Catalonia is situated in the western of the Mediterranean, and is an autonomous community of the Spanish state. It has an estimated population of 7,716,760 inhabitants (2021) and a total area of 31.930 km2. The region lodges more than 637,775 companies of different size and employs more than 3,479,400 people in a wide range of sectors.
Thanks to its industrial fabric and the specialized development of the services sector, Catalonia has become one of the most important economic enclaves in southern Europe, playing a decisive role.
Its important tourist and transport infrastructures, the spectacular investment in research and development, and the commitment to teaching facilities, are some of the axes that significantly boost the socio-economic reality of Catalonia.
Waste Agency of Catalunya
The Waste Agency of Catalonia is an entity of public law responsible for managing the waste generated throughout Catalonia. In order to improve the quality of life for citizens in Catalonia and to protect the environment, the main objectives of the Agència de Residus de Catalunya are:
- to boost circular economy
- to promote the minimisation of waste and their danger
- to nurture selective waste collection
- waste evaluation
- refuse disposal
- the recovery of spaces and soils deteriorated by the uncontrolled unloading of waste or by pollutants
Agriculture & Food
The agri-food is the principal sector of the Catalan industry with an overall turnover of 38,205 M€ and 164,372 employees. There are four differentiated food and drinks hubs in Catalonia with food and drinks industry companies at all different levels of the value chain. Robust public private partnership supporting Catalan food and drinks ecosystem with fourteen clusters associations across the region Catalonia, top destination for food and drinks companies
Catalonia counts on top research centres devoted to technological innovation in food processing, to the improvement of eating habits and to food security evaluation. More than 1,500 startups are located in Catalonia.
Specific infrastructures and services, such as the Mercabarna wholesale market, Barcelona’s Port and Airport, Tarragona’s airport are working together to consolidate Barcelona as a key hub for fresh produce from Europe and the Mediterranean.
Some key agriculture and food figures in Catalonia are:
- Primary sector: 4,690 M€ turnover; 57,423 agricultural holdings; 55,022 employees
- Food and drinks industry: 27,940 M€ turnover; 3,922 companies; 88,032 employees
- Auxiliary industry: 5,575 M€ turnover; 436 companies; 21,318 employees
Food Losses and Waste
Catalonia began working on the prevention of food waste more than 10 years ago, coinciding with the warning expressed by the FAO and also denounced by other institutions, organizations and activists around the world.
From the field of organic waste prevention, a process of awareness-raising, learning and action was led by the Waste Agency. It grouped many different agents in a transversal way coming from very different but complementary fields: waste prevention, health, food value chain; social area, etc.
Prevention of food losses and waste is a long road that often questions food production and consumption systems and calls for changes in the way all agents in the food chain operate. Cooperation is very much needed. And moving forward step by step is important to achieving the goals we have committed ourselves like the SDGs and the European Union objectives.
We present below the main steps token in Catalonia in these 10 years:
Law 3/2020, of 11 March, on Food Loss and Wastage Prevention which seeks to prevent FLW by forcing food chain agents to quantify FLW and to have improvement plans and to promote various incentive measures. The Government is also obliged to draw up a Strategic Plan to deal with this important issue.
The first diagnosis focused on the retail, catering and household sector was published in 2012. It allowed to measure a waste of 35 kg/person per year in this part of the food chain. Subsequently, various sectoral diagnoses have been made on the production and wholesale of peach, nectarine, pear, apple, citrus and vegetable products.
As part of the Interreg Europe Ecowaste4food project, Catalonia launched in 2019 its first action plan to prevent food losses and waste. It was attended by 45 stakeholders from the territory and included 145 projects in the areas of knowledge, awareness, prevention, use of surpluses, governance and regulation.
One of the most important actions of these years has been the creation and maintenance of a communication campaign aimed at the general population to raise awareness about the prevention of household food waste. With the name of ‘We are food wise’ the campaign encourages people to learn about food, cooking and food waste prevention to improve the situation at home. It includes as well workshops and other for schools and families.
Guides and supporting documents for food chain agents:
Several guides have been published by the Government of Catalonia to give companies tools for the prevention of food losses and food waste:
- Implementation of a food loss and waste prevention and reduction plan in agri-food companies: principles and guidelines;
- Guide to the integration of loss prevention and the waste food in environmental management systems
- Guidelines for safe gleaning;
- Guide to good hygiene practices for the safe use of food in food donation;
Interest in joining FOODRUS
The main interests of Catalonia to join FoodRUs project and to become a FoodRUs Associated regions are to:
- exchange knowledge and experience in food waste prevention with other regions and stakeholders along Europe;
- learn about new methodologies and solutions to better prevent food waste along the food value chain;
- continue working with the Catalan food waste committee of stakeholders and to give them the opportunity of going further in their prevention activities and to get involved in the project.