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This book adds a new dimension to the sustainability assessment of food waste reduction and valorisation: policy analysis. Featuring a transdisciplinary analysis by key experts in the field, it identifies the drivers of change in food-waste reduction and valorisation technologies by looking, for example, at the regulatory framework and at policy actions undertaken by local and global actors.

The book explores the development of regulations and policies for food-waste prevention, management, and valorisation at a global as well as European Union level. It also discusses the notion of food waste in legal terms and investigates the effects of the lack of a standard, universal definition of food waste on the efficient use of by-products, promising processes and products for technological and commercial exploitation.

Utilising mathematical mapping methods to assess food consumption impacts and providing supply chain models that allow the testing of consumption scenarios, the book goes on to discuss a series of emerging technologies (tested at lab scale and/ or pilot scale) and opportunities for the valorisation of food waste.



Sustainability Assessment


Chapter 1. Introduction

The importance of waste as a future feedstock for the chemical and allied industries is considered. In particular food supply chain waste is identified as a valuable source of useful chemical functions. While waste can contribute to resources globally it is likely to have an especially strong role in the industrial development of the emerging economies.

James Clark

Chapter 2. Cutting Through the Challenge of Improving the Consumer Experience of Foods by Enabling the Preparation of Sustainable Meals and the Reduction of Food Waste

The communication of sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility measurements by food industry campaigns has identified key areas of activity that dominate sustainable thinking in the food industry. The purpose of this chapter is to show that one of these areas of activity, the intensity of resource use and resulting food waste, can be used as a universal connector of sustainability practice across supply chains and between them. This requires an assessment of food waste production because it is an attribute consumers are familiar with and as such; these connectors are often overshadowed by high-level issues such as global food security, climate change and the loss of biodiversity. While these high-level issues rightly dominate the policy arena they will often take the attention away from issues that practically relate sustainability to us as consumers when we prepare, present, preserve and consume three or four meals a day. This situation presents a major challenge that is tackled here by providing sustainability and security metrics that relate to meals. The Six-Function-Model (6fm) is a model developed to assess the sustainability of food and it can be used to overcome the stifling of sustainability thinking by methods that do not enable practical application in retail, kitchen and restaurant situations. The use of the 6fm by manufacturers, retailers and consumers will stimulate the ‘designing-in’ of sustainability attributes into meals. The model and a benchmarking analysis of the 6fm are presented here to account for resource use and food waste associated with meals. The future goal of 6fm is to stimulate the use of it in the food and beverage industry so that it ‘builds-in’ sustainable thinking to product design and consumer experience.

Wayne Martindale

Chapter 3. The Economic Case for the Circular Economy: From Food Waste to Resource

One of the major challenges decision and policy makers face when trying to introduce sustainable food waste management strategies is to isolate high value waste material. In our paper we assess whether it is logistically, economically and socially feasible to isolate exhaust coffee grounds from the catering industry in one British district and use them as raw material for a novel process to produce alternative high added value products in a near-perfect circular economy cycle making use of reverse logistics and generating near-zero waste. We chose coffee as the product because it is the most traded food commodity in the world, and the second most traded commodity in general, which makes the impact of the outcomes particularly significant. Due to resource and time constraints we had to limit the range of high added value products and to constrain the geographic area, hence we focused on the production of high quality compost for the amateur and professional growers market and on the geographic catchment area of the York municipal waste collection service. To do so, we developed a series of theoretical scenarios corresponding to the different possible logistic and process options that stakeholders could identify and we evaluated the economic indicators. We conclude that the process is technically feasible with available technology within current infrastructure and modest investments and the economic case is very attractive to investors. The outcomes of our research can be used as a model for similar developments in other geographical areas.

