Through the GERValor Project co-financed by the Environmental Fund, GERTAL, the largest operator in the area of collective restoration in Portugal and the ISQ Group, will seek solutions for the recovery of organic food waste by fostering the Circular Economy in gertal's value chain. The objective will be to study and achieve an innovative business model, which will identify the interconnection between GERTAL and different economic agents, the different technological solutions and the different ranks, with the purpose of ensuring the economic recovery of organic food waste and the consequent reduction of food waste. The social, environmental and economic impacts of food waste are very high. Food waste is a cause for increasing concern in Europe. In September 2015, as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the goal of haliing per capita food waste at retail and consumer level and reducing food losses along production and supply chains. At the same time, the social impacts of food waste are very high (one third of all food produced by the global agricultural system ends up in waste- World Resources Institute). Throwing away food creates a certain indigestion of guilt, especially when alarming numbers of people who starve and even starve to be resounding in the various media. On the other hand, food production has impacts on the consumption of natural resources, such as soil, water and energy, and indirectly on environmental pollution, due to the use of fertilizers and pesticides and greenhouse gases emitted during primary production, for example in animal and fruit production, or during recovery or disposal (composting, landfill). Food waste thus entails a significant waste of natural resources and negative environmental impacts. In this context, the collective restoration sector, which operates in the area of preparation and sale of prepared meals, faces a number of challenges with regard to the sustainability of the food system. This type of activity, is responsible for the production of a large amount of organic and inorganic waste, as well as food waste. GERTAL is the largest company in the sector, serving 61.3 million meals in Portugal in 2016. These meals represented a volume of purchases of 40,000 ton of food raw material, which after being introduced into the value chain generated approximately 8,875 ton of waste, of which 7,854 ton were organic food waste. The industrial challenge is ambitious. Finding an economically viable way of valuing food waste, as well as waste from meal confection, presents itself as a very ambitious industrial challenge from an economic, social and environmental point of view. Re-use for other purposes of waste and waste, in accordance with the principles of the Circular Economy, is forcibly the possible re-use of by-products with greater added value or with a viable social purpose at the end of the chain. To achieve this goal it will be necessary to "follow an unknown path" and pioneer, both in Portugal and in Europe. The GERValor project will thus contribute to the implementation of a joint and balanced strategy whose ultimate objective will be to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy in the food production sector and the economic, environmental and social enhancement of organic food waste. This target is of utmost importance for GERTAL in that:
- The increase in knowledge of GERTAL's agri-food value chain allows us to analyze the various stages of the life cycle of meal production and identify opportunities for the recovery of organic food waste in the collective restoration sector.
- The identification of relevant information, presenting possible paths and solutions towards the recovery of organic food waste and creation of by-products, identifying the existing opportunities and challenges to be faced, may allow the identification of new economic activities within or intercompany, corresponding to a larger and more diversified network of services of the Trivalor Group and with greater added value.
A solid partnership will contribute to the success of the project. The GERValor Project arises from a history of collaboration between GERTAL and the ISQ Group, which has identified lines of complementarity between the two institutions for collaboration in various initiatives, including the field of the Circular Economy, namely the application of this concept in the fight against food waste. In the field of scientific and technological knowledge, ISQ is an important national actor in several topics related to the Circular Economy. This partnership is joined by Labiagro- Chemical and Microbiological Laboratory, dedicated to food quality control, which will bring to the project unique knowledge in the field of agri-food value chain. With this project, the ISQ Group assumes itself as a strategic partner for various economic agents in the circular economy theme. The GERValor project will contribute to enhance the sustainability of the existing partnership, with future initiatives in the TRIVALOR Group already planned based on the results achieved by the project.