Milan creates a model for ending food waste and hunger

If you want to feel inspired this weekend, I recommend that you have a look at the amazing projects that have been chosen as finalists in the Earthshots Prize 2021 competition.

The one that I was most taken with is how the City of Milan has created a model for organizing something that is happening, mostly voluntarily, in many cities around the world – collecting food that otherwise would be wasted, and provide it to those who need it but can’t afford it.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Launched in 2019 with the goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030, the City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs recover food mainly from supermarkets and companies’ canteens and give it to NGOs who distribute it to the neediest citizens.

“Milan is the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses,” says the Earthshot website. “And it is working. Today the city has three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350 kg per day, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent.”

Milan’s blueprint can be scaled throughout the world, says Earthshot.

In many cities, NGOs and food banks do work with grocery stores and supermarket chains to collect food that would be otherwise discarded, adding unnecessarily to our landfill sites, and distribute it to those who need it. What is different about Milan’s approach is that it has created a policy, and the infrastructure to support it. Well done, Milan.

The great thing about the Earthshot Prize is that whether Milan wins the prize in the category of “Building a waste-free world” or not, its nomination helps ensure that news of its innovative model gets much larger global attention and may inspire other cities to do the same.


And it’s spreading: New York Food Waste Recycling Law Goes Into Effect, Ecowatch, Jan. 14, 2022

Further Reading:

For more about how Milan created its model, have a look at Milan Is Winning the Fight Against Food Waste, Reason to be Cheerful’s deep dive, Nov.5, 2021.