Among the current global problems, food loss and waste management have attracted significant attention. In particular, it has resulted in serious environmental, economic and social issues that pose a great threat to the realization of the planet’s sustainability. According to the past research work, up to a third of the total food produced worldwide is lost or wasted along the supply chain comprising of the agricultural production, industrial transformation, and consumption. To this end, development and implementation of effective food loss and waste reduction strategies are highly desirable as it will ensure the realization of global sustainable development goals.
Interestingly, food waste has been highly reported in developed countries as compared to the developing world. This has been attributed to the commitment and contribution of the farmers and food companies in assessing and reducing food losses. For instance, food loss and waste reduction have also proved to be of great benefit to the economic sustainability of a company. Unfortunately, only a few of the published research works are based on the circular economy framework. Additionally, whereas these studies focus majorly on consumer and retail food waste, food loss has not been fully explored.
To this end, Dr. Ludovica Principato (Roma Tre University), Engineer Luca Ruini (Barilla Company) and Matteo Guidi (Last Minute Market) in collaboration with Professor Luca Secondi from the University of Tuscia investigated the food loss and food waste from a circular economy point of view. Their main objective was to quantify the main food loss and waste and their causes along the food supply chain and to determine their recyclability. Their work is currently published in the journal, Resources, Conservation and Recycling.
Briefly, the research team conducted a comprehensive analysis of the lifecycle of the Italian pasta supply chain. With the data obtained from the Barilla Company, the pasta losses, waste and causes along the supply chain were analyzed. Furthermore, they demonstrated the ability to reuse the food loss waste occurring along the supply chain for other purposes such as renewable energy production through circular economy approach.
Good circular economy practices will help both the academic field and companies understand the importance of the circular economic sustainable business models as it is the key to sustainable production and consumption. Specifically, the application of a circular economic framework can effectively reduce food loss and waste occurring along the production chain. Using the pasta supply chain as a case study, very limited food losses, less than 2%, in the field was observed. On the other hand, the losses generated during the wheat grinding and pasta production was approximately 2%. The food loss and waste along the production chain could be effectively used for other purposes.
Based on the results, cultivation and consumption phases accounts for the most food loss and waste. Therefore, more efforts through further research are required to ensure a minimal reduction in food loss and waste in these phases. Additionally, the finding confirmed the suitability of the circular economy framework in quantifying, for the first time, the food loss and waste along the pasta supply chain. Therefore, the study will pave the way for analysis and reduction of the food loss and waste in the supply chain of other products which would, in turn, offer a solution to the world’s food crisis.
Principato, L., Ruini, L., Guidi, M., & Secondi, L. (2019). Adopting the circular economy approach on food loss and waste: The case of Italian pasta production. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 144, 82-89.Go To Resources, Conservation and Recycling