Major firms join new Ellen MacArthur Foundation circular food initiative

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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has announced that it is working with a group of participant cities, and major firms including Danone, Nestlé, and Veolia to develop circular economy solutions for the food system. 

In three flagship cities, London, New York and São Paulo, the Foundation will lead major food system projects to demonstrate how a circular economy vision for food can be reached at scale.  

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This three-year project is supported by Philanthropic Partner Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. 

Food production is responsible for almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and mismanaged fertilisation and manure exacerbate air pollution, contaminate soil and leach into water supplies, said the Foundation. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation food initiative lead Clementine Schouteden said: “By joining forces in this way, cities, and the businesses and people in them, can transform the global food system. We can grow food in ways that support ecosystems instead of damaging them. Food would be sourced locally, when it makes sense, and we would make the most of it, avoiding edible waste and using organic by-products to improve soil health. This is a unique opportunity to create a system which helps to tackle the climate crisis, restore biodiversity, improve human health, and reconnect people with their food, while creating new business opportunities.” 

Benefits of this approach include: 

  • Reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by 4.3 billion tonnes of CO2 annually 
  • Avoiding the degradation of 15 million hectares of arable land each year 
  • Reductions on antimicrobial resistance, air pollution, water contamination and foodborne diseases.  

Cities can unlock an opportunity of USD 700 billion (£552 billion) by reducing edible food waste and by cycling by-products and organic materials, said the Foundation.  

London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) chief executive Wayne Hubbard said: “Being awarded Flagship City status is recognition of everything the Mayor, local councils and LWARB are already doing here to improve food outcomes for all Londoners. By working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to develop this circular economy approach, we will be able to do even more to engage and inspire businesses, consumers and other stakeholders across London to tackle the food challenges we all face.” 

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