According to estimates of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2050 the world population will reach 9.1 billion people, which will require increasing food production by 70%. On the other hand, global warming has caused havoc in diverse sectors, and one of them food is production.
By crossing both data, concepts such as circular economy begin to take shape and make sense in people’s minds. Chile already has entrepreneurs who are basing their business on this model of sustainability and care for the environment. Cristián Emhart is one of them.
The industrial civil engineer from the Universidad Católica de Chile, Cristián Emhart, along with other partners, founded the company called F4F or Food ForThe Future, which, in the south of Chile, specifically in Puerto Montt, works to give value to organic waste and produce food based on insects.
To do this work they use an army; not a traditional one, but one made up of Black Soldier flies, an insect which larvae feed on organic waste that is transformed into proteins and other ingredients of high nutritional value for animal feed, specifically for the salmon industry.
What led you to dedicate yourself to this business?
"We saw, on the one hand, that we have a tremendous amount of organic waste that is lost. And, on the other hand, we have the need to increase food production and there is no way to do it, because the earth can’t produce enough. We have this fly that transforms organic waste into food, and this discovery was so powerful, so logical, that it motivated us to do it."
Why did they focus on the aquaculture industry?
"If you analyze it, you will see that a lot of the proteins come from the sea. We know that fishing is collapsing and the volumes of fishing production reached their peak in 1996, since then it has only been decreasing. We transform our larvae into insect meal, which can replace fish meal as a source of protein. 1 kg of fly eggs, will transform 25 tons of organic waste in a week, and upon replacing the fish meal, it means that 9,000 kilos of fish are not fished."
What was the reason for adopting the circular economy as a fundamental aspect of your business?
"For there to be a future, the economy has to change from a linear to a circular model. From the agro-industrial point of view, we are 100% aligned with the circular economy. We are closing the food cycle. The food was lost; 33% of all the food produced is lost today and we are reinserting that loss into the food cycle."
The circular economy is key to the development of the global food economy, to transform it into a more solid and sustainable one, positively and directly affecting the production of food, with more efficient processes. Cristián Emhart is emphatic in explaining that a cultural change is required, both at the business and consumer levels.
What will it take for all companies to change from the linear model to the circular one?
"Companies have to change their practices, but consumers do too, because they have to understand that by always demanding lower and lower prices, that cost reduction is assumed by someone or something, and sometimes can be translated into environmental or social costs. The change from a linear to a circular economy is a systemic change that requires the cooperation of all the actors."
A great deal needs to be done in Chile alone or worldwide?
"I believe that the global economy is far from being in a circular economy. There are many new initiatives, many more than one believes, which are the solutions of the future, and we must support and strengthen these initiatives in the most efficient and collaborative way possible. To transform an economy there are many industries that have practices that are based on the current economy and that has to be changed, but it is not something that can happen overnight."
Chile in the world’s eyes
In December, Chile will host the Summit for Climate Change (COP25), which will address various issues that seek to involve all participating countries so that they commit to increasing their environmental concern, and Emhart knows that we should take advantage of this showcase to the world.