According to the FAO, every year the world throws away a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food, about one third of all food destined for human consumption. In Italy alone, the amount of “wasted” food is estimated to be 3.3-3.5 million tons a year. This startling fact – and the possible technological solutions – have given rise to the SORT project (SORT is an Italian acronym for ‘technologies and models for the unwrapping, organisation of stocks and tracing of wasted foodstuffs), the protagonists of which are the town council of Imola, 6 companies and two universities in the region of Emilia-Romagna.
Devised as part of the Smart Cities and Social Innovation programme and approved by the Ministry of Universities and Research, the project has invested over 18 million Euros in the quest for a response to the matter of “non-optimal organisation of foodstuff supply lines”. In other words: food often ends up in the rubbish tip – because of the sole sell-by date on the label – when it’s still edible.
Some examples of waste areas? Animal husbandry, the production of compost, energy etc. The goal may appear simple but what it requires is – and hence the SORT project – is a differently organised food supply chain from the multiple viewpoints of logistics, distribution, labelling and the management of different sell-by dates according to usage… and, first and foremost, packaging.
“The perfection of unpacking systems to extract the good from its primary packaging and convey it towards the re-concentration point”. This is just one example of the key goals of SORT, whose partners include, in addition to the University of Bologna and Ferrara, key packaging industry players such as Sacmi Packaging, Future Space, Selex Elsag, Plastic Sort and labelling pioneers from Alfacod to Curti Costruzioni spa.
Deemed the best of the projects presented as apart of the Miur Smart Cities competition, the project sponsored by the town council of Imola has already attracted the attention of the Environment Minister and Economic Development Minister. The ambition is to replicate the results - which include a completely new food stock and expiry date indication management system that takes into account every possible use- on a much vaster scale.