NEWLINK : New link in the cold chain between collective catering and food aid associations: inventory, cost-benefit analysis  and optimisation strategy

NEWLINK Exploratory project (2022)

NEWLINK : New link in the cold chain between collective catering and food aid associations: inventory, cost-benefit analysis and optimisation strategy

A study carried out by ADEME on food waste from collective catering establishments in France has shown that a restaurant serving 500 guests an average 200 days a year produces between 15 and 20 tonnes of waste a year, or, in budgetary terms, between 30,000 and 40,000 euros in food waste annually

Context and challenges

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To combat food waste in collective catering, the EGalim law (Article 88 > Art. L. 541-15-3 from the code de l’environnement and ordonnance 2019-1069 from 21 October 2019) requires establishments serving more than 3,000 meals a day to partner up with food aid associations to donate food. This strategy is part of an ethical and social approach (solidarity with the most underprivileged, fight against food insecurity) but also has environmental and economic benefits (reducing carbon footprints and curbing costs). However, this policy implies adding new steps  to the management of the cold chain process (packaging, collecting, transporting, storing and distributing donations) in order to guarantee the safety and quality of foods collected by associations until they can be consumed.

Studies have highlighted the need to take the social and technical conditions of cities into account when choosing how to manage flows and reduce waste without compromising the safety and quality of foodstuffs that may be redistributed and consumed (Guilbert et al. 2016). While many studies analyse the food supplies of cities and the entire urban system as a whole, very few look downstream to what purchases ultimately become: consumption, loss, waste and associated waste, their origins and their future.  An urban metabolism approach, understood as all of the material and energy flows that come into play in human societies, allows the supply and restitution of materials to be reconnected in the analysis of urban territories (Barles 2017). The approach allows for a better grasp of the issues in order to anticipate, stimulate and promote food waste prevention and recovery, and therefore to optimise the use of resources and raw materials. Thus, it is possible to explore how food waste reduction and recovery strategies can contribute to transforming the metabolism of territories, with a view to boosting sustainability.

The challenge of the project is to optimise the redistribution of unused food from collective catering to food aid associations and other populations in a given urban territory, while guaranteeing the safety and quality of food when it is finally consumed.

Goals

NEWLINK brings together skills from different fields, ranging from process engineering and computer science to the humanities and social sciences, calling upon both academic and professional players. The overall goal of the project is to optimise the redistribution of unused food from the collective catering sector to food aid associations and other populations in a given urban territory, while guaranteeing the safety and quality of food when it is finally consumed. Several questions have been raised:

  • Q1: How does the link between collective catering and food aid associations work? Who are the players, what constraints are involved with the roll-out, what products are collected and where do they come from (traceability),  what is their use-by date, what products are most involved, how long does each step in the process take, what equipment (refrigeration and other) and staff is needed, and what are the critical points that could compromise the quality of products being processed and prevent their redistribution and ultimate consumption?
  • Q2: What are the benefits (solidarity: economic and social aspects, waste reduction and environmental impact linked to waste) and costs (economic and environmental associated with this new link due to new staff and equipment) in a given territory? Are there solutions to sustain the economic model of this new link and increase the benefits and/or reduce the costs while respecting the quality of products?
  • Q3: How will the results of the cost-benefit analysis be affected with the optimisation of the redistribution of unsold food in a given territory and taking into account the presence of donor/recipient structures? What is the potential for expansion? Should an expansion threshold, or, on the contrary, a limit, be set in order to achieve a favourable cost-benefit ratio? How will trends in the redistribution market influence these developments?

Contact - Coordination :

INRAE and non-INRAE partners

INRAE Structures

The NEWLINK project is made up of people from different INRAE fields, research units and divisions who wish to open up dialogues between their research to rise to the societal and scientific challenges of tomorrow’s cities.

TRANSFORM division

UR FRISE

Coordinator
Multi-criteria analysis, energy and environmental impact of refrigeration equipment, cold chain, food quality

ACT division

UMR SADAPT

Territorial ecology, estimate of flows from surveys and database analyses, inter-disciplinary analysis  of territorial metabolism

MICA division

UMR SECALIM

Safety and quality of foods,  microbiological lifespan
Predictive microbiology
Risk – benefit / multi-criteria assessment

Modification date : 14 November 2023 | Publication date : 08 March 2022 | Redactor : Com