Corrado Topi, Magdalena Bilinska

Chapter 4. Decreasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat Products Through Food Waste Reduction. A Framework for a Sustainability Assessment Approach

The global food production industry is responsible for producing high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Along the entire food supply chain (FSC), potential for mitigation exists because approximately one-third of all food globally produced is wasted, equivalent to 1.3 billion tons per year. On a global scale, emissions from livestock production are about 4600–7100 Mt CO2-eq/year when considered over the whole life cycle. These numbers represent roughly 9.4–14.5% of the total global GHG emissions. In Austria, the livestock sector was responsible for producing about 11.6% of the total GHG emissions in 2012 as a result of the production of about 909,000 t of meat. A high potential for mitigation of GHG emissions from livestock production exists, especially during the farming and production phases. A reduction in meat waste would, in the long-term, directly reduce GHG emissions stemming from livestock production. Two scenarios were considered to assess the GHG mitigation potential of waste from meat production: a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario and a reduction (RED) scenario (assuming a one-third reduction in waste from meat production in Austria). Because food waste is influenced by several phenomena along the FSC, taking an approach such as the life cycle assessment (LCA) offers only a partial solution. By using a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) approach, researchers can consider social, economic and ecological impacts. It is possible to analyze and compare food waste reduction potentials through the use of such a tool, which can support GHG mitigation efforts in terms of their social, environmental and economic contribution to the livestock and meat processing sector. This approach allowed the identification of indicators that contribute to all sustainability dimensions and support the conclusion that preventing waste from meat processing would save at least 4.8 Mt CO2-eq emissions per year in Austria, which represented 6% of Austria’s total CO2-eq emissions in 2012.

Thomas Winkler, Ralf Aschemann

Chapter 5. Fodder Legumes for Green Biorefineries: A Perspective for Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

Peak oil is forcing our society to shift from fossil to renewable resources. However, such renewable resources are also scarce, and they too must be used in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. Biorefining is a concept that represents both resource efficiency (waste reduction) and sustainability. This approach initiates a cascade use, which means food and feed production before material use, and an energy-related use at the end of the value-added chain. However, sustainability must already start in the fields, on the agricultural side, where the industrially-used biomass is produced. The highest premise of the study was to develop an agricultural production system that is more sustainable than existing ones. Fodder legumes, produced in expanded crop rotations are cultivated. They have a very positive environmental impact in agricultural production systems. They are used as bio-industrial feedstock and fodder in the Green Biorefinery approach. Following evidence that both intermediate products are suitable in the biorefining process, a cost-benefit analysis, comparing different production scenarios on a farm, showed that for large farm sizes in particular, the potential profits are high. Therefore, all three pillars of sustainability in agricultural production systems can be improved.

Franka Papendiek

Chapter 6. Municipal Waste Treatment, Technological Scale up and Commercial Exploitation: The Case of Bio-waste Lignin to Soluble Lignin-like Polymers

The present chapter addresses municipal bio-waste, as worldwide easily available concentrated source of organic matter to convert to and recycle as valuable products for further use. Municipal bio-waste contains polysaccharides and lignin as major components. On the other hand, these are major components of biomass, generally. This implies that technology used for treating municipal bio-waste is likely applicable to other bio wastes, as well. Current biomass treatment technology addresses mainly the production of biofuel by fermentation of the polysaccharide fraction. Lignin is an insoluble recalcitrant material withstanding biochemical and chemical treatment. It inhibits fermentation microorganisms. Thus, the separation of lignin from the fermentable organic fractions is necessary. In addition, the separated lignin is regarded as secondary process waste, which needs disposal. A number of technologies are currently available for this purpose. These include lignin combustion, pyrolysis, hydrocracking, or aerobic fermentation. Yet, the bio-waste lignin fraction has further potential that can be exploited by low energy consumption chemical technology. The valorisation of lignin in this fashion would contribute important economic and environmental improvements to current waste treatment practices. Taking an Italian municipal bio-waste treatment plant as empirical case study, the present chapter reviews work performed in the last decade for the valorisation of lignin originating from the organic humid fraction and gardening residues obtained from the separate source collection of municipal bio-wastes. The work covers also agriculture residues, although in a relatively very limited extent. The chapter reports processes and applications related to new speciality chemicals stemming for research developed at EU technology readiness level 5. The results prospect sustainable processes and products, and the possibility to realize a business model with reduced entrepreneurial risk for the conversion of a municipal bio-waste treatment plant to biorefinery producing fuel and bio-based chemicals. However, the chapter does not provide the reader with a strong methodology for evaluating the potential sustainability. In addition, the proposed business model with reduced entrepreneurial risk is at a very early stage. It relies mostly on assumptions that need validation. The results related to agriculture residues demonstrate that, although mainly focused on municipal bio-waste, the developed technology is applicable as well to other bio-waste types.

