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What is a circular food economy?

A circular food economy essentially replicates what occurs in nature in terms of waste regeneration, effectively eliminating it as it becomes feedstock for a new cycle. Applying a circular economy entails a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as waste-reduction.

To solve this issue efficiently a number of key questions must be addressed: how can waste in the food industry be reduced? Why is this so vital for our future? In what way does the food industry impact the economy? This is why Enel X is committed to bringing together leading firms along the Italian agri-food value chain with university researchers and Enel X’s cross-industry vision, best-in-class measuring tools and technology solutions to reduce this negative impact. Furthermore, on a broader level, we are committed to acting as an enabler of innovation and technological transformation for smarter and more sustainable living, effectively leading the transition toward a future-proof development model, with the Circular Economy as a crucial pillar. We believe it effectively solves the biggest challenges in today's world.

How to reduce waste in the food industry?

Energy waste occurs in many ways. The agri-food sector, as one of Italy’s leading strategic industries, has an enormous negative impact on the environment. Thanks to the circular economy model we can cut emissions and promote sustainable growth. There are many ways to reduce energy waste, but what they all have in common is that they will cut utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. For example, reducing energy waste in manufacturing and improving production line efficiency is essential if manufacturers are to comply with mandatory greenhouse gas emissions regulations. The reduction of plastic waste is also essential. This entails reduction of plastic wastes both during the packaging phase and distribution. 

Enel X Circular Solutions

We measure the level of circularity of our products to help customers make the most sustainable choice.

The key aspects to be considered to reduce waste are: 

  • An efficient use of water and energy, achieved by process-optimization

  • The full use of the agricultural resources for human consumption

  • Preventing the use of packaging waste materials which includes a correct management of their end-of-life cycle

  • Preventing food waste and management of food excesses 

Enel X's circular products and services for people, cities and businesses meet the needs of clients and consumers while respecting the environment and maximizing economic benefits

Circular economy in the food industry: why is it so important for our future?

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy

A new model for creating value

Why is the circular economy in the food industry so important? Because changing our food system is one of the most impactful things we can do to address climate change. The current food system has fuelled urbanization, economic development, and supported a fast-growing population but at an extremely high cost for the environment and society. Thus the first step to address the implementation of the circular economy in the food industry is to examine the true cost of the current approach to food production. The productivity gains of  the current food system have come at a cost, and today’s model is not fit to meet tomorrow’s longer term needs. In a circular economy, food is designed to cycle, so the by-products from one enterprise provides input for the next.
It is within this context that the launching of the Food and Circular Economy Observatory will identify specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the sector and study the trade-offs, challenges, opportunities, technologies and solutions circular food systems offer. By examining development gaps in the sector, the Observatory will also provide a roadmap with customizable technology solutions that will help participating firms along the agri-food value chain improve their level of circular maturity.

How does the food industry affect the economy?

Circular economy-food production: what is their relationship? Circular economy (CE) is an approach that decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, designs out waste, and instead promotes an economic model based on sharing, leasing, reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling, in an (almost) closed loop. Data driven innovation is fast reshaping the way we produce and consume food. It enhances the potential to manage natural resources more efficiently and to care for the ecosystems that our food production relies on without exceeding finite boundaries.

At Enel X, one of our missions is to help transition today’s leading and most resource-intensive industries to a circular model, one which makes abundant re-use of resources and eliminates waste.

Enel X and Roma Tre University together for the Food and Circular Economy Observatory

Enel X and the Department of Business Economics at the Roma Tre University have teamed up to launch the “Food and Circular Economy Observatory”, the first initiative of its kind in this sector. The Observatory will offer a snapshot of the current situation and determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that will assist participating firms in evaluating their circularity efforts. This food Observatory will be a key part of efforts to develop a sustainable production model that centers around eco-innovation, digitization and ecological transition — one that highlights best practices and gaps in the current model and offers a roadmap of measures required to bring the industry in line with broader circular economy objective. At the end of the year, the Observatory will present a report outlining the state of the industry in terms of its circular economy maturity, highlighting best practices and gaps, as well as proposing plans to further integrate circular economy principles into the sector. The long-term objective is to strengthen Italy’s role in the world in terms of best practices in circular food systems.


Food and Circular Economy Observatory

Food and Circular Economy Observatory

An overview of the circular maturity level of the Italian agri-food industry.