Description of Innovation

A2UFOOD is an action aimed at a holistic management system for food waste which to date ends up in landfills. The proposed holistic management system includes all aspects of the "reduction - reuse - recycling" philosophy. In particular, the overall reduction of food waste, the use of both food waste and the food that may have an expiration date but can be safely consumed, as well as the part that will necessarily become waste (eg skin). The A2UFOOD action seeks the implementation of the Circular Economy. The innovation concerns: 1. Creation of second chance restaurants, through renovation of buildings and purchase of equipment for the use of food waste as raw materials for the production of new food. 2. A bioplastic production system, which produces plastic materials with non-oil-based recyclable resources, with the main goal of producing compostable bags. 3. Supply of 100 household fertilizers, for the citizens of the Municipality of Heraklion. 4. Supply and installation of 2 large and 6 mechanical composters, for the food waste of hospitality units in the area, as well as educational institutions. 5. Supply of a refrigerator for the collection of food waste from the accommodation units. 6. Supply of a garbage truck for the unavoidable food waste of the accommodation units. 7. Organization of a total of 30 seminars, in collaboration with the University of Harokopi and the Hellenic Mediterranean University of Crete, for the development of systems for reducing the production of food waste. 8. Development of a market management tool and food storage at home, in order to reduce the food thrown as waste in bins, through a system connected to the supermarket customer card and the mobile phone which will suggest a recipe for use of expired food or food near the expiration date. Its operation is presented in more detail by the following image:

Reasons for Innovation

Finite resources and climate issues have necessitated the transition from a society based on the "production - consumption - disposal" model to a cyclically, environmentally neutral, sustainable and integrated cyclical economy, free of toxic emissions and carbon dioxide (CO2). A2UFOOD action aims to achieve the strategic and operational goals of the Municipality that have been set based on the Covenant of Mayors for climate and energy and their integration (Objectives: 2 and 13) and is part of the Municipal Strategic Plan (measure 1.3 solid and liquid waste management) and the sustainable urban development plan. Given the significant problems in waste management in the Municipality and under the threat of global climate change, action has been taken locally to protect the environment in the light of the circular recyclable economy and this is achieved through the use of technological applications.

Objectives of Innovation

Innovation is based on the following three axes: • CIRCULAR ECONOMY: In the era of the Circular Economy, the end of a product's life becomes the starting point for a new product • TRAINING THE CITIZEN OF TOMORROW: Through seminars informs, participates in actions for the prevention, reduction and proper management of food waste at personal and local level. • SOLIDARITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Take advantage of the surplus food in public restaurants and offer free meals to citizens in need, through the Municipal Restaurant Second Opportunity. The objectives of the action are: 1. Strengthening research, technological development and innovation. Most of the actions that make up A2UFood are either the result of the activities of the partners involved, or are based on their relevant skills to develop. 2. Improving the access, use and quality of information and communication technologies. The tools that will be created for the proper management of food in households is an activity that is directly related to this priority. 3. Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises. More specifically, at least 50 hosting companies during the action to be served with the use and prevention of waste. 4. Support the transition to a low carbon economy in all sectors. The food and beverage sector is one of the most coal-producing sectors in the EU, especially when combined with tourism. The A2UFood project seeks to reduce carbon emissions. 5. Preservation and protection of the environment and promotion of resource efficiency. The project aims to promote resource efficiency by minimizing waste and protecting the environment through the use of all food waste. Specifically, the goal has been set to increase the managed quantities of waste to 300 kg / month, to convert 1000 tons of food waste into compost per year, as well as to produce 200 tons of compost per year which will be used in private gardens and public parks. . In addition, the use of 25,000 compostable bags is envisaged for individual households, used in the separate municipal composting / source system and the reduction of municipal biological waste at the level of hospitality by 780 tons and by 320 tons at the household level. Finally, a reduction of 2% in the cost of the existing waste collection system is sought. 6. Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and discrimination. Access to good quality affordable food is a key step in combating poverty, social exclusion and discrimination. Aim for the inclusion of 1000 citizens of vulnerable social groups in the program that will receive high nutritional quality meals from recycled food. 7. Informing 25,000 citizens about the use and prevention of food waste through events, the website of the Municipality, presentations, advertising actions, etc., the communication of the actions of the program / project to more than 1,000,000 citizens, regardless of place of residence, in order to be informed about the A2UFOOD activities through dissemination activities as well as the cooperation with 12 other Municipalities of the country to utilize the recyclable material produced by the action.

Innovation results

From the start of the program in March 2019 until the summer of 2021, about 100 people a day are served by food recycling through the provision of meals. Citizens also participate in the collection program. At the moment, 100 citizens are actively involved in home composting, while about 500 people have been trained using the material of the foodsaveshare campaign. Another 15 companies have been equipped with food reuse equipment. Also, about 26,000 citizens have been informed about food reuse and ways to avoid waste generation. In addition, more than 100,000 people, regardless of place of residence, have been informed about the A2UFOOD action, through the various information channels of the project.

