The link between food procurement and sustainable forestry
Food consumption in the European Union is responsible for significant levels of deforestation, according to a recent report by the forestry organisation FERN. The link between food and forests is often overlooked but is of considerable importance, with more than 70 percent of deforestation in the tropics resulting from land being cleared for commercial agriculture. The EU consumes more than 30 percent of crops and livestock products grown on this land – twice that of Japan and China combined.
Drawing on the successful experiences of national governments in implementing sustainable timber policies, the report shows how government purchasing can have an important leveraging effect on the broader market. It puts forward five main commodities (palm oil, beef, cocoa, coffee and tea) to which sustainable procurement criteria could potentially be applied. These products are covered by certification schemes, have a clear link with deforestation and are imported in large quantities into the EU.
The report concludes, “Public procurement can have a significant impact on the overall direction of the market. Palm oil, beef, cocoa, coffee and tea are all commodities to which public procurement policy could potentially be applied.” It provides clear recommendations, both for the European Commission and Member States, to ensure that public procurement of food has a positive impact on sustainable forestry.
Could rooftop gardens be the key to urban self-sufficiency?
Rooftop gardens have the potential to produce significant levels of fresh fruit and vegetables, giving urban populations access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. As well as providing fresh food, such gardens also help to increase biodiversity, filter polluted air, absorb excess carbon dioxide and decrease inner city temperatures.
These claims come from a recent study into rooftop agriculture, which has been taking place in Bologna (Italy) since 2010. Three different growing systems were trialled by participants: plastic pipes, recycled pallets filled with compost, and polystyrene panels floating in tanks (also made from recycled pallets). A variety of produce was grown, including lettuce, black cabbage, chicory, tomato, aubergine and melons.
Using results from the initial trials, gardeners designed a growing system incorporating the best results from each of the different technologies. The system was designed for a 2016m² rooftop garden and is calculated to be able to produce three tones of vegetables per year. Digital maps and computer-aided design software helped researchers identify 0.82km² of unused flat spaces on Bologna’s roofs and terraces. If all this space was used for gardening, Bologna could produce around 12,500 tonnes of vegetables on its rooftops alone.
Three suppliers have been chosen for the first tenders launched within the INNOCAT project. The two tenders were launched by project partner Resah-idf, the network for hospital procurers in the Paris region of France. Awarded in the form of framework contracts, the agreements are available for use by all French healthcare organisations.
The first tender consisted of two lots: recyclable food containers including the recycling service, and biodegradable dishes. Following a period of quality testing to ensure the proposed solutions met the required EN13432 standard, the two lots were awarded respectively to the manufacturers Rescaset and FIRPLAST. The second tender, for a consulting service to reorganise the logistics of sorting organic from non-organic waste, was awarded to the agricultural and food company Saria.
A second eco-innovative catering tender for energy efficient vending machines at the University of Sheffield is currently underway, following a period of intensive market engagement