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Scope for Circular Economy Model in Urban Agri-Food Value Chains

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Sustainable Consumption and Production, Volume II


In this chapter, we discuss why in food waste and loss and energy debate community-led initiatives and alternative economies deserve to be looked at more seriously when considering support to circular economy approaches, modelling, and adaptation in the urban context. We focus on the emergence of two types of community-led initiatives in the energy and agri-food sectors. We draw parallels between their role in bringing variety to experimentation when applying circular economy principles in practice. To better understand the potential of combining alternative urban agri-food networks with community-led energy initiatives in sustainable transformation of urban production and consumption systems, it is important to recognize that the uptake of visions or strategies of circularity is affected by the availability and strength of social networks, driving forces behind their emergence and persistence, and technological solutions within and for these grassroots initiatives. We recognize three conditions to building resilient sustainable urban food networks: understanding of multiple urban flows from a coupled systems-perspective, the diversification of knowledge, and overcoming structural and cultural resistance to change. Different framings, such as in narrow terms of innovations focused on technological optimisation, can slow down recognition and reaping benefits from interdependencies of food and energy infrastructures, networks, and institutions. We argue that there is a need for better understanding of how can measures directed at minimizing food waste and loss and wider uptake of sustainable energy systems be coupled and complementary in a more circular urban economy.

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  1. 1.

    The FAO’s definitional framework, food waste is delimited by three dimensions: “food loss, food waste, and food wastage. Food loss refers to a decrease in mass (dry matter) or nutritional value (quality) of food that was originally intended for human consumption. These losses are mainly caused by inefficiencies in the food supply chains, such as poor infrastructure and logistics, lack of technology, insufficient skills, knowledge and management capacity of supply chain actors, and lack of access to markets. In addition, natural disasters play a role. Food waste refers to food appropriate for human consumption being discarded, whether or not after it is kept beyond its expiry date or left to spoil. Often this is because food has spoiled but it can be for other reasons such as oversupply due to markets, or individual consumer shopping/eating habits. Food wastage refers to any food lost by deterioration or waste. Thus, the term “wastage” encompasses both food loss and food waste” (FAO, 2014).


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Correspondence to Maryna Henrysson .

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Henrysson, M., Hendrickson, C.Y. (2021). Scope for Circular Economy Model in Urban Agri-Food Value Chains. In: Bali Swain, R., Sweet, S. (eds) Sustainable Consumption and Production, Volume II. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-55284-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-55285-5

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