Bio&Co collects food waste and uses it together with crop residues to make compost, which is used in organic farming
Bio&Co is a project of a Romanian NGO, Ateliere Fara Frontiere, promoting social integration and work integration for extremely disadvantaged people, responsible waste management and environmental protection, solidarity and responsibility for sustainable development.
Huge amounts of food are wasted even before reaching consumers and are discarded by supermarkets, usually going to landfills. Also, a large part of domestic waste is represented by bio-degradable materials that could be recycled by composting.
The Bio&Co project started in 2015 in Ciocanari, Dambovita county, with technical support from Réseau Cocagne, France. It collects waste food from supermarkets, hotels and restaurants on a 1000 m2 composting platform. The compost is used in the organic farm and green house of the social enterprise and the produce is delivered in a short supply chain to subscribers, mainly in Bucharest.
The organic farm is an example of circular economy of biological flows, because all waste is recycled on the composting platform together with food waste from supermarkets. Considering the large amounts of food waste resulting from supermarkets and restaurants, there is also potential to sell the compost in the future.
Stakeholders are Ateliere Fara Frontiere NGO, Carrefour supermarket chain, Accor Hotels. Beneficiaries are the employees of the Bio&Co organic farm and subscribers.
As a non-profit enterprise, it currently relies on sponsorships, grants and 30% generated revenues, but there is potential to cover up to 70% of its operating costs from generated revenues.
Evidence of success
- 20 green jobs for people at risk of poverty and exclusion were created
- 1023 t waste food collected in 2016-2018
- over 4783 vegetable baskets delivered to over 200 subscribers in 2016-2018
- 27253 kg of food diverted from waste and reused / donated to social canteens
- 1000 m2 composting platform
- 4000 m2 greenhouses and 4 ha agricultural land used for organic farming, where compost from the platform is applied
- over 80 varieties grown
- organic certification
It is cheaper for waste generators to landfill than to reuse or recycle, as Romania has no tax for disposal (2018).
There are concerns related to waste regulations (the law against food waste). If companies no longer pay taxes for donated food, there will be little money left for sponsoring NGOs.
Potential for learning or transfer
Considering the amounts of food discarded from supermarkets and restaurants, there is huge potential for replication of this good practice. Such social enterprises could be established close to large cities in order to contribute to waste prevention and promote circular economy of organic flows. Composting also offers the possibility to create green jobs for unemployed people in these areas.
The NGO plans to develop an educational organic farm, where children can learn about healthy food, waste prevention and sound management, environmental protection.
The project is a good example of bio-based circular economy.
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