Towards a cooperation in tackling food waste

Combating food waste is a major challenge for governments. Because of New Economy’s previous experience in advising local governments on this topic, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce asked New Economy to organize an exchange of views on food waste in the Netherlands. Together with Dr2 Consultants Shanghai – a company with a focus on stimulating trade between Europe and China, we invited Dutch experts for a factfinding mission at Instock, one of the Dutch innovative companies reimagining food waste streams.

China is one of the biggest garbage producers of the world[1]. Household & company waste in China is characterized by a relatively large proportion of kitchen waste such as (cooking-)oil and residual food elements mixed with some type of packaging. Therefore, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce was sent out to the Netherlands to gather insights on how circular economy policies have stimulated innovative market solutions in the Netherlands and gather inspiration from exemplary businesses with regards to food waste reduction and management. Monday (25 november), together with Elvis Liang from company Dr2 Consultants from Shanghai, Marieke van der Werf and I received the delegation. The reception and the program were facilitated by the Dutch government.

We arranged a lunch of healthy and tasty wasted foods as well as a meeting with several experts in terms of food waste management at the restaurant Instock in Amsterdam. During the meeting we had speakers over from Instock, the Municipality of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Wageningen University Research. Some key takeaways: Roughly a third of all food is currently being wasted. If food waste was an industry in Amsterdam, it would be the second largest emitter of CO2-emissions in the city. The city of Amsterdam as a whole spends roughly €272 million euros each year on food that is never consumed. But the Netherlands is currently moving into the right direction with many new companies and initiatives that create new value by reducing waste.

In order to truly reduce food waste in Shanghai, a Dutch-Sino cooperation provides an interesting opportunity in collectively tackling this issue. Moreover, the Dutch government could work towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Shanghai government for Dutch-Sino cooperation in tackling kitchen/food waste. This could result in a long-term government-to-government advisory trajectory which can in turn provide opportunities for Dutch food waste management organizations. Currently, New Economy is asked to explore the possibilities to formalize such cooperation with Dutch food waste organizations in an instrument like Partners International Business (PIB).

Imagine the impact of food waste reduction in a city like Shanghai which is about twenty times the size of Amsterdam. Mrs Zhu Yi, Vice-Chairman and leader of the delegation said afterwards that she hoped to continue this collaboration in tackling the challenge of global food waste share and exchange knowledge, data and best practices. For that we need to move from short-term driven coping measures to actual long-term system transformation while identifying stakeholder needs, overcoming barriers while monitoring impact. Thank you Froukje Anne Karsten, Jesus Rosales Carreon and Jorrit van Kooij for your inspiring presentations and for being part of the start of something meaningful.


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