Reducing waste and increasing value

The Source Shakers: European platform for food waste solutions

The Source Shakers help companies in the food supply chain in reducing food waste by a minimum of 25 percent and in using their residual waste streams in such a way as to create at least 20 percent more value. The Source Shakers is a collaborative platform for businesses, students, startups and scientists to collectively increase the impact of existing and new solutions to fight food waste.

Alain Cracau of Rabobank’s Sustainable Business Development division: "We believe that a concerted effort in terms of sharing knowledge, experience and facilities is the best way to promote high-impact, sustainable solutions. Food waste is an important issue for us and we believe all raw materials are valuable. That's why we are a co-initiator of The Source Shakers, a platform for food waste solutions. The platform involves an integration of knowledge, experience, facilities, energy and inspiration in order to speed up the process of creating large-scale solutions to a large group of companies."

There’s money to be made from waste

With a staggering one-third of all food worldwide going to waste as a result of lack of knowledge and inadequate handling, transport or storage, those solutions are needed now more than ever. In the Netherlands alone, these inadequate practices cause a total of 5 billion euros to be squandered annually – and that is not even including the related carbon emissions and depletion of natural resources resulting from this waste. Rabobank aims to contribute to creating solutions that enable businesses to derive maximum value from natural resources and has, partly on the initiative of Rabobank Uden-Veghel, partnered with Wageningen University, HAS University of Applied Sciences, FoodSquad, project bureau p2, the Brabant Development Company (Brabant Ontwikkelings Maatschappij – BOM) and the municipality of Veghel to achieve this objective. Alain Cracau: "Another example of connections that evolve from cooperation on both local and central levels."

The cost of waste

Food waste generates massive expenses for both consumers and businesses. Rabobank research shows that in Europe alone, consumers throw out 30 billion euros worth of food a year, while another 60 billion euros is wasted during food production and distribution. If businesses – ranging from farmers and horticulturists to supermarkets and food service companies, many of which are served by Rabobank – manage to reduce their food waste, they will inevitably see their profits rise.

‘Food to food’

The Source Shakers aims to add as much value as possible to residual waste streams during the food process – that is, to maximise their economic value.
Food-to-food solutions are the primary basis in this respect. Alain Cracau on the importance of circular enterprise: "Food waste is a social issue that comes at an economic and environmental cost. Adopting a circular approach and a circular business model provides the solutions we need. We have set up a number of circular enterprise programmes together with our customers and we have found that a growing number of questions and opportunities are being identified relating to residual waste streams and waste. Circular enterprise deserves a practical application more than ever. Although there are conceptual models, there’s still a lack of concrete products and business models available. The Verspillingsfabriek (The Waste Factory), which creates new products to increase the value of residual waste streams, is a notable exception. We also feel The Source Shakers has an important role to play in driving change and serving as an example and source of information for the numerous businesses operating in the food and agricultural industry. Rabobank can demonstrate in various ways that it is actually helping businesses towards sustainable development. We do this by building a community together with customers and partners and by creating a physical space for this community. We can use this space to give seminars on the circular economy to businesses, students and stakeholders, as well as for hosting conferences, networking events, a business academy, and so on. Our initiative will help companies to reduce their risk – for example, relating to the supply of raw materials and in terms of their reputation – and to take more advantage of opportunities such as improving profits and developing new revenue models."

"The Source Shakers work closely together with businesses to complete a process in which the value of what was once classified as useless is demonstrated. Our partner businesses learn to think in terms of loops instead of on a strictly linear level: how can I reuse what remains during the production process? Or, even better: how can I start thinking about the value of the product and the raw materials before it is even produced? We refer to this type of approach as 'circular enterprise'. The idea is to teach businesses to adopt this new approach."

"Reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030."

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal

Food waste and ethics

Food waste also touches on the wider issues of sustainability and ethics. Can we, in all conscience, throw out food when millions of people around the world are undernourished? Is it acceptable to waste nutrients, ingredients and water when these natural resources are becoming scarcer and are sorely needed in order to feed more than nine billion people by 2050? Is it all right for carbon emissions to be generated in the manufacture of a product, only for that product to be thrown away afterwards? And how do we feel about throwing out food which people made an effort to produce? So reducing food waste is important for our planet and its inhabitants. Under the ‘Banking for Food’ banner, Rabobank wants to help its customers make a contribution.

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