Neighbourhood Hubs against food waste win the Earthshot Prize

Dedicated to environmental protection actions, Milan’s anti-food waste project won £1 million and support from the Royal Foundation for the next few years.

 

Milan, 18 October 2021 – On the night of Sunday, 17 October 2021, Prince William announced that the City of Milan, with its Neighbourhood Hubs Food Policy project against food waste, is the winner of the first prestigious international Earthshot Prize for the best solutions to protect the environment.

A month ago it was announced that Milan was one of the 15 finalists in the “a world without waste” section, and yesterday, live on the BBC and Discovery Channel, Prince William unveiled the winners after an international panel of experts selected Milan from 750 candidate initiatives from around the world.

Along with Milan in the other four categories of the award were winners from the Republic of Costa Rica for the protection of forests, India for the reduction of smoke emissions into the air, Berlin for the development of hydrogen technologies for energy production, and the Bahamas for the protection of coral reefs.

In Milan, the BBC arranged a link to London from a terrace overlooking the Duomo, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Anna Scavuzzo, with representatives of all the partners who bring this project to life.

The £1 million prize will be used to further develop these hubs and open new ones, ensuring their long-term sustainability and replicating this excellent practice in the network of cities working with Milan on food policy, starting with the network of C40 cities and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

Winning the Earthshot prize is the recognition of a great team effort that has involved the entire city: thanks to the City Council and many organisations from the third sector, universities, large-scale retail trade and philanthropy operating in the area, Milan now has 3 neighbourhood hubs at Isola (2019), Lambrate (2020) and Gallaratese (2021).

The project was born in 2017 as a result of an alliance between the City of Milan, Politecnico di Milano (with the research group of the Food Sustainability Lab, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering) Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo and the QuBì Programme.
The creation of the first Hub then brought in Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and saved over 10 tonnes of food per month, ensuring a stream of 260,000 equivalent meals in one year, reaching 3,800 people, thanks to the contribution of 20 supermarkets, 4 business canteens and 24 Third Sector organisations.

In particular, the Food Sustainability Observatory conducted a network feasibility study and monitored the hubs’ operation and the impact generated by the project, thus making it possible to build an extensible logistic model replicable in other areas of the city.

Indeed, this was followed by the launch of the Hub in Lambrate, immediately after the first lockdown in spring 2020, also managed by Banco Alimentare della Lombardia in a space made available by AVIS Milano and with the support of BCC Milano. The third Hub, at Gallaratese, is managed by Terre des Hommes with the support of the Fondazione Milan.

Another one, currently in the planning stage, will be the neighbourhood Hub in Corvetto, managed by the Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and with the support of the Fondazione SNAM; while the City of Milan has recently started the co-design process for the Hub in the city centre with Associazione IBVA and the support of BCC Milano.

 

The team of the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering:
Alessandro Perego, Marco Melacini, Giulia Bartezzaghi, Annalaura Silvestro and Andrea Rizzuni from the Food Sustainability research group.

Partners involved:
The project involves major retailers including Lidl Italia, Esselunga, Carrefour, NaturaSi, Erbert, Coop Lombardia, Il Gigante, Bennet, Penny Market with the support of Number1 Logistics Group who provided the vans for the Isola and Lambrate hubs. Also involved were the canteens of Pirelli, Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Maire Tecnimont, coordinated by Gruppo Pellegrini for the Isola Hub.
With Fondazione Cariplo and SogeMi, the City of Milan has also launched the Foody zero waste initiative to replicate the hub model at Ortomercato and recover fresh food together with Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, Recup, Croce rossa sud milanese, Università degli studi di Milano and many other supporting partners.

Food Waste Hubs among the Earthshot Prize finalists

The Milanese project against food waste is one of the 3 finalists of the prize promoting environmental protection measures, in the category “Build a Waste Free World”

 

On 17 September, Prince William announced that the City of Milan Food Waste Hubs have made it into the shortlist of 15 finalists of the inaugural year of the Earthshot Prize, the prestigious international award for the best environmental protection solutions.

In particular, Milan will be vying for the prize in the category “Build a Waste Free World” alongside another two projects: one for the conversion of waste into safe agricultural inputs (Kenya) and one involving a water treatment system that turns 98% of water waste into clean fresh water (Japan). Food Waste Hubs was selected from among 750 projects submitted worldwide.

