KAIROS-BIOCIR aims to contribute and foster bio-circular economy by building climate smart food systems adaptive to climate change, implementing resource-efficient circular economy principles across the whole food system while reducing its environmental footprint, ensuring that nutritious food and water is available and affordable for all, and helping consumers to adopt more sustainable and healthy diets.
The definition of this general objective includes three partial objectives that support the actions to be undertaken in each of the coordinated projects of the proposal:
Building climate smart food systems adaptive to climate change, conserving natural resources and contributing to climate change mitigation.
Implementing resource-efficient circular economy principles across the whole agri-food system while reducing its environmental footprint.
Designing sustainable and healthy diets for good health and wellbeing.
Currently, food loss and waste rates are still too high for a system that aims at improving its efficiency as a strategy to reduce stress on food availability and contribute to climate change mitigation. In this context, an urgent need to transform those systems into a bio-circular economy emerges. This implies managing natural resources sustainably, specifically those included in the food system, contributing to an efficient and sustainable use of biological resources, against the backdrop of an increasing demand for biomass.
In this overall context, the KAIROS-BIOCIR project fits well with the European Bio-economy Strategy providing a coherent framework that cuts across various sectors and policies, allowing to build synergies, addressing trade-offs and delivering sustainability across various policy and sectoral objectives. Moreover, the KAIROS-BIOCIR Project aims to develop a Nexus assessment approach to understand the interactions between water, energy and food systems and links with human resources in the Spanish agri-food, and to evaluate the performance of a technical or policy intervention in this context. Currently, there is no universally recognised methodology for nexus analysis. However, Life Cycle Assessment is particularly important for understanding the interconnections in the nexus, as it enables the consideration of entire supply chains.
KAIROS-BIOCIR project is composed by three sub-projects:
TRANVERSAL ACTIONS: MANAGEMENT AND COMMUNICATION ACTIONS
Action 1 COORDINATION. Composition of the working group composed by two representatives of each subproject and selected stakeholders. The group will be formed by a multi-level approach involving private, public and third sector to address common challenges. It will also coordinate all activities between subprojects. Coordination and monitoring of meeting partners activities. And definition of feasibility, quality and Risk Management Strategies.
Action 2 COMMUNICATION. Project results will be transmitted to society, by informative, technical and scientific channels. In addition, dissemination of the results in scientific journals and conferences will contribute to reach a wider scientific audience and provide new interaction opportunities with other scientific groups and topics, capitalising the results of the project.
SUBPROJECT 1: STRATEGIES RELATED TO CLIMATE SMART AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS
Improving the efficiency of the Food Supply Chain (FSC) and reducing food loss and waste (FLW) have been identified as essential means of increasing food security, while reducing pressure on natural resources and contributing to climate change mitigation. To assess the reliability of future strategies, the scientific and methodological challenge is not only the quantification of FLW, but also the ‘qualification’ in economic, energetic and nutritional terms. The challenge is to identify bottlenecks to target actions for energy improvements. Although incorporation of renewable technologies can aid in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing FLW can also reduce the energy demand which is directly related to energy security issues.
ACTION 3. LIFE CYCLE-ORIENTED DATASETS AND MODELS.
Life cycle assessment will be applied to the agri-food sector to quantify main inputs and outputs of the product system in a life cycle inventory (LCI) according to European Life Cycle Database (ELCD).
ACTION 4. LIFECYCLE WATER-ENERGY-FOOD NEXUS
A new approach to assess agri-food lifecycle is proposed based on the nexus of water-energy-food systems. The water-energy-food nexus allows assessing the lifecycle of agri-food products under a holistic manner considering the whole supply chain.
SUBPROJECT 2: STRATEGIES RELATED TO CIRCULARITY AND RESOURCE EFFICIENCY OF FOOD SYSTEMS
Fruits and vegetables are some of the food products that present the highest values in terms of waste and loss, despite the fact that nutritional experts highlight these products as essential for a balanced and healthy diet. Therefore, it appears imperative reducing the amounts of food loss and waste, and searching for strategies to valorise them. This could be done from a circular bio-economy approach. That means looking for an eco-efficient use of resources (raw materials, water and energy) that go into producing food products for as long as possible, while also paying attention to prevention, resources efficiency, environmental performance, sustainable sourcing and consumer awareness.
ACTION 5. CIRCULARITY ACTIONS AND INDICATORS UNDER A BIOECONOMY APPOACH
Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) measures how restorative flows are maximized and linear flows are minimized, considering also the length and intensity of the product’s use. Very few proposals have been published specifically to measure the circularity of agri-food systems. This action aims at fulfilling this gap by means of proposing a set of adapted circularity indicators.
ACTION 6. TECHNICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ACTIONS UNDER A CIRCULAR ECONOMY APPOACH
Eco-design applied to the packaging is a source of added value for the agri-food products. On the other hand, residue agri-food losses and waste could be used more profitably as food, animal feed or as resources for biorefining, depending on the raw material that is fermented. An environmental assessment under a life cycle approach to compare different alternatives is essential to find out the better option.
SUBPROJECT 3: STRATEGIES FOR NUTRITION FOR SUSTAINABLE AND HEALTHY DIETS
Food consumption patterns play an important role, since they are drivers of food production. Diet transition towards western type of diets have negative healthy and environmental impacts. On the other hand, healthier and a more plant-based diets show environmental benefits. This subproject aims to enlarge the assessment of diets with an integrative approach that considers both life cycle assessment and water-energy-food nexus frameworks. Moreover, this subproject will focus on the potential of alternative sources of protein and novel food products, and the assessment of the nutritional and environmental benefits of their adoption within the diet. Finally, changes in diets and adopting alternative food products may have an economic impact, both at the consumer and national level which will be also assessed within this subproject.
ACTION 7. ALTERNATIVE AGRI-FOOD PRODUCTS
Alternative sources of protein and alternative food products will be required to address the needs, which could range from the engineering of novel proteins to the introduction of novel protein sources to geographic regions where they have not been consumed before (such as chia seeds, rapeseed protein, food ingredients coming from fungi or algae or insects).
ACTION 8. SUSTAINABLE ASSESSMENT OF DIETS
First, a new assessment that integrates the LCA and the WEF nexus approaches will be developed. Second, the potential benefits of introducing novel food products within the diets will be analysed. Third, an optimisation of diets, considering alternative food products, will be performed. Finally, the cost of healthy and sustainable eating will be assessed.
TRANSVERSAL SOCIOECONOMIC ACTIONS
Action 9 GREEN ECONOMY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE. The main objective of this action is to analyse the economic and social implications of the introduction of a new bio-circular economy for the agri-food sector, as well as, to determine the economic benefits and drawbacks of implementing actions for proposed strategies under a circular and NEXUS eco-labelling approach.