Mercabarna and its associated businesses are committed to reducing to a minimum the amount of waste from excess food left over every day in the market, which at present stands at 0.5% of total sales.
The fact is food should not become a waste product. This is the principal aim of Mercabarna's "Strategic Plan for Food Use", which establishes the courses of action it will take to reduce food waste, improve waste treatment and promote responsible consumption.
The project kicked off with the signing of the "Manifesto for the reduction of food waste" by Mercabarna, the concessionary business association (Assocome) and the main wholesale syndicates for fruit and vegetables (AGEM) and fish (GMP). The agreement sets out the grounds for this endeavour and expresses what is, in the words of Montserrat Ballarín, President of Mercabarna, and a clear commitment to "handling food more efficiently and making the supply chain more sustainable and responsible".
Diagnosis of the situation
This plan draws on the study carried out by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the company Spora Synergies and the platform Aprofitem els Aliments, which calculates that in Mercabarna 0.5% of the 2 million tons of food sold every year is wasted. Even though this figure is well below that of other markets, shopping centres and homes, it still means that 9,400 tons of food does not reach the consumer.
Action plan to reduce waste
Mercabarna is aware of the social, financial and environmental implications of this situation, and is designing a new waste treatment system for the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which will start as a pilot scheme in early 2017. The work currently under way to modernize this market includes insulating the point-of-sale areas as a means of creating better condition for preserving fresh produce.
In addition, a Centre for Food Use is being set up in order to optimize the selection of food fit for sale and to enable its distribution among the social organizations that work to help people with few resources. Finally, there will also be environmental education campaigns to raise awareness among market wholesalers and employees, and the 6,000 children who visit Mercabarna every year as part of the "5 a day" campaign.