Environmental Impact of Circular Agro-Food Chains

Regional cycles of nutrients and materials are characteristic of circular agro and food chains. It seeks links between companies that ensure that the output of one process becomes the input for another process.

New business models are being developed, aimed at circular and biobased production. Think of the refining of duckweed for protein and reduction of food waste. Business models are often still associated with economic value only, but the addition of environmental impact indicators is becoming increasingly important. The issues surrounding climate change, land use and the consumption of fossil energy are examples of this. It is not self-evident that circular enterprise leads to a low (er) footprint.

Environmental Impact of Circular Agro-Food Chain (MICAF) is an associate professorship linked to the professorship Sustainable Agribusiness in Metropolitain Areas. The aim of the associate professorship is to provide insight into the environmental impact of agro and food chains that want to produce in a circular manner.

Companies will in the future become more dependent on each other's (residual) flows and how they value them circularly for the circular and bio-based economy. The realization that these can not always be more sustainable than fossil products plays a crucial role in this. 

Circular developments must not be at the expense of the implicit sustainable character. It is important to express this in units and indicators and to give a picture of how the company performs in and with the chain on the environment, but also on the financial and social level. Communicating this is not only important for those involved, but also for the social debate in which issues such as eating less animal food, reducing the use of scarce resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

At the moment - in collaboration with the aforementioned lectureships - various environmental projects have already been given shape to the analysis of environmental impact alongside.

Mission/objective

The mission of the associate professorship is to contribute to the development of circular and sustainable agro and food chains in collaboration with Van Hall Larenstein (education and research) and the business community by making the environmental impact and circularity measurable. The research group contributes, among other things, to the mission of the Sustainable Agribusiness Professor in Metropolitaine Areas: 'Developing sustainable business models and value chains for the production of regional and fresh food products'.

In the coming decades, a transition to a circular and biobased economy is going on. Circular work means integrating and accounting for residual flows as much as possible that can serve as input for another production process and also reducing waste, such as food waste. It is essential that this is done in a socially responsible manner with the lowest possible footprint and with as many closed cycles as possible.

To quantify the environmental impact, various methods are used from general scans to detailed life cycle analyzes (LCAs). In order to express the circularity of the agro and food chains, other indicators will be used as a supplement.

About the professor

Jerke de Vries obtained his MSc in Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering from Wageningen UR and obtained his doctorate in 2013 with a thesis entitled 'From animals to crops - Environmental consequences of current and future strategies for manure management'. As a teacher Jerke de Vries is involved in the courses Business Administration and Agribusiness and International Business.

Dr ir Jerke de Vries

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about the applied research group, then e-mail your question to jerke.devries@hvhl.nl, call +31 (0)58-28 46 308 or find Jerke de Vries on social media: Facebook | LinkedIn

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