The Nudge Explores Circular Cities Tour 2015 is on a trip through Europe from May 11 to May 21, collecting great Circle Economy examples. Our 5 ambassadors report their findings. This is one of the projects they visited.
Written by Nudge Ambassador Thomas Hermans and Rob Jetten
20 May 2015
During our short stay in Milan we visited Venti Sostenibili, an organisation that brings together social enterprises in and around Milan. At The Milano HUB, a shared space for startups and homebase of Venti Sostenibili, we discussed two of their fruitful projects and also what’s needed to move to a circular economy.
Giulia Detomati, founder of Venti Sostenibili, started a project called Caffè in Campo, literally meaning coffee in the fields. Coffee grounds are being collected around Milan from coffee bars and coffee machine factories and are being used as fertilizers for agriculture. “We decided to work with coffee as there are a lot of companies around Milan who are working with coffee beans. And of course, restaurants and bars serve a lot of coffee!”
This project came about due to the ZeroWaste strategy, formulated by the local municipality. Working together with 62 local coffee bars, local municipalities and farmers who use the coffee grounds as fertilizers means that Giulia has to connect all these stakeholders. Cafe in Campo is now a small project, but shows that circular thinking works. Dream Cazzaniga, who also works on Cafe in Campo “The municipality is really committed. After the project ends, the municipality will continue the work”.
Caffè in Campo is also partnering with Polititechniko University in Turino for researching oil extraction for the use shampoo, make-up, fertilizer, etc. (see also article on Rotterzwam). There are so many useful elements in coffee waste, it is worthwhile to explore this field.
One of the dilemmas the Caffè in Campo project is facing is waste collecting regulation. Coffee grounds, by law, need to be treated first before used in agriculture. This is a pity, because the longer you wait, the less fertilizer is in the coffee.
Another inspiring Italian project is facing the same kind of difficulties. Anna Berscianini works at CAUTO where food left overs are gathered from supermarkets and hospitals to be used for people with limited means. 80% of the big food selling companies put their waste in a big bin so it is hard to reuse. If you improve the way you collect the ‘waste’ you can create a residual product that can be reused. This improves the environment, creates jobs and feeds mouths. “We’re telling the supermarkets: you have food, food for people, food for animals, packaging which can be reused, waste which can be used for biomass energy”.
CAUTO asks the supermarkets to sign a declaration to donate food waste. This makes that the food is not considered waste and no waste taxes need to be paid. CAUTO collects the food almost on a daily basis from 120 companies, redistribute it with 300 volunteers and help 7000 people per week.
Both CAUTO and Caffè in Campo show that circularity is an economical attractive and smart way of organizing our product chains. They also show that legal regulations, based upon a linear economy make it sometimes hard to act in a circular manner. People are not used to thinking in circles value chains. Not yet!