WRAP-led feasibility studies unveiled to tackle food waste through social innovation

A coalition of food waste charities, waste prevention organisations and academia across Europe have launched feasibility studies, which will be led by WRAP, to tackle food waste through social innovation.

The European food waste prevention project is called FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies). Its UK partner WRAP is leading the delivery of the feasibility studies. The main aim of the project is to work towards a resource-efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste.

The project runs for four years [August 2012 to July 2016] and is funded by the European Commission framework programme seven and coordinated by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research.

The feasibility studies are being launched to test how social innovation can be used to tackle food waste, from using the internet to connect those with surplus food to those who need it, through to arranging community-based food preservation events.

In a statement, WRAP said: “Social innovation has huge potential to complement existing research, technological and communications activities, and using it to tackle food waste is a specific challenge set by the European Commission for FUSIONS.

“It brings people together to create solutions and take action. The feasibility studies are a great delivery tool which will deliver real-world findings that are easily diffused.”

Thirty-nine proposals responded to the call for ideas between February and November 2013. Seven will be delivered by FUSIONS’ Partners in countries around Europe. Over the coming months, these projects will be supported and evaluated so that FUSIONS can discover the potential of social innovation, and some of the key barriers and opportunities to its delivery.

UK-based Gleaning Network EU aims to disseminate best practice guidance and support for the creation of national gleaning networks to redistribute wasted fruit and vegetables from farms to charities.

The study will provide a model for collaboration between growers, grassroots volunteers and charities across Europe, as well as giving specific support to groups initiating gleaning networks.

Liz Gyekye

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