The director of the UNESCO Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF course and observer of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP25, Pere Fullana i Palmer, participated in the Round Table on Circular Economy organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This meeting sought to highlight concrete examples of actions to implement circular economy principles, business models that reduce or eliminate waste through value chains, and their contribution to achieving the objectives set by the Paris Agreement.
The Roundtable was also framed in the context of limiting global warming to 1.5° C, in accordance with the conclusions outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as the planetary boundaries highlighted through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, "a third of all the food produced for human consumption is wasted, which is equivalent to the loss of a billion dollars. In addition, this results in more than 4.4 Gt of CO2 emissions each year. In fact, if the food lost and the waste generated were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China."
This serious threat to the economy and the environment is due to a series of problems along the supply chain, including the packaging phase. Therefore, packaging can help reduce food loss, as this phase is vital to protect the food during transport, provide comfort and adequate portion sizes to consumers, and prolong the shelf life of some products before they arrive to the final consumer, the organizers noted.
Companies, governments, scientists, and civil society should work together to find the right balance between minimizing food loss and minimizing packaging waste through effective packaging solutions.
In this sense, Pere Fullana called for more intelligent use and management of plastics. Even though plastic waste is a major problem that affects landfills and oceans around the world, when used correctly and carefully, plastic can offer some benefits that other materials cannot offer, such as weight reduction, saving energy, endurance, and durability, among others.
Finally, Fullana i Palmer also spoke about the need to change our diet and food systems so that they are more nutritious and environmentally sustainable.