Food Waste and Loss: The Benefits from Circular Economy

As the world’s population grows, it is anticipated that waste production and food consumption will both rise. Food waste and loss have both negative environmental and economic impact by contributing to the worlds greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss.[1]

Approximately 14 percent of the food we produce each year is lost during production and distribution, while a further 17 percent ends up being wasted by retailers and consumers. ©FAO/Miguel Schincariol

A linear economic model is a “take, make, use, dispose” system, where products are made, used, and then discarded as trash. As a result, the value of resources and goods is expected to decline, prices will fluctuate because of resource shortages, and the supply of raw materials will be unstable because of overconsumption. In continuity there is a creation of greenhouse gas emissions which contributes to environmental degradation and climate change.[2]

However in a circular economy model, actions at every stage of the food value chain intend to restore the status of the entire system by eliminating the idea of waste. Thus, this economy model creates additional economic opportunities and products which can be used throughout systems and society. Ellen Macarthur Foundation explains the circular food economy in below diagram. Also, Sustainable Development Goal-12 focuses in the reduction of the food waste and loss at the production, consumption and retail level.[3]

Ellen Macarthur Foundation: FOOD AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY [4]

Benefits of circular food economy[5] :

At the production level:

Food loss at the farm level is largely a result of difficulties with crop storage, rigid contracts with purchasers, and agricultural byproducts. Farmers and producers can aid in the shift to a circular food economy by optimizing their operations, using regenerative techniques, reducing waste streams, and finding new applications for products that are typically discarded.

The benefits of the circular bio-based economy for farmers in terms of both the economy and the environment are also highlighted by the European Farm to Fork Strategy. The Strategy explains that farmers may boost revenue and generate jobs by embracing opportunities to use biofertilizers, protein feed, waste streams, and renewable energy.[6]

At the consumption level:

According to the UNEP Food Waste Index, retail businesses and food services waste 5% and 2%, respectively, of the total amount of food available at the consuming stage of the supply chain.[7]

An UN course on food waste prevention explains how to measure and report for food waste at different points in the food chain and how to take effective preventative actions.[8]

EIT Orbisk is also working to cut down on food waste in the restaurant businesses. Orbisk integrates smart cameras, weighing scales, and waste bins using AI technology to track food waste down to the ingredient level. This is intended to help restaurants reduce waste and increase profit margins by helping them make more educated decisions about when and how much food to buy.[9]

Disclaimer: This project is funded with the support of the European Commission. The information and views set out in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission. Neither the European Union institutions not any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use, which may be made of the information contained therein.

Provided by GrantXpert

[1]Tamasiga, P.; Miri, T.; Onyeaka, H.; Hart, A. Food Waste and Circular Economy: Challenges and Opportunities. Sustainability 2022, 14, 9896. 10.3390/su14169896

[2]European Commission: “Circular Economy: closing the loop An EU action plan for the Circular Economy”

[3]United Nations: “12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”,


“Transitioning to a circular food economy: the solution for food waste and food

[6] European Commission: “Farm to Fork Strategy”,

[7] United Nations Environment Program: “UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021”,

[8] United Nations: “Food Waste Prevention!”,

[9] EIT: “Orbisk”,

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them. 2021-1-CY01-KA220-HED-000032155

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