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The economic case for the circular economy: from food waste to resource

This chapter examines the feasibility of processing waste material into novel high value products and uses coffee grounds from the catering industry as a case study.

Corrado Topi / Published on 2 May 2017

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Topi, C. and M. Bilinska (2017). The economic case for the circular economy: from food waste to resource. In Food Waste Reduction and Valorisation. pp 25-41. P. Morone, F. Papendiek and V. E. Tartiu (eds). Spring International Publishing .

One of the major challenges decision and policymakers face when trying to introduce sustainable food waste management strategies is to isolate high value waste material. In this paper the authors assess whether it is logistically, economically and socially feasible to isolate exhaust coffee grounds from the catering industry in one British district and use them as raw material for a novel process to produce alternative high added value products in a near-perfect circular economy cycle making use of reverse logistics and generating near-zero waste.

They chose coffee as the product to study because it is the most traded food commodity in the world, and the second most traded commodity in general, which makes the impact of the outcomes particularly significant. Due to resource and time constraints they had to limit the range of high added value products considered and to constrain the geographic area, hence focused on the production of high quality compost for the amateur and professional growers market and on the geographic catchment area of the York municipal waste collection service.

They developed a series of theoretical scenarios corresponding to the different possible logistic and process options that stakeholders could identify and also evaluated economic indicators. In conclusion they found that the process is technically feasible with available technology within current infrastructure and with modest investments. Also, the economic case is very attractive to investors. The outcomes of this research can be used as a model for similar developments in other geographical areas.

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SEI author

Corrado Topi

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI Asia

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10.1007/978-3-319-50088-1_3 Closed access
Related centres
SEI York
United Kingdom

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