Enzo Montoneri

Chapter 7. Techno-Economic Study and Environmental Assessment of Food Waste Based Biorefinery

Sustainability consists of three major components, namely economic, ecological and social impacts. The most important driver for food waste based biorefinery is whether the proposed design is profitable. The development of highly efficient and cost-effective biorefineries is a prerequisite for such a bio-based economy. There are many factors that influence the overall costs and returns of the food waste based biorefinery process, and affect the overall economic performance as well. In this chapter, the economic and environmental impacts of food waste based biorefinery is evaluated by using Techno-economic Study and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in terms of non-renewable energy use (NREU) and greenhouse gases (GHG) emission. Special focus on the economics of Green Chemistry, and the current status of LCA studies on succinic acid and thermochemical processes for biomass conversion to biofuels are covered.

Aude Pommeret, Xiaofeng Yang, Tsz Him Kwan, Elias A. Christoforou, Paris A. Fokaides, Carol Sze Ki Lin

Chapter 8. Techno-Economic Evaluation of Refining of Food Supply Chain Wastes for the Production of Chemicals and Biopolymers

The development of sustainable and efficient refining of food supply chain wastes is dependent on the production of various end-products with diversifying market outlets and the identification of cost-effective processing schemes. Design and costing of proposed biorefinery concepts is essential in order to identify those processes that could be implemented on industrial scale. The successful implementation of microbial bioconversion of renewable resources for the production of chemicals and biopolymers is highly dependent on the development of cost-competitive biorefinery concepts. The recent literature on techno-economic assessment of food supply chain waste biorefining is presented. One detailed case study is presented focusing on the techno-economic evaluation of refining of orange peel wastes.

Anestis Vlysidis, Apostolis Koutinas, Ioannis Kookos

Regulation and Policy Analysis


Chapter 9. Bio-Based Economy: Policy Framework and Foresight Thinking

The bioeconomy, understood as the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy via innovative and efficient technologies, has the potential to tackle current grand challenges like natural resource scarcity, climate change, food supply and energy. Improved and systematic foresight investigations with a focus on regulations, policies and technologies are needed for better decision-making in the future and for enabling the bio-based economy to timely tackle those challenges. A common understanding of the challenges and of the capacities available is a basis for conducting foresight. This chapter, after providing an overview of the drivers and challenges of the bioeconomy and of the European policy framework governing it, explains the concept of foresight thinking and its potential contribution to the achievement of the targets of the bio-based strategy. It explains the potential role that regulatory foresight can play in establishing a sustainable circular bio-based economy and provides an overview of existing foresight studies directed to improve understanding of the future in the following dimensions:Biomass availability and trendsTechnology development and horizon scanning of emerging technologyMarket acceptance of bio-based productsRegulatory and policy-framework.

Luana Ladu, Rainer Quitzow

Chapter 10. Bringing a Sharing Economy Approach into the Food Sector: The Potential of Food Sharing for Reducing Food Waste

According to the UN estimates, world population will increase to over 8 billion by 2030. Increasing demand for food and raw materials will place additional pressure on limited natural resources. In this context, the current levels of food waste in advanced economies are no longer economically, socially and environmentally sustainable over the long term. Structural changes will be needed along the whole supply chain as well as in consumers’ attitudes and behaviours. The sharing economy is actually playing an important role in trying to achieve more sustainable patterns, also within the food sector. In particular, several initiatives and start-ups are being developed in the US and Europe, involving the collection and use of the excess of food from consumers and retailers and the promotion of collaborative consumption models. However, the correlation between food sharing practices and reduced food waste cannot be taken for granted. This chapter identified the literacy contours of this relationship, highlighting how food sharing is frequently undermined by social factors and that to make it effective specific skills are needed. Moreover, a major effort towards general routines and practices, which underpin individual-level behavior, is required to tackle food waste in a more effective manner.

