Food waste in cities: An urban metabolism approach to inform and assess policy. Presented at : Transforming socio-economic metabolism in times of multiple crises - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Poster Year : 2022

Food waste in cities: An urban metabolism approach to inform and assess policy. Presented at : Transforming socio-economic metabolism in times of multiple crises

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Abstract

For a decade, increasing efforts have been put on the development of methods and data to quantify food waste at the level of nations, economic sectors or companies (Hanson et al., 2016). Although its reduction is a priority on the political agenda of cities, as of those united within the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (2015), the generation of food waste at city level has been largely neglected in research. How much food gets wasted in a city is largely unknown (Goldstein et al., 2017). Due to reported high levels of food waste in the sectors close to consumption (Stenmarck et al., 2016), we assume that cities as the geographical location where population is concentrated are particularly confronted with the problem. To reduce food waste, many cities increasingly develop policies which add to a multi-level policy framework addressing the same aim. The aim of this communication is to provide answers to a twofold question: First, which method, concept and data are required to characterize and quantify food waste at the level of a city and determine its origin and destination? Second, which are the policy instruments and target groups that characterize French food waste reduction policies, at various levels? Drawing on the EUROSTAT material flow accounting method (Eurostat, 2018), we conceptualized food waste, developed a quantification method and compiled various data sets so far unused in metabolism studies. As for the policy part, we analysed 23 policy documents pertaining to the case study, Paris metropolitan area, chosen for this research. Overall, the findings show that for the year 2014, food waste represents 19% of the population’s food supply, excluding drink. Moreover, less than 10% of the food waste was collected separately from other waste and recycled. The consumption stage alone accounts for a significant share of food waste from both in-home and out-of-home consumption. Part of this food waste could be avoided, as it initially was food that could have been saved and used for human consumption, had it been handled differently. The policy analysis shows that current food waste reduction policies focus on three pillars: awareness-raising and communication to consumers at individual level; food donation in business; food waste collection and organic treatment as bio-waste. These policies consider neither the systemic characteristics of the urban food metabolism, nor the interconnectedness between food and waste, nor yet the multiple determinants of food waste origin. Though better data e.g. in the business sector are needed to improve the quantification of food waste, cities can already use the quantitative findings and review the policies they are in charge of to strengthen targeted intervention policy to cut down food waste and monitor progress over time.
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Dates and versions

hal-03819370 , version 1 (18-10-2022)

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  • HAL Id : hal-03819370 , version 1

Cite

Barbara Redlingshofer. Food waste in cities: An urban metabolism approach to inform and assess policy. Presented at : Transforming socio-economic metabolism in times of multiple crises. 14. Conference of the Socio-Economic Section of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, Sep 2022, Vienne, Austria. , 2022. ⟨hal-03819370⟩
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