The project

i-REXFO in a circular economy

i-REXFO is an innovative development and business model that aims at reducing food waste through a holistic approach, optimising communication and involving all players (stakeholders) in the food cycle (production, distribution, use, end-of-life).

Why

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Why

With one-quarter of the world population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, one-third of the food produced in the world gets lost or ends up in landfills. But there’s more. The production of uneaten food involves the use of 250 billion m3 of water, occupies 30% of the world’s agricultural land area, and release 3.3 billion tonnes of climate-altering gases. The direct economic consequences of all this waste amount to 750 billion dollars each year (source: FAO).

According to FAO, food waste in industrialised countries are caused by a combination of factors:
- consumers’ behaviour: incorrect shopping planning, poor understanding of best before and use by dates, excess purchases, and lack of the habit of storing and eating leftovers;
- a production-procurement-distribution chain that does not give enough value to food that is near its expiration date, nonconforming products, and the donation of surplus;
- a legal and authorisation system that does not promote the reuse of food waste in the animal feed industry or, more recently, its use in biomass-fed biogas production plants.

Goal

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Our Goal

The i-REXFO project aims at demonstrating that food waste can be reduced through an innovative business model that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

i-REXFO is based on an integrated model, in which expired food to energy (EFE) valorisation supports the Reduction of Expired Food (REF) chain.

How

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How

The project focuses on food waste produced by the food industry and farms, large-scale distribution, the catering industry (hotels, restaurants, bars, HORECA), and consumers. It does so through measures that reduce food waste and increase waste-to-energy valorisation.

Based on the good practices in Europe (Denmark), i-REXFO has developed open-source software to plan and optimise the integrated model from a technical, economic, and environmental point of view.

The i-REXFO model raises the awareness of consumers and operators in the large-scale distribution and HORECA sectors; promotes the sale and use of food that is near its expiration date, less aesthetically pleasing, and increases donations of surplus food to charities and food banks. These measures are backed by the collection and use of expired food for the production of biogas in anaerobic digestion plants, which use the resulting digestate as a fertiliser, thereby completing the cycle.

The i-REXFO model will be demonstrated in Umbria and then transferred to other countries (Hungary).

Impact

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Expected Impact

  • 8,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided every year;
  • 3,400 tonnes of food waste a year from the food industry, farms, shopping centres, and restaurants that don’t end up in landfills;
  • 480,000 m3 of water saved every year;
  • 2,800 MWh a year of energy produced from renewable sources;
  • 2,400 MWh in energy savings every year;
  • 1,100 ha a year in reduced soil consumption;
  • 128,000 aware consumers, thanks to the project’s campaigns and activities.
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