600,000 packages have so far been recycled under the project. Photograph: DuPont
The Virtuous Circle
The world’s population is growing at a steady pace – and so is the need for sufficient food. However, joint projects against food waste and losses can find followers very quickly. This has been borne out by the SAVE FOOD initiative, created by the FAO, UNEP and Messe Düsseldorf, and now also by the Virtuous Cycle project. Within just over six months this association of international companies has supplied preschool and primary school children in various disadvantaged parts of South Africa with about one million packaged and environment-friendly ready meals. Moreover, quite a few school desks were produced as well.
The Virtuous Circle project turns packaging and sawdust into desks and chairs. Photograph: DuPont
South African packaging project has been a great success
The initiators of Virtuous Circle decided to run this pilot project in South Africa. According to UN estimates for 2011, around 12 million children were living in poverty in this country on the southern tip of the continent – about two thirds of all under-18s. Parents cannot afford enough food for their families, and neither can they pay the mandatory school fees. Although a national school nutrition programme is in place, aiming to provide each child with one meal per day, this is still far from adequate. Virtuous Circle has brought some very promising relief.
Headed by the US chemical group DuPont, which is also a member of the SAVE FOOD Initiative, partners from a variety of industrial sectors and social enterprises agreed to cooperate. 27 primary and preschools and also an orphanage took part in the project. The initial results, which were presented at the innovationparc at interpack 2017, give rise to hope: All three pillars of this special nutrition programme have been successful:
Feeding pillar – providing schoolchildren from poor backgrounds with packaged ready meals while at the same time reducing food waste,
Recycling pillar – using multilayered food bags as material for desks and other valuable furniture and accessories, thanks to innovative technologies,
Education pillar – raising awareness among students and teachers on the importance of recycling and on ways to turn so-called waste into everyday objects.
One pillar of the Virtuous Circle project is about raising awareness among students on ways to recycle and reuse packaging. Photograph: DuPont
Nutritious ready meals
Futurelife has already made a name for itself as a manufacturer of nutritious ready meals, and now it produces special dual-compartment bags for the project. The two side-by-side compartments contain dried, pulverised food in one section and water in the other. A simple squeeze of the centre of the bag releases an inner lock, mixing the two elements and creating a simple ready meal. High-quality processing ensures that no nutrients are lost. The innovative packaging has proved to be particularly handy if there is a lack of
Packaging is turned into desks
As well as suffering food shortages, South African schools are short of around 3 million desks. Under the project it is the school kids themselves who collect the packaging waste, which is then placed in a reprocessing plant, adding sawdust, and is turned into desks and other objects that benefit the local community.
The two side-by-side compartments contain dried, pulverised food in one section and water in the other. A simple squeeze of the centre of the bag releases an inner lock, mixing the two elements and creating a simple ready meal. Photograph: DuPont
Further positive effects
The partnerships also serve a range of further aspects. The combination of nutritious food, smart packaging and reasonable recycling helps to encourage greater responsibility among consumers and manufacturers, as it gives them an interest in creating a sustainable economic cycle.
Students and teachers learn about the importance of making good use of food.
Students are more attentive and concentrate better during lessons.
Students turn up on time, and schools experience rising numbers of enrolment.