Project journal
Modifier 29 April 2021
by Christina Marouli

A2UFood Journal 5: The progress of Heraklion during COVID-19

Distribution of neighbourhood composting bins and training
Digital tools, bioplastics laboratory trials, composting, awareness raising, dissemination and tendering have progressed. Heraklion is getting ready for construction work. Journal 5 documents the progress in the last period and discusses challenges.
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1. Executive Summary

This 5th Journal on the A2UFood project of the city of Heraklion in Crete, funded by the Urban Innovative Actions initiative of the European Commission, focuses on the project’s progress in the period March 2020 to March 2021.

The A2UFood addresses the issue of food waste and aspires to design and implement a holistic food system involving food waste prevention, optimal use and composting with the aim to divert food waste from the waste stream and to feed the circular economy (and society) of the city. It adopts a holistic approach, addressing both environmental and social concerns.

Pic.1: Valuable food should not end into food waste
Pic.1: Valuable food should not end into food waste

The project has significantly been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, augmenting delays that have warranted a prolongation of its duration. The period this Journal covers coincides with the three waves of the pandemic and is reflecting the difficulties that ensued from the inevitable changes in socio-economic practices and administrative modes of working.  A pivotal concern of the project in this period has been its feasibility and resilience in these challenging times.

The main activities in this period revolved around licensing and tendering, concluding bioplastics laboratory trials, and enhancements of digital tools. The home composters were distributed to 100 households, while the tendering for the two institutional and 6 neighborhood Autonomous Composting Units is expected to be concluded in April. The engineering studies and the tendering processes for the Second Opportunity Restaurant and the Bioplastics Unit progressed and are almost complete. The digital tool for food waste reduction for the public has been enhanced but has not been shared with the Supermarket customers yet due to some concerns of the Supermarket team.

Due to the serious impacts of the pandemic on the tourist industry, the second trial of the RESOURCEMANAGER-FOOD (RMF) tool in hotels was postponed, while communication was also circumscribed as lockdowns limited the usual – and preferred in this corner of the world – face-to-face interactions. A virtual international conference is being organised for May 2021. Construction and full operation of the project activities remain to be done in the future.

The project partners are now called to persist on their efforts to conclude the licensing and tendering procedures and the construction phase efficiently, in order to ensure some time for the demonstration phase within the new project time frame. Flexibility, effective collaborations, and creativity are needed in times of crisis.

2. Act 5: Covid shock wave and resilience: Prolongation and tight schedule

2.1. Food waste prevention

2.1.1. Digital tools for food waste prevention

2.1.2. The awareness raising campaign

2.2. Avoidable and unavoidable food waste utilization

2.3. Urban composting

2.4. Operation, evaluation, scale up and supporting transferability of the A2U Food Scheme

2.5. Communication and knowledge transfer

2.6. Challenges faced and lessons learnt

3. Future challenges and risks

Challenges and level of risk

Challenge
Observation

An additional challenge the project will face relates with the timing of the completion of project activities and the coordination with the involved stakeholders. More specifically, the anticipated beginning of the operation of the Second Opportunity Restaurant and the Bioplastics unit in late fall or early winter coincides with the off-season period for most hotels. So, the A2U Food team needs to consider where good quality food remnants to supply the Second Opportunity Restaurant, or food waste for the Bioplastics unit will be found in the winter months. The team should be creative and plan for alternative sources of wasted food for the short operation period within the project time frame, if the participating hospitality units are not in operation at that time.

4. What next?

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