Why is a circular economy for food important?
Food is fundamental to our health, environment, society, and economy. But the food system today is wasteful, resource intensive, and polluting. A third of food is lost or wasted. Food waste and byproducts are landfilled, incinerated, and left to rot. Meanwhile, 800 million people don’t have enough to eat. It’s simply not sustainable.
Building a circular economy for food is important if we want to support the global population of tomorrow, expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050. It’s time to work together to build a sustainable food system where the growing, eating, and disposal of food creates robust benefits for people, the economy, and the environment.
What could circularity for the food industry look like?
In a circular economy for food:
Food is produced in ways that regenerate natureFirst, we must change what we grow and how we grow it. The industrialization of agriculture has led to over 75% of food coming from just 12 plant and five animal species. Without change, the dangers to human health, and to the planet, cannot be overstated.
Food is not lost or wastedSecond, we must reduce the vast amounts of food we currently lose at all stages from field to fork. If current levels of food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. By tackling the problem, we can make huge progress toward mitigating climate change.
Commonly wasted resources are used productivelyAnd third, less than 2% of the valuable nutrients in food byproducts and waste are currently recycled. By using these as fertilizers, to make textiles or animal feed, we can drive new innovation, establish new business sectors, and put a stop to the environmental destruction necessary for our current model.
How to transition to a circular economy for food
To successfully transition to a circular economy for food, businesses, governments, and civil society must work together. These ten calls-to-action can help us accelerate the transition, and make it as impactful as possible.