Recycling nutrients and creating circular nutrient loops in food and agricultural chains

Project characteristics

Action: Veolia and Yara catalysed the Nutrient Upcycling Alliance (NUA), a business-driven alliance of food value chain players to implement and promote the redesign of the whole value chain for nutrient upcycling in the agriculture and food sector.

The NUA realizes a circular economy for food, where the entire concept of food waste is designed out. The NUA closes the loop by upcycling food waste from cities to peri-urban agriculture as performing organomineral and organic fertilizers.

Project details

Execution: Upcycling nutrients at scale demands new ways of working and an unprecedented level of collaboration across the agri-food system in cities and peri-urban areas.

The NUA works with partners to collect and consolidate food waste, process waste to high quality fertilizers and soil improvers, support the application of these products to peri-urban agriculture and ensure valorization throughout the food chain.

Key benefits of the approach include:

  • Valorization of unavoidable food waste
  • Business solutions for recycling nutrients from food directly back to agriculture and closing the nutrient loop
  • Developing the use of regenerative agriculture practices, and subsequent positive impact on health, the environment and a more resilient agriculture and food system.
  • Supporting farmers’ profitability when transitioning to regenerative practices

Progress: The NUA is being piloted in London to demonstrate the profitability and replicability of nutrient upcycling. The pilot monitors and quantifies the positive impact of circularity and regenerative agricultural practices as natural climate solutions.

Key stakeholders, including farmers’ associations, food companies, municipalities and retailers have joined the alliance, and a wide network of experts is mobilized to support its effective realization. Targets, deliverables and workstream are fixed. A comprehensive mapping of peri-urban agriculture, farmer needs, food waste sources and existing infrastructure are complete, and ongoing contact with farmers and process evaluation is underway.


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