firsthand. Piccardo continued his speech by going on to explain the evolution of Recup,...
  • 4 November 2022

    Reuse wine waste

    During the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Milan held in February 2022, we had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Silvia Buzzi, HSE and Sustainability Manager at Caviro Extra, who told us about a wonderful circular reality Silvia Buzzi takes us into the world of wine: Caviro is an all-Romagna group that has as its input to enhance the entire wine supply chain. It is also a beautiful tangible example of regenerative capitalism. Caviro is a second-degree cooperative, encompassing 29 members including 27 social wineries. It was founded in 1966 and has recovery in its DNA, because physiologically in the agricultural world it is essential not to throw anything away. The mission is to valorize members’ grapes, not only to valorize the grapes by paying them at an average price above the market price but to valorize all the by-products of winemaking because grapes hold so many surprises. There are 12,000 winemaking members scattered in seven regions of Italy, from northern Italy to southern Italy, because this makes it possible to guarantee a great variety of wines, thus satisfying the most demanding palates. Caviro’s wines range from the daily wine we know, Tavernello, and Castellino, to super-premium category wines such as Amarone Della Valpolicella. These members cultivate more than 36,000 hectares of vineyard area in Italy, this means that where there is a cooperative there is no land abandonment and this is fundamental; therefore, without land abandonment, because the remuneration is certain, we can be sure that land use change does not happen and the biodiversity that our territory needs is guaranteed. Silvia Buzzi explained that Caviro’s supply chain processes about 10 percent of Italian grapes, about 700 thousand tons per year, and makes wine from them clearly, exceeding 220 million liters of wine poured on the market,...
  • 23 September 2022

    Circular fish market

    In a few days the next Re-think Circular Economy Forum event will be held in Taranto, where one of the main topics will be Agri-food. To get fully into this topic, we repropose an interesting Case study that was the subject of the speech by Gianmarco Deleidi, Sector Manager – Esselunga Fish Purchasing Sales Management, during the Re-think event held in Milan in February this year. Gianmarco Deleidi began his speech by emphasizing how the word “Re-think” is truly representative of the soul of Esselunga, a company at the forefront in terms of innovation and attentive to the theme of circularity for many years already, driven also by the endorsement of the Ownership on these issues. The expression “Re-think” means at the same time reinventing, and rethinking models, and that is why the company wanted to integrate and correct, and in some cases even improve, all its processes at the supply chain level. All of Esselunga’s departments have been involved in the innovation process, but Gianmarco Deleidi’s talk focused on the Biandrate Processing Center where the company, a food company as well as a retailer, prepares all of the fish you see on the counters of its supermarkets. The center is in the province of Novara, was created in 2007 and is a unique plant in terms of area and volume with 31 thousand square meters; an average of 25 thousand tons of product are processed here, resulting in waste production. Inside the new plant of about 12 thousand square meters are highly automated lines that allow intercepting all processing waste and, even, it is possible to set and modify products directly during the processing stages. Inside the fish processing center, there is also a 2,500-square-meter sushi plant and 1,000 square meters dedicated to the production of ready-to-cook (the “food...
  • 28 October 2021


    Last October we had as speaker at our event, Re-think Circular Economy Forum 2020 in Milan, Antonino Biundo, CEO at REWOW srl. Antonino explained to us what REWOW is and how they aim to rewind used cooking oil into bio-based materials.  In order to understand their activity, it is necessary to comprehend what is the meaning for Used Cooking Oil. That’s the reason why Antonino Biundo started his speech describing Used Cooking Oil (UCO), which derives from vegetable oils used for food cooking, processing, and storage. As he highlights UCO are also highly polluting for the environment: only 1 litre of UCO may pollute up to 1 million litres of water. In Europe, 4 million tons of UCO is generated per year, but only 5% is collected. Zooming on Italy, we have 64% of UCO which comes from households and only 20% is collected, which is mostly used to produce biofuels with a low value on the market.   What do they do at Rewow?  They create a second life for used cooking oils and, at the same time, they want to raise awareness in order to triple the collection of this waste. To achieve this, in July 2020, they filed the patent on the Chemo-Enzymatic Process to produce innovative Aliphatic Polyesters and thus increment the added value of UCO. Indeed, the market of bioplastics is constantly growing, and it is expected to reach 28 billion dollars by 2026. Generally, the other producers of bioplastics produce their products with either synthetic or biological processes. However, biological processes are more expensive, especially for the significant downstream processing costs for their technology. The Rewow materials, instead, are produced synthetically from waste, but they have similar characteristics to the biologically produced ones, especially for the hydrolysis and flexibility. Moreover, Rewow, together with other few companies, is planning and making awareness raising campaigns....
  • 26 October 2021