Making it into the shortlist of Earthshot Prize finalists confirms the great teamwork demonstrated by the city of Milan. Through the work of the City Council and many local, private and third-sector companies, today Milan has 3 hubs in the districts of Isola (2019), Lambrate (2020) and Gallaratese (2021).

The project stems from a partnership, established in 2016, between the Milan City Council, the Politecnico di Milano, Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo and the QuBì Programme.

In particular, the Politecnico di Milano School of Management conducted a network feasibility study and monitored the hubs’ operation and the impact generated by the project, thus making it possible to build an extensible logistic model replicable in other areas of the city.

The project also involves major mass retailers, including Lidl Italia, Esselunga, Carrefour, NaturaSi, Erbert, Coop Lombardia, Il Gigante, Bennet and Penny Market. Moreover, in collaboration with Fondazione Cariplo and SogeMi, the Milan City Council has also launched the “Foody Zero Waste” initiative to replicate the hub model at Ortomercato, Milan’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market, and recover fresh food alongside Banco Alimenare della Lombardia, Recup, the Southern Milanese Red Cross, the University of Milan and many other supporting partners.

The winners will be announced in late October.

For more information:
Food Policy Press Release
Finalists announcement

Fighting food waste: the success of the neighbourhood Hubs for recovery and support for the most vulnerable

On the National Day for the Prevention of Food Waste on 5 February 2021, the data monitoring carried out by the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano shows that, thanks to the Isola and Lambrate Hubs, more than 3,300 families have been reached with 152,000 meals

 

The surplus collection target for 2020 is 76 tonnes: 62 were gathered between January and February and between June and December in via Borsieri and 14 in the newly opened Hub in via Bassini.

The idea of the neighbourhood Hubs stems from the “ZeroSprechi” memorandum of understanding between the City of Milan, Assolombarda and the School of Management at the Politecnico di Milano, signed in 2016. One of the priorities of Milan’s Food Policy is to reduce food waste and innovate ways of collecting food for the needy by designing and testing a model for collecting and redistributing surplus food based on local neighbourhood networks.

This project, as Giovanni Fosti explains, “is made possible by the presence of networks in the area such as the Qubi Programme – Fondazione Cariplo’s formula against child poverty”.

As Anna Scavuzzo, the deputy mayor of Milan in charge of Food Policy, affirms, “this action has allowed us to continue to work towards the goals of sustainability, but also of the right to healthy food”. The commitment to fighting waste will lead to the opening of two more neighbourhood hubs in the Corvetto and Gallaratese areas next summer.

Even in the face of the difficulties of the time” – according to Alessandro Perego, Director of the Department of Management Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano – “the results of the first Hub in Isola and the recent Hub in Lambrate have demonstrated the sustainability of a model that is based on structured operational processes and solid cross-sector collaboration. Hubs are also a central point in the social network of a neighbourhood. We will continue to work closely with contributing companies and all project partners to ensure the continuity and replicability of the system in other areas of the city.”

As Alessandro Scarabelli, General Manager of Assolombarda, puts it, “the crisis caused by Covid has severely affected the finances of many families, unfortunately worsening the conditions of those who were already struggling to find essential supplies. For this reason, the opening of two new hubs is even more significant for the social resilience of the city. The important results achieved are a clear sign of how important it is to team up and strengthen our commitment to build a model of collecting the surplus and redistributing them in support of the most vulnerable people”.

 

Project partners: City of Milan, Politecnico di Milano School of Management, Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo, Banco Alimentare.

Milan’s Local Food Hub against food waste: more than 150,000 meals recovered for a total of 77 tonnes of food

Last 14th January, the local Food Hub located at Via Borsieri 2 in Milan (District 9) celebrated its first birthday and an incredible success: 77 tonnes of food, the equivalent of 154,000 meals, were saved from going to landfill in its first year, with 21 non-profit organisations, 11 supermarkets and 5 company canteens involved in the initiative.
And a new Food Hub in District 3 is ready to open its doors.

The Deputy Mayor in charge of Food Policy, Anna Scavuzzo, said: “This has been a great success for the Via Borsieri Hub – it has laid the foundations for other districts. The figures show that if everyone involved works towards a common goal, it is possible to create an effective and supportive network capable of meeting the needs of a big city like Milan. With the participation of two important new players, AVIS Comunale di Milano and Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Milano, we are now ready to open another Hub in District 3.”

