Recycling Food System Nutrients in a Circular Economy

Piet Derikx*, O. Oenema, Th.V. Vellinga, Koos Verloop, J. Weijma, Wyno Zwanenburg, P.L. de Wolf, Linda de Bie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Planet Earth already exists for over 5 billion years, while humans have been around for only a million years.The impact of human activity on the natural ecosystem has increased dramatically over the last few hundred years, mainly through agriculture, industry, and urbanisation, resulting in the consumption of natural resources at high rate. Modern agriculture, with the use of fertilizers and agrochemicals, has increased productivity drastically and has loosened the connection between location of food production and location of food consumption. As a result local/regional accumulation of nutrients occurs in terms of waste streams with negative impact on the environment, in combination with regional depletion elsewhere.The circular economy has been generally accepted now by most scientists, policy makers and entrepreneurs, as concept and new paradigm for organizing the food production –consumption cycle. As a consequence any stream of material within that cycle should be considered as an input elsewhere in the cycle. The main question addressed in this paper is ‘how to organize the recycling of food system nutrients effectively and efficiently’?As socio-economic, environmental and cultural conditions differ from one place to the other on the planet there is not one single solution that fits all food systems for organizing a circular economy. Therefore, a mix of several solutions may occur side by side. This diversity will contribute positively to the robustness of the system towards fluctuations due to impacts generated either by nature or by mankind. An important constraints to modifications to food systems is that the modifications and recycling are acceptable by the stakeholders involved. Therefore, initiatives have to be taken to bring together different stakeholders in order to exchange ideas and to explore common grounds for future cooperation. Position papers are written to stimulate partners to move away from their own comfort zone and think about new types of solutions. As the world changes, new techniques become available and new generations prefer to make different choices. What was good in the past might no longer be good enough for the future. Here the first results from this forward-looking and integrated approach are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Conference on Agricultural Engineering AgEng2018
EditorsP.W.G. Koerkamp, C. Lokhorst, B. Ipema, C. Kempenaar, C.M. Groenestein, C.G. van Oostrum, N.J. Ros
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen University & Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
EventAgEng Conference 2018: New Engineering concepts for a valued agriculture - Wageningen, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Jul 201812 Jul 2018


ConferenceAgEng Conference 2018
Internet address

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