Pasquale Marcello Falcone, Enrica Imbert

Chapter 11. Defining the Meaning of Food Waste as a Matter of Urgency

The lack of a uniform definition of waste worldwide applies to food waste as well. International organizations (including regional integration organization as the EU) and State governments refer to different definitions. In the International perspective, policy and definition of food waste have been traditionally developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with the explicit intent to struggle world hunger. Nonetheless, the same initial goal of combatting global food insecurity has been changing recently adding a new perspective to the traditional narrow concept, brought in by sustainability and its broad interpretation including the circular economy target, contained in the 2015 post-Global Millennium Development Goals. The challenge is offering the chance for a clear definition, distinguishing the European framework from the International context only on the basis of the specific scope of such a peculiar Regional Integration Organization. This Article aims to demonstrate that the European definition of food waste has been targeting so far, as for the legislative perspective, the specific goal of environmental impact reduction, which is just one of the numerous aims identified within the International legal framework. The National systems in the European context ask for an unambiguous definition in order to measure and estimate in a credible, practical and consistent manner the extent of loss and waste and to identify where the loss and waste occur. A precise definition will enable countries, companies and other organizations to take sustainable decisions and program their investments. Having a clear and consistent legal framework will certainly assist businesses and regulators to make decisions on a more certain basis. That is a key factor in order to achieve the ambitious target of the circular economy. In the European Union system, there is no specific definition of food waste under the Waste Framework Directive (WFD, No 2008/98/EC). The previous Directive (No 75/442/EEC) containing a definition was amended in 1991 with the addition of “categories of waste” (Annex I) and the omission of any reference to national law. A lack of legal clarity under EU law regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste could hinder the efficient use of by-products. That is why the European Parliament has recently called on the EU Commission to develop guidance on the implementation of Article 5 of the WFD which defines by-products. The distinction between waste, by products and end of waste is a key issue in the Circular Economy Package and would also help in raising awareness among food industries, retailers and consumers.

Monica Delsignore, Margherita Ramajoli, Carola Ricci

Chapter 12. Waste Reduction in Fresh Food Supply Chains: An Operations Research Approach

Sustainability has a high priority for all actors in modern supply chains, and food waste issues attract significant political, market and media consideration. Many retailers have setup programs aimed at tackling it, while the food industry has also launched programs including waste reduction among their main goals. Indeed, food waste is already a crucial theme, and its importance is growing in these years. In the last decade, retailers have achieved relevant progresses in reducing the amount of food wasted in their stores as well as along distribution networks. Nevertheless, there is still room for further improvements: better forecasting, more careful assortment and order decisions, suitable policies promoting products’ freshness, and shelf life management can yield significant waste reductions. Besides, retailers can help to reduce waste along the supply chain through closer collaboration with other upstream actors. This chapter considers methods and models devoted to waste reduction in fresh food supply chain operations to be included in a Decision Support System, and presents a case study on a real supply chain dedicated to fresh and perishable packaged products, involving a set of retailers with both small and medium sized stores located in the Apulia region (Italy). Optimization is a crucial issue in such a context and the main criticalities are related to the uncertainty on future sales. This study proposes an integrated and flexible approach that accounts for the following issues: demand forecasting, order planning and delivery optimization. The aim is to support the decision maker to determine operations plans with respect to waste reduction and other different criteria, such as shortage, freshness and residual stock of products. Results are reported and discussed enlightening both quality of forecasting and its effects on the order planning activity. The results show the potential benefits of the proposed approach to pursue the waste reduction in the distribution and the retailer supply chain and the possible extensions to contribute to the recovery of fresh food surplus.

Gabriella Dellino, Renato Mari, Carlo Meloni

Chapter 13. Participatory Planning in Organic Solid Waste Management: A Backcasting Approach

The valorisation of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) represents a relevant matter for local governments that may result in significant economic and environmental benefits. In particular, defining the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly OFMSW management strategy should be based upon the active involvement of local stakeholders in order to allow policymakers to take into account all possible environmental, social, technological, and financial OFMSW-related problems. In this framework the present chapter aims at outlining a long-term management plan for OFMSW in the case of the south-eastern Italian municipality of Foggia. To this end we have employed an adapted participatory backcasting experiment based upon a double-step procedure. By means of a focus group with experts on OFMSW management issues at the municipal level, we firstly identified the desired end point and the relative expected obstacles and opportunities. These were then discussed during a workshop organised with a group of local stakeholders, who identified and proposed all possible actions to be carried out in the short, medium, and long term to reach the identified end point. Such a participatory approach should contribute to reducing the bounded rationality and the subjectivity affecting decision-making processes as well as to broaden the knowledge base and to achieve a greater transparency in the definition of OFMSW management strategies.

