Food

  • 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...
  • 19 March 2021

    Circularity from Farm to Fork

    By Francesco Cagnola English Version Once you get to know the functioning of the food system, it is possible to realize that the global dimensions and the complexity of the relationships between the stakeholders involved in this field have become extremely difficult to understand and analyze. Furthermore, paying attention to the transition required for a more sustainable food system that is in harmony with nature, it is clear that this is an environmental as well as an economic-social problem. In order to succeed in this paradigm shift, it is important that this complexity is understood as much as possible by everyone. Although it is a fundamental aspect, the management of organic waste is only one of the necessary actions to be implemented: to reach lasting benefits over time it is necessary to deal with reduction and reuse, as well as focus on recycling processes. On the other hand, understanding the system at the micro level – individual consumers and/or individual companies, meso level – industrial poles, and macro level – city, region, nation, is difficult for everyone. The same is true when trying to understand the management of some thorny situations – or trade-offs – that must be faced during the transition to sustainable systems (for example, the debate regarding the production gap of biological techniques, which have a lower production at equal size cultivated with respect to industrial techniques). Three principles for a circular food system Below, in an attempt to clarify the complexities mentioned above, we refer to the 3 principles introduced by the Ellen McArthur Foundation, and we will follow the path that leads from the producer to the consumer. The latter is explicitly mentioned in the title of the new EU strategy (“From Farm to Fork”, that is “From Farm to Fork”), but few of the non-experts...
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