- Jean-Paul Garin, Nisfi Mubarokah & Arpit Bhutani
Food Waste in the Municipality of Copenhagen: A Circular Economy Vision
Copenhagen has the aim to become the first carbon-neutral city in the world by 2025 (City of Copenhagen, 2020). Denmark is also an economic leader with the Greater Copenhagen area having been ranked the North European hub for economic and innovative development in 2017 (Szerb et al., 2017). In fact, with 30% of the nation's population, the region contributes to 40% of the country’s GDP (Denmark's statistics, 2019). Nonetheless, with an average quantity of 844 kg of waste generated per capita per year, Denmark ranked first in municipal waste generation within the EU in 2019 (Statista, 2019). Even though the waste per capita generation is smaller in Copenhagen than in the rest of the country, it must still be reduced if the city wants to reach its ambitious goal of climate neutrality (European Commission, 2014).
That is why, in recent years, the city of Copenhagen has focused increasingly on the opportunities of implementing a circular economy to reach its goals. The opportunities surrounding food waste are huge. In the Capital Region, 36% of total waste ends up in residual waste, with half of that amount constituting food waste (226 000 tons) (Metabolic, 2020). In addition to that, the region generates 230.000 tonnes of biowaste that is recycled into compost or used in biorefineries. Out of more than 400 000 tonnes, 60% could have been saved at the supermarket and household level, and 81% is incinerated, losing economic and functional value with a loss of nutrients contained in the biomass (Københavns Kommune, 2019).
This paper discusses the food waste issue in Copenhagen, the solutions already implemented, and a way forward to achieve a circular economy vision for food. It begins with identifying the current framework of law, starting at the EU level, then the national level, and finally at the municipal level. Case studies from different cities, Milan and Seoul, are provided to give examples of how established measures manage food waste effectively. Furthermore, the article discusses how a circular economy can be a solution for the Municipality of Copenhagen by providing detailed actions that have been done, what can be improved, and actors that can potentially play an important role. Finally, the article concludes by depicting a way forward to implement a circular economy vision in Copenhagen.
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