A large part of the current food system is linear: a one-way nutrient flow, powered by fossil energy, that leads to carbon emissions, pollution, degraded land, and other negative impacts. Every year, USD 1 trillion worth of food is wasted across the globe; our cities throw away 600 million tonnes of organic materials annually. The scale, complexity, and multitude of challenges associated with the global food system has earned it the label ‘the mother of all systemic problems’.

It is widely agreed that we need to rethink our approach to food production and consumption if we want a more regenerative, effective global food system. Transitioning to a more circular food system will help address many of today’s issues. By redesigning urban food systems - based on the principles of a circular economy - we can facilitate the closing of nutrient loops from cities back to food growing areas. Localised production, food innovation, new value streams, and other circular interventions, could have a significant social impact by reconnecting citizens with food, creating jobs, and inducing potential health benefits.

Making the transition towards a circular economy for food in cities, will require food brands, innovators, farmers, waste processors, digital enablers, investors, academics, municipalities, chefs, key influencers, and other stakeholders in the food system and wider bioeconomy to collaborate in new ways.

About the Initiative

The Cities and Circular Economy for Food initiative brings together a diverse group of food system actors to design a regenerative urban food system, based on the principles of a circular economy. Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it aims to create benefits across business, society, and the environment, and to build momentum towards a global food system fit for the 21st century. By transitioning to a more circular food system, Cities and Circular Economy for Food aims to unlock an economic opportunity, while making a contribution to addressing some of the challenges of the current food system.

The systemic initiative is supported by Intesa Sanpaolo, and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center as Lead Partner, Danone, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Suez, Tetra Pak, and Veolia as Core Partners, and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, players of People’s Postcode Lottery (GB), and Porticus as Philanthropic Partners.


Urban Biocycles



Cities and the CE for Food

Scoping Document



To get in touch with the Cities and Circular Economy for Food team, please contact: citiesandfood@ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

With the support of:

Lead Partner

Core Partners

Philanthropic Partners