Roberta Sisto, Edgardo Sica, Mariarosaria Lombardi, Maurizio Prosperi

Chapter 14. The Role of Social Networks in the Diffusion of Bio-Waste Products: The Case of Mulching Films Derived from Organic Waste in Province of Foggia

In this work we consider the biodegradable mulching film containing soluble bio-based substances (SBOs), as a new Sustainable Agricultural Practice (SAP) potentially useful in both broadening the spectrum of Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Wastes (OFMSW) management, and improving agricultural sustainability. Of course, the exploitation of such advantages depends on the actual adoption of the novelty from a critical mass of users. Among the various factors influencing this process, we stress the importance of interpersonal channels involving a face-to-face exchange. This implies the fact that people adopt an innovation when sufficient information has reached them, and shows the relevance of the role of social networks in the diffusion of innovations. Specifically, the network position of an actor affects the power and influence he can exert on its immediate neighbors as well as on the collective behavior of the members. This influence can be viewed as a strategic resource for innovation diffusion purpose in a marketing or policy context. The success as injection points, namely, the actors where the novelty is first inoculated, is typically measured as the proportion of actors who adopts the innovation at the end of the process. Following this line of reasoning, the aim of this work is to identify the network characteristics associated with effective injection points. In order to capture the network characteristics of the actors we used typical Social Network Analysis (SNA) measures. From an operative perspective, our purpose is to find the SNA measures associated with high adoption rates. However, being the innovation process new in nature, there are not available experimental data to conduct this kind of analysis. Therefore, we chose to simulate the diffusion process among agents by means of an Agent Based Model (ABM) depicting a population of farmers. The model was calibrated on real world data gathered from the case of a network of specialist vegetables producers in the Province of Foggia. Both SNA measures and rate of adoption are simulated data. The results achieved represent the basis for the breaking down of a tailored SAP diffusion strategy within an environmental and sustainability oriented development policy in a rural context, like the one studied. In particular, this study offers valuable hints on the kind of spreaders that should be enrolled, indicating, at the same time, the path for further research. This includes a more in depth analysis on various structure of networks (e.g. very dense and very sparse, very randomized and very regular, with high and low medium degree) and the investigation on the effects of the number of exposures of the agents to the promotional strategy.

Angela Barbuto, Antonio Lopolito, Myriam Anna Scaringelli, Giacomo Giannoccaro

Chapter 15. Grassroots Innovations and the Transition Towards Sustainability: Tackling the Food Waste Challenge

The need for innovative approaches to tackle food waste problem is widely recognized, given its tight links with agriculture, food security, trade, energy, deforestation, and climate change challenges. As a matter of fact, an emerging branch of literature is drawing attention to the value of food waste, reporting both technological aspects of food waste valorisation (by means of case studies and/or pilot-scale laboratory experiences), and how such innovative pathways may contribute to the transition towards sustainable production and consumption systems and a more sustainable waste regime. However, little research efforts have been invested so far in relation to the development and diffusion of innovative approaches addressing the food waste problem and the role of grassroots innovations. Thus, our chapter aims at contributing to this strand of literature, by addressing two main issues:how do grassroots movements act and how effective are they in catalysing innovation in the food waste field?what are the specific roles that grassroots innovations may play in the transition towards sustainable production and consumption systems and a more sustainable waste regime?Our investigation draws on the analysis of several case studies of grassroots innovations from European countries, and builds on the multi-level perspective (MLP) approach.The specific findings of our study could support decision makers in developing tailored strategies to minimize the amount of food wasted along the supply chain and to unlock the enormous potential of food waste that is being landfilled, and also to instil some further investigations related to this strand of food waste literature.

Valentina Elena Tartiu, Piergiuseppe Morone
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