The GRA-IRG Circular Food Systems network aims to develop an active international network of researchers in the field of circular food systems, where knowledge can be shared and collaboration between research groups can increase the development and implementation of circularity withing the agri-food system.

In circular food systems losses of raw materials in the production of biomass are kept to a minimum by pursuing a closed-loop in which all produced biomass is utilised to a maximum extent. It is a whole-system approach that looks at the individual parts of the food system as elements of an integrated entity. Such a food system approach is more than the sum of its parts as interaction between the different parts of the food system results in additional resource efficiency.

Circular Food Systems (CFS) may contribute to increased food security and reduction of GHG emissions by increasing the resource security (use of waste streams reduces need for inputs e.g. land, water, fossil energy and nitrogen and phosphorus as mineral fertilizer), and by mitigating the net greenhouse effect of emissions from CO2, N2O and CH4 during the different stages of the food systems both via direct mitigation interventions such as reduction of methane emissions and indirect mitigation interventions such as through additional carbon sequestration in soils and biomass. The benefits resulting from circular food systems go beyond mitigation of GHG-emissions and food security, but may also include  increased biodiversity, and development of opportunities for ecosystem services.

Objectives of the network

The objectives of the network are:

  • To contribute to food security with mitigation of GHG emissions by circularity across the entire agri-food system
  • Bring together, develop and disseminate knowledge about the concept of circularity in food system across the world, and how it can contribute to GHG mitigation
  • Provide coordination for international collaboration on research and design of (region specific) circular food systems
  • Provide policy-makers with strategies how to implement circular food systems, based on proven technologies and system designs.

Network activities

An online kick-off workshop of the network will be organised 22-23 June 2021. A Call for Abstracts for your contributions to the network can be found here (open until April 30). The announcement of the kick-off workshop can be found here.

Other foreseen activities include:

  • Establish the network through bringing together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers
  • Initiate knowledge development about objectives, concepts and practices regarding circular food systems
  • Facilitate region specific research on the development of circular food systems
  • Organise an international Circular Food Systems Conference in 2022

Further reading:

de Boer, I.J.M. and van Ittersum, M.K., 2018. Circularity in agricultural production. Mansholt lecture, 19 September 2018, Brussels, Wageningen University & Research, 71 pp. https://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/7/5/5/14119893-7258-45e6-b4d0-e514a8b6316a_Circularity-in-agricultural-production-20122018.pdf

Van Zanten, H.H.E., Van Ittersum, M.K., De Boer, I.J.M., 2019. The role of farm animals in a circular food system. Global Food Security 21, 18-


For more information on the Circular Food Systems Network, please contact CFSnetwork@wur.nl.