Article CC BY 4.0

Sustainability assessment of food-waste-reduction measures by converting surplus food into processed food products for human consumption

Food waste is a major challenge for society as it causes economic, environmental and social problems. Many food-waste-reduction measures aim to prevent food waste at the source or by redistributing surplus food via donation. However, it would also be useful to evaluate surplus-food redistribution, where surplus food can be made available for human consumption by valorization (recycling). This paper evaluates food-waste-reduction measures, where surplus food is converted into processed food products for human consumption, which are then sold in a German retail store. The objective is to assess whether this kind of recycling of surplus food is effective in reducing food waste and how sustainable it is considering the economic, environmental and social impacts. The results of this pilot study show a total reduction of 19 kg of food waste within 17 weeks. Furthermore, all products were economically profitable, with a per product net revenue of sold upcycled products between EUR 0.42 and 0.70. The results of the environmental assessment varied from savings of 1.55 kg of CO2 equivalents/kg of product to the addition of 1.88 kg of CO2 equivalents/kg of product in product carbon footprint and the addition of between 0.42 and 0.70 mPt/kg of product in product environmental footprint. The social indicators could only be qualitatively described. The results, therefore, can only recommend this recycling option as an effective and efficient food-waste-reduction measure under optimal conditions. More research is needed to describe different recycling situations and to therefore improve the sustainability of the food supply chain.



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