HomeProgressUpcycling economy, upcycled food. The revolution against waste

Upcycling economy, upcycled food. The revolution against waste

La upcycling economy and upcycled food they assert themselves on the international scene as a revolution, after decades of overproduction of food surpluses and waste (1,2).

The reuse of food loss e food waste reduces business costs and is promoted with new recruits marketing inspired by the sustainability of food production and consumption.

1) Upcycled Food Association (UFA)

UFAUpcycled Food Association, is the association set up in Denver (Colorado, USA) which brings together more than 250 companies, worldwide, to foster supply chain synergies and promote a specific certification system.

'Certified Upcycled' is the collective brand that appears on several hundred ingredients and products where at least 10% of the raw materials derive from upcycling. With an overall recovery estimated at almost one million tons of food.

2) Upcycling economy, Because

'Over 30% of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, and that's a big problem for society and the planet. Upcycled food prevents this problem by creating new, high-quality products from surplus food' (UFA).

virtuous recovery it can therefore restore value to foodstuffs – today wasted – the production of which has absorbed 20% of water resources, 25% of cultivated land and 8% of greenhouse gases produced in the agri-food supply chains.

3) Upcycling business

'60% of people want to buy more upcycled food products, and that's because 95% of us want to do our part to reduce food waste' (Upcycled Food Association).

The launch on the market USA of new upcycled food, +122% in the five-year period ended in the third quarter of 2021, exceeded that of products with recycled plastic packaging and those with indications on carbon dioxide emissions.

The value of sales it is currently valued at approximately $46,7 billion. The volumes of materials subtracted from food waste would in turn register a significant increase (+6,4%, 2022 on 2021).

4) Upcycled foods, the 5 distinctive elements according to UFA

Upcycled Food Association organized in 2020 a group of experts – from Harvard Law School, Drexel University, Natural Resources Defense Council, WWF and ReFED – to develop a definition of 'upcycled foods'. It was thus possible to converge on the 5 distinctive elements of foods obtained from upcycling.

4.1) Ingredients otherwise intended for secondary uses

The ingredients used in upcycled foods are subtracted from the various secondary uses described in the Lansink scale, paradigm of the circular economy.

Produce food instead of allocating waste for recycling into feed or fertilizers (compost), energy valorisation (ie anaerobic digesters), destination for waste.

4.2) Added value

The processes di upcycling recover and convert value that would otherwise be lost into secondary uses of materials (see above), to create a sustainable and resilient food system.

The added value it should also be redistributed in the supply chain, we add. So that everyone, from farm to forkcan also benefit from an economic point of view. Win win.

4.3) Human consumption (e petfood)

Upcycling it is about elevating food to its noblest destiny, to feed human beings. Or offer goods of similar value (e.g. food supplements, medicines, cosmetics).

The brand 'Upcycled Certified' is also granted to the petfood, for reasons of business which in the opinion of the writer do not reconcile with the criterion based on theupcycling (see par. 4.1).

4.4) Verifiable supply chain

La supply chain must be verified, according to UFA experts, so that recycled food really contributes to reducing waste.

The logic is to use all the nutrients grown on farms and help farmers get more value out of their businesses.

4.5) Transparency on the label

Foods 'Upcycled certified', therefore subject to the UFA certification system, must then provide transparent information on the label.

Customers they must be able to understand which ingredients they come from upcycling, to be encouraged to contribute to the fight against food waste.

5) Innovation, women empowerment

Agricycle Global has started working with 35 small farmers, in rural communities in various areas of the planet, to offer low-barrier technologies useful for transforming waste into food ingredients.

Jali Fruit Co. works atwomen empowerment of women, young people and small farmers in 40 cooperatives in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Affordable innovation to reduce food waste e food loss in the cultivation, harvesting and processing of fruit.

The network agricultural producers of Sabina, in central Italy, aspire to produce snack and semi-finished products from fruit discarded with solar dryers developed by Crea (Centre for engineering and food processing). (4)

6) Fermentation

Ferment'Up. Green Spot Technologies, founded in Ramonville-Saint-Agne (Occitania, France) with EU contributions, uses an eco-designed fermentation process to produce flours with a high nutrient density starting from tomato pulp, apple peels, brewery ..

Regrained in Berkeley (California, USA) in turn obtains an innovative flour with a high protein and prebiotic fiber content, SuperGrain+®, from the fermentation of the cereals used to extract the malt in the breweries. And thus produces pasta, snack functional and high added value ingredients for baking and other sectors.

upcycling economy

# SDG12, Target 12.3. By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses


Dario Dongo and Giulia Pietrollini

Footnotes to the story

(1) Dario Dongo. upccycling the high road of research and innovation. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.1.2023

(2) Giulio Vulcano, Dario Dongo, Food waste, a systemic approach to tackle the ecological and social crisis. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.3.19

(3) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Upcycling, the improved reuse in the agri-food chain. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 6.10.21

(4) FruFun. Low environmental impact production of innovative functional foods with fruit produced by agricultural companies in the Sabine area. Innovarural https://www.innovarurale.it/it/pei-agri/gruppi-operativi/bancadati-go-pei/produzione-basso-impatto-ambientale-di-alimenti

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Graduated in industrial biotechnology and passionate about sustainable development, she participates in the research projects of Wiise Srl benefit

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