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Actionplan circular food loss and biomass(residual)flows 2021-2025

  • Published on January 27, 2022

In the transformation to a circular economy, biomass and food (waste and residual) flows have much to offer. However, despite the fact that Flanders is one of the international leaders in the sustainable management of food loss and biomass residues, the potential of biomass residues and food (waste and residual) flows is still insufficiently exploited in the region. Moreover, many challenges still exist to close the biotic loop, in legal and policy terms as well in terms of operational, economic and environmental aspects. 

Food loss and biomass (waste) flows occur in all phases of the food and biomass chain and interlink with various societal areas. Managing these flows falls within the competence of different policy areas, and many sectors and stakeholders are involved. For this reason, Flanders needs a comprehensive plan that provides solutions and outlines actions that will ensure a well-coordinated policy.

This action plan is structured around three material cycles.

  1. Cycle 1: food (waste and residual) flows from producer to consumer, i.e. the food loss and waste flows from producer (primary sector), producer organisations (hereafter called horticultural cooperatives), food industry, distribution, catering and consumers
  2. Cycle 2: biomass (residual) flows that occur in the nature, forest and landscape management
  3. Cycle 3: wood (residual) flows from industry and households

Closing loops is a central principle in the waste and sustainable materials management policy. Fewer materials are used and they are utilised more efficiently, their value is retained as long as possible and leakage flows are avoided. The emphasis in the sustainable materials management policy is on the separate collection of biowaste from households and businesses. Waste flows that are nevertheless released must be put to the best possible use. The three pillars that are central to this action plan follow the materials hierarchy and the cascading principle. They form the basis for managing each cycle.

  1. Pillar 1: More prevention, less loss
  2. Pillar 2: Better sorting and collection
  3. Pillar 3: Higher value valorisation

A strong interaction exists between this action plan and other Flemish policy plans. Biomass and food is one of the five important themes within the Transition to the Circular Economy and the "Vision - in 2050 Flanders will be Circular". Furthermore, the Government of Flanders has set itself the goal of developing an integrated Flemish food policy. This action plan contributes to this policy by focusing on the prevention of food loss throughout the chain and evolving towards a (more) circular food system. Finally, the actions in the plan support the objectives and ambitions of the Flemish Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030.

The action plan also connects with the European policy framework in several ways. It endorses the 2018 European Bioeconomy Strategy. The EU Green Deal also includes several initiatives relevant to this action plan. In addition, this action plan's action programmes contribute to the United Nations sustainable development goals, focusing on SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production.  

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