Design stage

The quantities of food waste, both avoidable and unavoidable, produced on a daily basis in the EU and in the urban environment in general, the pressure imposed on their production and management (disposal) in the various resources, the environment and the economy and the legal requirements for the reduction of waste and their use as part of the circular economy gave birth to the idea for the program. The idea of ​​a holistic approach to the circular economy is a goal and a constant pursuit of the Municipality. The specifications of the program are in accordance with the Implementation Guide of the UIA laboratory (Urban Innovation Actions) from which it is funded. The action A2UFOOD was developed by the Municipality and its partners, namely the Association of Solid Waste Management of Crete (ESDAK), the Hellenic Mediterranean University, Harokopio University, the University of Crete, the University of Stuttgart and the engineering company ENVIROP Municipality of Heraklion, in order to address the identified problems of waste management - and especially food waste - as well as to provide a sustainable plan to support the basic food needs of vulnerable groups by the Ministry of Health.

Implementation stage

With the decision 120/2018 of the Municipal Council the implementation of the action entitled "A2UFood: a holistic management approach for urban environments" was accepted, for the implementation of the waste management system, focusing on the hospitality sector (hotels and restaurants). The start of the program was announced with a Press Release and interviews given to the media. The Municipality as a coordinating body monitors its implementation in accordance with the processes provided by the relevant Project Management work package. Innovation, as envisaged, is implemented from an existing institution structure, linked to existing processes and implemented independently.

Dissemination stage

At this stage, communication and dissemination of innovation takes place, inside the organization, through communication networks, presentations, seminars, printed material, but also abroad, of the organization through the Press Office, seminars, the website of the organization, etc


The Municipality cooperated with the aforementioned partners in the following areas: ESDAK is responsible for the implementation of the non-avoidable waste management part (operation of a bioplastic unit). The University of Crete has developed the technology for the extraction of biopolymers from municipal waste for the production of bioplastics. Harokopio University is responsible for the organization of the collection network, the organization of the information and public awareness campaign and the Life Cycle Analysis of the alternative food waste management examined by the project. The Hellenic Mediterranean University has developed software for the purchase and storage of food and tools for monitoring home composting. ENVIROPLAN undertook the preparation of all technical plans, the issuance of permits and the preparation of tender documents for the buildings and equipment provided for in the project. The University of Stuttgart is responsible for installing and operating software in hotels to reduce waste.

Financing and costs

The total budget of A2UFOOD amounts to € 3,912,948.75 and is co-financed by the Urban Innovation Actions Initiative (UIA) through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as well as by the public contribution of the Municipality of Heraklion 299,599.25 € and 20% plus in kind. At this stage for the implementation of the innovative project, A2UFood employs 10 employees. To maintain innovation, 10 people are also expected to continue to be employed. It is estimated that the required time will be 20% of the daily schedule.

Challenges and solutions during design, testing and implementation

All the problems that have arisen have been addressed and overcome, however there is a delay in the implementation of some sub-projects, such as the second-hand food restaurant due to the covid pandemic19. The project has been significantly affected by the pandemic, increasing delays that justified its extension. The period it covers coincides with the pandemic and reflects the difficulties arising from the inevitable changes in socio-economic practices and administrative ways of working. A key concern of the work of this period was its expediency and durability. The main activities of this period were licensing and bidding, completing bioplastic laboratory tests and digital tool improvements. The digital tool for reducing food waste for the public has been improved, but has not been communicated to Supermarket customers. Due to the severe effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry, the second test of the RESOURCEMANAGER-FOOD (RMF) tool in hotels was postponed until the hotel reopened, and dissemination was also restricted as face-to-face interactions were preferred for the dissemination of the project, were also subject to restrictions.

Assessment - description of the necessary conditions for the success and sustainability of innovation

At a time when the management of organic waste is becoming a major problem for the country, the Municipality of Heraklion has developed a comprehensive plan. The A2UFOOD project is innovative and sustainable because it contributes to the prevention of food waste, the circular economy, environmental protection, solidarity and social co-responsibility and includes the Mayors' Pact for Energy and Climate, the Strategy for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Experiences, thoughts, findings

Greece is a country where the annual per capita food waste is one of the highest in the world - about 142 kg, when the average is about 74 kg - the need for proper management and reuse of biodegradable, organic waste is more than great. The food waste chain is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions, degradation of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as water pollution. The EU's new main policy approach to the issue is to reduce food waste, ie how the average person will avoid producing it. Also, in order to challenge the implementation of the circular economy in practice, all production systems must formulate new processes, which on the one hand will be able to utilize the residues to produce immediately usable material. The actions of the Municipality of Heraklion give a new perspective on tackling food loss and waste, in order to substantially help the viability of the planet and the future of humanity.

Level of government: Local

Policy area: Social Welfare and Protection, Environment

Year: 2019

Type of Innovation: Social Innovation, Citizen Involvement, Communication and Behavior, Process Design and Redesign

Innovation Stage: Dissemination

Beneficiaries: General population

Number of beneficiaries: 100 people per day / about 24,000 people in the current year 2021

Sources of Funding: National Resources, Institutional Budget, SRSS

URL: Facebook: Twitter: A2UFOOD Website:


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