In 2015, Milan introduced a new Food Policy to pioneer a more sustainable food system throughout the city, introducing a multidisciplinary and participative approach under which city authorities act as drivers and enablers. A top priority in this food policy is to reduce food waste, and the best way to achieve that goal was to bring local players on board, namely the city’s research centres, institutions, private sector, foundations and social actors.

To translate this priority into concrete action, in 2016 the City of Milan, Assolombarda (the Lombardy section of the Italian Entrepreneurial Association) and the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano signed a memorandum of understanding, entitled “Zero Waste”, drawn up to reduce food waste and implement a new method for recovering and redistributing surplus food which would then be donated to people in need.

The design and experimentation of such a model aimed at collecting and redistributing unsold products or unserved cooked meals was built around local networks of supermarkets, corporate canteens and non-profit food-aid organisations. It gave rise to the first district Food Hub promoted by the City of Milan, Assolombarda, the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, in partnership with Banco Alimentare Lombardia (Lombardy Food Bank) and supported by the “QuBì Programme – The recipe against child poverty”, promoted by Fondazione Cariplo with the support of Fondazione Vismara, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, Fondazione Romeo ed Enrica Invernizzi, Fondazione Fiera Milano and Fondazione Snam.

The School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano conducted a feasibility study of the model and has been in charge of monitoring operations at the hub and for the whole system whilst measuring the impact of the project over a 12-month period, building a logistical model that now is being scaled up and replicated in other areas of the city.

All district Hubs will provide practical answers to the demand for city-wide food waste reduction and access to food by those in need, ensuring a small-scale food collection and redistribution service.
The Via Borsieri Hub donated 77 tonnes of food – equivalent to about 154,000 meals – with an economic value of €308,000, reaching the levels predicted by the Politecnico di Milano in its model. Over the course of the year, the number of social players benefitting from the service, i.e. non-profit organisations, increased from 14 to 21.

“I am very pleased to have contributed to a systemic solution which addresses the salvage of small and scattered surpluses of food, which are the most difficult to manage,” said Alessandro Perego, Director of the Department of Management Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.These projects are an important lesson in mutual support for individuals and the community as a whole. Something that we seriously need at this time, when the risks of increasing social inequality and marginalisation are high.”

Banco Alimentare Director Marco Magnelli said: “One year later, the results of a projects that functions from the perspectives of logistics, hygiene, and health and safety, promoted and coordinated by Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, confirmed that it is a successful response to the region’s food needs. This was made possible due to the partnership between public, for-profit, non-profit and university institutions.”

The companies associated with Assolombarda which are involved in the project have participated through their canteens by donating surplus food, thus helping to reduce waste. In addition, large-scale retailers provide different types of food on a daily basis which passes through the Hub and is redistributed to the various parties; eleven supermarkets and five company canteens are part of the initiative.

Assolombarda General Manager Alessandro Scarabelli said: “The ‘stronger together’ approach is key to the success of the via Borsieri district Hub and the opening of the new District 3 Hub. A goal that we are proud of, one which was made possible due to the contributions of our companies, which played an active role in reducing food waste and promoting an effective and replicable model. The results of the initiative encourage us to bolster our commitment to this issue, with the aim of spreading good practices and a culture of waste reduction for a greater degree of sustainability and responsibility throughout the region.”

In 2020, the next important innovation to come is the opening of an additional Hub in District 3, in the Lambrate area. This will involve the participation of AVIS Milano (a Blood Donors Association) and Banca di Credito Cooperativo (BCC), the winner of the recent public call for tender announced by the City of Milan to collect the necessary resources to set up new Hubs across the city.

BCC President Giuseppe Maino said: “We are aware of the urgent need to strengthen this network throughout Milan, so that it is capable of fighting food poverty and waste. We decided to support the project, because we share its objectives and values. We are proud of our members who decided to donate an amount equivalent to their usual Christmas bonus from the bank to the Hub construction project. We have long been committed to developing a positive-action network with the Metropolitan City’s most important associations and institutions to support and strengthen these regional efforts.”

Avis Milano General Manager Sergio Casartelli said: “Avis Milano submitted its application for the District Hubs’ call for tender because it is in line with our objectives. We will contribute to this important project for the city by providing our spaces in District 3, and join the network of players involved in the fight against food waste in Milan.”