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New collaboration with Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Ellen MacArthur Foundation: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. It strives to design a regenerative economy without waste and pollution characterised by reusing all products and materials.

The Ellen MacArthur foundation’s Food initiative showcases the potential power that food holds to reach climate targets and address the depletion of finite resources.

Together with the Foundation we have started a project in São Paulo to set an inspiring example of a regenerative, local, and circular food systems.

Through three actions in cities worldwide: 1) sourcing food grown regeneratively, and locally where appropriate; 2) making the most of food (eliminating waste); and 3) designing and marketing healthier food products, these actions could generate annual benefits worth USD 2.7 trillion by 2050.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation Food Initiative.

Read on to learn about how we partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to tackle climate change, create healthy cities, rebuild biodiversity, and create new business opportunities.

Bridging business, governments, and research for change

When scanning the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s website, a major conclusion is inevitable: Effective change has to involve all stakeholders. In this case, we are talking about the transformation of an immensely complex system – our economy. And as such it requires even more collaboration to successfully change. 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, therefore, decided to focus on a number of key areas across the business sector, governments and authorities as well as education and research. These are interlinked and ultimately serve the purpose of accelerating the transition towards a circular economy – a systems thinking approach.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision of a circular economy connecting biological with technical cycles (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation).

Formal education, as well as informal learning opportunities, are both utilised for that purpose, for instance, through cooperating with universities and setting up online learning events. Business actors are engaged, for example through corporate capacity-building and instigating innovation. Ultimately, the foundation strives to act as a catalyser for a circular private sector.

Restaurants, supermarkets and farmers: Closing the loop

The food system is one in which the production of waste is particularly devastating. Therefore, the Ellen MacArthur foundation has setup the food initiative, as explained in this video.

Indeed, not only are 11% of the world’s population undernourished making the disposal of edible food an absolute no-go. Wasting food also causes immense emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHSs) – particularly methane – and embodies the useless disposal of valuable energy, nutrients, and resources. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that preventing food waste could eliminate 11% of the food system’s emissions – which is significant.

The metropolis of São Paulo faces a number of challenges regarding water including regular flooding, droughts and pollution. Agroforestry systems serve as natural filters improving water quality and stabilise water flows and availability.

Cities – where most food is consumed – are key in making food system transformation possible. In São Paulo, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to tackle food waste with an innovative approach: Linking restaurants and supermarkets and their excess food and biomass to local farms.

In cooperation with reNature, the Foundation will set up a project part of which will consist of composting their organic waste. Once composted, it will then be transferred “back” to local farms surrounding the city to be circled back into the soil. In return, the farms’ produce will be delivered to the participating restaurants and supermarkets fostering local food consumption.

Diversified, local production to revive suburban farming

reNature’s role will be focused on the transformation of those farms into regenerative systems well suited to the application of compost. Farmers will be supported in setting up diversified, resource-efficient systems enhancing soil quality and increasing farm profitability. The idea: Produce coming from these farms will either be eaten or circled back into their own soil reducing the need for chemical soil enhancers.

Three ambitions of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Food Initiative Strategy in 20+ cities including São Paulo, London and NYC (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation).

Located around the outskirts of the metropolis (12 mio inhabitants), the farms currently form a green belt around the city preventing its expansion through the development of slums. Turning them into regenerative systems with healthy soils will enhance water infiltration and, therefore, its influx into the city.

Further, new economic incentives will prevent farms from bankruptcy. The green belt – valuable also as a recreational area for city dwellers – will be revalued and secured in its existence. Ultimately, farmers benefit as well as the city’s inhabitants whilst restaurants and supermarkets will have access to diverse, locally-grown food to enrich their menus and shelves.

With this project, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and reNature intend to set up an inspiring showcase of how the future of circular, urban landscapes can look like. It is to set an example and, perhaps, imply a head start for transformation of urban food systems into regenerative, circular, and localised arrangements.


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