Circular Food Economy

Food is a fundamental requirement of life on this planet. However, the basic structure of today’s linear “take-make-dispose” food system is unsustainable—economically, socially and environmentally.

In Guelph-Wellington, one in six families experience food insecurity, and the cost of healthy food keeps increasing. Meanwhile, between a third and a half of the food we produce is thrown away. Much of that ends up in landfill, where it creates the greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

Our Food Future is Guelph-Wellington’s initiative to reimagine how we produce, distribute, sell and consume food. We imagine a food system where everyone can access nutritious food, nothing is wasted, and the impact on our environment is minimal. We imagine a system where food experts and entrepreneurs come together to tackle our most complex food challenges.

In a circular economy, food is designed to cycle, so the by-products from one enterprise provides input for the next. We can make the most of food by redistributing surplus edible food, while turning the remaining inedible by-products into new products, ranging from organic fertilisers for regenerative peri-urban farming, to biomaterials, medicine, and bioenergy.

Rather than our plates and green bins being a final destination for food,  food by-products can be transformed, through emerging technologies and innovations, into a broad array of valuable materials. These could range from organic fertilisers and biomaterials, to medicine and bioenergy, thereby driving new revenue streams in a thriving bioeconomy. Besides ensuring that edible food is distributed to citizens, the choice of the ‘best’ option depends on the local context, including the type of available feedstock, and the demands for particular products in that specific region.

Guelph-Wellington is inspired by circular economy ideas and being home to an emerging regional circular food system.  Alongside our community, we will share our ideas, data and technology solutions to move from the current system to a sustainable and thriving food economy that creates new jobs, and values our planet, health, equity and dignity for everyone.

Diagram show a comparison between the Linear Food economy, Recycling economy and circular economy of food streams.