Contact: Toine Timmermans                           Phone +31 317 481524                         Email:

Coordinator REFRESH & Program manager sustainable food chains

Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research

WHERE: Europe (12 countries) and China

WHEN: 2015-2019


TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, awareness raising & Voluntary agreement

WASTE STREAMS: Agricultural waste, Food and organic waste, Animal by-products


About: “Resource Efficient Food and drink for the Entire Supply chain” (REFRESH) is an EU research project taking action against food waste. The overall aim of the REFRESH project is to work towards the project’s goal to contribute towards Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, reducing waste management costs, and maximizing the value from un-avoidable food waste and packaging materials. REFRESH focuses on the reduction of avoidable waste and improved valorization of food resources. Backed by research, to better understand the drivers of food waste, the project supports better decision-making by industry and individual consumers. Also, it provides guidance to legislators and policy makers to help support effective governance to tackle food waste.

Refresh Community of Experts: online platform to find and share information and best practice on food waste prevention

Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 Infoweek including high-level policy events

1. Develop strategic agreements to reduce food waste with governments, business and local stakeholders in 4 pilot countries (Spain, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands). A call for pilots is intended to be issued for the business community and other stakeholders, to participate in testing new approaches to reduce food waste and replicate these approaches into other countries.
2. Formulate EU policy recommendations and support national implementation of food waste policy frameworks.
3. Design and develop technological innovations to improve valorization of food waste, e.g. from food processing, and ICT-based platforms and tools to support new and existing solutions to reduce food waste


Knowhow: the project consortium is formed by an extended interdisciplinary team that has in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge and a proven track record of working together effectively in national and cross-border research projects.
Funding; budget: REFRESH project and is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of EU, Project reference (ID): 641933
Total budget: EUR 9.444.757,79 (out of which EU contribution EUR 8.999.757,79)


Scientific papers:

Scientific reports:

Urban metabolism relevance

REFRESH uses behavioral economics approaches in studying the behavioral dynamics of consumers and businesses. It can help in designing better-framed policy and market interventions to prevent and reduce food waste. It uses a holistic approach on economic and behavioral aspects and extended quantitative research to understand and to improve the food waste prevention targeted solutions. It is fully relevant to urban metabolism approach and offers an extended use of tools for decision making process at the EU level, as well as at the local one. It takes into account the consumer, as well as retail chains, giving it a broad and complex approach for the food chain – from supply to waste prevention.

The project provides guidance for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC), focused on prevention, valorization and treatment of side flows from the food supply chain: the food supply chain produces food side flows, which are material flows of inedible and edible parts from the main product being produced. These flows have the common attribute “the less the better”.

New valorization routes for side flows will have monetary and environmental impacts. It also looks into the valorization of waste streams and co-products: the project aims to increase the exploitation of unavoidable food chain waste. To do this, it aims to provide support to business stakeholders to identify waste streams that are appropriate to valorize. The project has evaluated the top 20 EU food waste streams having significant environmental impact. Thirty-seven priority waste streams were further reviewed to identify the top streams for modeling and detailed research with regards to valorization. Sustainable solutions as moving to more sustainable diets, reducing food waste both in and out of the home is the most significant demand-side measure for reducing the carbon impact of the food system.

Engaged participatory processes

The project consortium brings together stakeholders from academia, civil society, and business. They collaboratively develop approaches to research and innovation processes within the project.
The national platforms represent the main participatory process. They engage business, civil society, and government stakeholders in voluntary agreements on food waste in four pilot countries, and implement pilot projects in practice.

REFRESH project also launched an online platform – the REFRESH Community of Experts. It is an Online Network for Knowledge and Best Practice on Food Waste Prevention, for experts to share and gain knowledge on food waste reduction, prevention, and valorisation created by REFRESH.

REFRESH Food Waste Solution Contest – launched in 2016, called on food waste innovators to submit their projects and ideas. The objective of the contest was to bring much-deserved recognition to these ideas and encourage their spread. Contest submissions were made by individuals, organizations, start-ups and large companies


The project takes an innovative, systemic and holistic approach. REFRESH builds on and goes beyond existing initiatives to develop, evaluate, and ensure the spread of social, technological, and organizational insights and practices related to food waste. Concrete innovation are developed to valorize food side streams and unavoidable food waste, and innovative pilot projects are implemented in the four national platforms.

Sustainability and replicability

Guidance for research on consumer food waste and food waste quantification, and on life-cycle assessment and life-cycle costing is published to encourage uptake of the methodology by other researchers.

The selection process and progress of the four national platforms were published, which identified success factors important for replicating the voluntary agreement approach. A Blueprint for replicating voluntary agreements will be published by mid-2019, aimed at providing guidance to countries that want to set up multi-stakeholder voluntary agreements.

Success Factors

The Project offers the necessary tools for replication, to discuss and to promote best practices in the food waste prevention in the framework of SDG 12.3.

Success factors for voluntary agreements are identified in a report on establishing REFRESH’s four national platforms.

Waste, Resources, Innovation.
Key challenges

The Project targets a wide variety of challenges related to food waste, including policy frameworks, food waste as animal feed, food waste valorization, consumer behavior, retailer and business action, and more.


For more information, please check the deliverable, or contact the implementing body.

Click on the green icon on the left side of the page to print and download this Best Practice as PDF.

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