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Circular Economy

What is it and why does it matter?

Reducing the loss of resources and designing out waste in the agri-food system through the reuse, recycling and recovery of materials and energy. Also, the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value adding products, such as animal feed and bio-energy. 

Circular Economy is a key focus for agenda setters, with customers and consumers not thinking about it but those in the policy space seeing it as a key tool to solve issues around sustainability. It touches multiple other areas from waste, to packaging to energy. There is also a potential ‘flip’ with circular economy thinking, offering not only a reduction in negative impacts but a commercial opportunity through cost reduction or new value creation.

63%

Of meat buyers say it’s important suppliers are “contributing to the circular (or bio) economy”

Signal

From Reduction to Profitable Innovation 

Innovation that creates wins for the environment and business : Air Co … Carbon negative vodka, based on technology that transforms carbon dioxide into alcohols

Insights from 

Agenda Setters

Seen as significant opportunity for Ireland by thought leaders but also cited by sustainability leads as part of a broader waste strategy / approach – which includes food waste, energy & water. ​

​Plastic & packaging, which are much more important for consumers and customers, were noted as core to the circular economy discussion – especially amongst beverage manufacturers (who speak to the importance of deposit return schemes).

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Customers

For buyers this is not a key issue – they rank circular approaches below the majority of other topics as important for their own business and even lower when choosing suppliers. We do see some more focus on it amongst dairy and meat producers.

Consumers

The circular economy as a concept does not arise in those exact terms from consumers when expressing their thoughts on sustainability.  However, some do reference the ability of sustainable choices to benefit everyone and the ability to reuse, which is a shift from the “make, take and dispose” mindset. It will require significant effort for this to enter the public consciousness or for this language to resonate en-masse.

Agenda Setters - 

I think we're going to start looking at our waste differently. I know some are looking at us, you know, but how can we turn waste into a business opportunity?
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications