Food for a circular economy


The circular economy is high on national and international agendas. A circular economy is targeted at an optimum use and reuse of natural resources, raw materials and products.

In a circular economy resources are used in a way that adds the most value to the economy and causes the least harm to the environment. The aim of a circular economy is to use natural resources more efficiently and, where possible, avoid waste and environmental pollution.

Integrated approach needed

A transition towards a circular economy requires drastic changes in several product chains — one of which being the food chain. Various policy areas face the challenge of having to accelerate the transition towards a circular food system, such as agriculture, the environment, trade, green growth, industry and innovation. An integrated approach can result in synergy. This policy brief outlines the framework for such an integrated approach.

Three requirements for a circular food system

In order to realise the transition, the following requirements should be taken into account.

  1. In a circular economy, natural resources are effectively used and managed. Such resources include soil, water and biodiversity, but also minerals. Continued use of these resources is essential in the production of renewable materials.
  2. Optimum use of food is important. Reducing food waste is one of the main starting points in this context, as is a diet with less highly processed food, and less animal protein. Also important are a reduced use of natural resources and less environmental pressure.
  3. It is also important that residue streams, such as tomato stalks, beet pulp and stale bread, are used in the most optimal way, with as little as possible biomass being wasted.


Trudy Rood, Hanneke Muilwijk and Henk Westhoek


Publication title
Food for the circular economy
Publication date
28 March 2017
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