Building circular food systems that are regenerative, fair and resilient

Circle Economy’s Food Systems Programme works to build circular food systems that are regenerative, fair and resilient. Using an impartial, data-driven approach, we work with partners across the public and private sectors to identify key circular interventions for food systems transformation and evaluate their socio-economic and environmental impacts, while building local capacity for implementation.

Up to 10% of global greenhouse gases come from food that is produced but not eaten. The circular economy offers a solution to reduce food waste and pollution while easing the pressure of linear agricultural methods on natural resources. Circular food systems favour production processes that align with ecosystems' natural regeneration.

WHAT ARE CIRCULAR FOOD SYSTEMS?

WHAT ARE CIRCULAR FOOD SYSTEMS?

KEY BENEFITS OF CIRCULAR FOOD SYSTEMS

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CLIMATE ACTION
Circular food systems can tackle the embedded carbon in food waste, protect carbon sinks and create new sources of sustainable energy (e.g. from waste heat, anaerobic digestion or organic waste).
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RESILIENCE
Circular food systems can reduce reliance on scarce resources, support resource-efficient infrastructure and diversify the sources of key resource flows such as energy and water.
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BIODIVERSITY
Circular food systems reduce waste production and pollution as well as pressure on natural resources, they favour production processes that are congruent with the natural regeneration rates of ecosystems (e.g. regenerative agriculture).
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INNOVATION
Circular food systems can create opportunities for local innovations and business opportunities and increase local employment opportunities through shorter supply chains.
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FOOD SECURITY
Circular food systems can improve food security by increasing food productivity, improving access to food and boosting urban resilience.
circle food scans
Vision- and roadmap development
circle food scans
Our tried and tested research and innovation method—the ‘Circle Scan’—takes businesses, cities and nations on a transformative journey to identify, prioritise and implement circular and regenerative systems, based on the (potential) impacts of specific best practices on key areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, resource use and jobs in the process.
We have applied the Circle Scan method to:
  1. National and urban food systems in European and North American countries and regions such as Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Quebec, as well as in cities such as London, Toronto, Glasgow and Amsterdam.
  2. Labour markets in countries such as Scotland that are pursuing a circular bioeconomy.
  3. Dairy, retail and plastic packaging industries and multinationals looking to become more circular.
These projects have looked at a range of circular and regenerative food systems solutions, such as regenerative and urban agriculture practices, composting, food loss and waste reduction strategies, plastic packaging reduction strategies or ways to shift to more plant-based diets.
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Circularity Gap Reports
Circularity Gap Reports
At the global level, our Circularity Gap Reports provide a more holistic picture of the role of different countries in driving the twin agendas of circularity and climate action—with key insights for food systems that can help inform national action.
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Jobs and skills in circular food systems
Jobs and skills in circular food systems
The Circular Jobs Initiative (CJI) within CE is a knowledge centre focused on ensuring stakeholders in businesses, cities and nations have access to knowledge of how circular strategies could impact people and the labour market and know how they can take action.
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Capacity-building
Capacity-building
We have extensive experience building the capacity of stakeholders in all sectors to turn circular economy principles into a practical reality. We do this through interactive and tailored learning programmes that combine theory and practice, from workshops and training programmes to online courses and communities of practice.
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Knowledge Hub
Knowledge Hub
Circle Economy Foundation is host to the largest online library of circular economy case studies—an open and collaborative effort with partner organisations and volunteers around the world.This includes a large collection ofcase studies on circular and regenerative best practices for urban food systems, developed in partnership with ICLEI.
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Projects and publications

Circular opportunities for the Irish agrifood sector

Circular opportunities for the Irish agrifood sector

Circle Economy Foundation is currently working with EIT Climate KIC on their deep demonstration programme for the Irish agrifood sector, which aims to develop a portfolio of innovations to transform the sector over the next couple of years. As part of an early phase of the programme, we have contributed a report (to be published soon) on circular (bio)economy opportunities that will shape the next steps of the programme.
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A circular London food system

In collaboration with ReLondon, Circle Economy Foundation mapped food and emission flows through the Greater London area's entire food and beverage supply chain, in order to enable the identification of emissions hotspots and uncover suitable circular interventions that can cut the city's consumption-based emissions. Key interventions modelled include reducing per capita meat consumption, reducing food losses and waste and the circular management of organic and food waste, which, under an ambitious scenario, hold the potential to reduce the consumption-based emissions of Greater London’s food system by an estimated 31%.
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A circular London food system
Climate change mitigation through circular food strategies

Climate change mitigation through circular food strategies

Commissioned by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), which advises the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Circle Economy Foundation and Shifting Paradigms researched how the circular economy can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in low- and middle-income countries. This report uncovers the range of socio-economic and environmental co-benefits that circular mitigation interventions—including six chapters around food and agriculture—can bring to GEF countries of operation.
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latest thinking

A Dutch circular agrifood system does not stop at the border either - Part 2
A Dutch circular agrifood system does not stop at the border either - Part 2
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A Dutch circular agrifood system does not stop at the border either - Part 1
A Dutch circular agrifood system does not stop at the border either - Part 1
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Cities going circular: how London can cut its emissions from food consumption by 31%
Cities going circular: how London can cut its emissions from food consumption by 31%
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A third of the world’s emissions come from food—the circular economy can change this
A third of the world’s emissions come from food—the circular economy can change this
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MEET THE TEAM

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hatty
cooper
Director  (Goverments and Institutions)
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Matthew
fraser
Head of Research and Development
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Yasmina
Lembachar
Research Analyst

CONTACT us

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