    Earthshot London Prize

    Nowadays, there are many possibilities to get awarded, recognised and supported for sustainable ideas, projects and businesses.   One of the most recently created global environmental prizes is the ‘Earthshot London Prize’, founded and currently run by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge until the initiative becomes its own entity by the end of this year.  The Prize, whose first edition was held in 2021, was designed to incentivise and support change and to adjust our planet over the next 10 years. In order to do so, they decided to focus on five of the so-called ‘Earthshots’ – global goals – which aim at transforming our system in a more sustainable and equal one for now and tomorrow.   For each of these Earthshot challenge, institutions, cities, companies, startups, organizations can propose a protection-oriented solution and who will propose the best one receive a global platform and prestigious profile with their stories to be illustrated over the ten years to anyone interested in order to have mass adoption, replication and scaling of them.   Moreover, each winner will get £1 million in prize money to support environmental and conservation projects agreed with them.  The Earthshots challenges are the following:  Protect & Restore Nature: species all over the world are facing extinction or have been threatened by men because of improper ways of production, consumption and disposal; Build a waste-free world: the actual economic system is characterised by a logic of easily throwing away what we own and use, without properly considering whether they can be reused, repurposed or recycled; Clean our air: a lot of people breathe toxic air on a daily basis and this provokes numerous deaths that could actually be prevented by introducing 100% renewable energy for everyone, removing pollution caused by human activities and much more; Revive our oceans: life underwater is extremely at risk...
  • 28 September 2021

    The hidden resources

    In occasion of our event Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Milano last October we had the pleasure to have as guest Karin Beukel, Co-Founder at Circular Food Technology, who explained us how 10% of estimated 2027 global food shortage can be covered by ONE waste stream.   Karin began by acknowledging the consequences of a linear food ecosystem, which is the result of a food system focused on the economy of scale and scope. Worldwide consequences like food loss, hunger, malnutrition and over consumption. Food Loss: 1/3 of all food produced is never consumed.   –Hunger: 820 million people suffer from hunger; 2 billion people are food insecure and 785 million people lack access to safe and clean water.   –Malnutrition: 13% of the adult population is obese. In 2017 obesity was the underlying cause for 8% of deaths.   –Over consumption: we are currently consuming at a rate where we would need more than 1,7 of the planet every year, and 22% of global CO2 emissions comes from the food sector.   As a way to tackle these challenges, Circular Food Technology is following the path of up-cycled food. Ingredients that otherwise would have not gone to human consumption are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment.   They believe this is the new market trend because recent market data shows:   -A growth of 20% in sustainable fast-moving consumer good sales (Nielsen, 2019)   –Up-cycled food market is 47 billion USD in the US market (Future Market Insights) 57% of customers aim to buy up-cycled food in the coming years (Mattson, 2019)   -Consumers are ready to pay more for up-cycled products than conventional products (Drexel Uni).   Circular Food Technology focuses on Brewer’s spent grains (BSG) which are leftovers in the beer production. BSG are demolded and mashed grains used to brew. Every year more than 40 million tons of spent grains are...
  • 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...
  • 28 July 2021

    Coffefrom: from nature, the future

    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...
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