Industrial Ecology for Optimal Food Waste Management in a Region




Integrated management model, food waste, Industrial Ecology, prevention, Industrial Symbiosis, dematerialization


Despite numerous discussions between scholars and policymakers, food waste (FW) remains a great concern. European Union alone discards 88 million tons of edible food annually, and when energy, inputs from technosphere and nature, labour, waste management of edible as well as inedible parts are assessed, it amounts to significant environmental and economic impacts. Additionally, food waste is considered a social problem and a matter of food security. Since food waste is a problem of the whole foodstuff supply chain, a holistic approach for its management must be taken. For this reason, an industrial ecology (IE) concept can provide a systemic approach that might be an interesting solution for tackling issues associated with such a biogenic food waste stream. The application of IE brings novelty to the research, because the IE approach is typically used for heavy industry that is concentrated in close proximity. The idea behind the IE approach is to prevent as much food waste as possible, then exploit homogenous sub-products for value added product (either food product or not), and, eventually, to obtain energy (or value added products) via fermentation and produce organic fertilizers of a great agronomical value. The results of investigation showed that numerous prevention and technological solutions can be applied to reduce environmental impact, and when available practises are coupled with IE elements, it brings the management approach close to natural ones. The key IE elements in the model are dematerialization and industrial symbiosis; however, other elements, such as restructuration of energy systems and policy alignment, are also present. As a result of the model application, an economically sound, zero food waste management could be obtained in a region