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The word "waste" describes materials or products that are no longer of use. In a linear economy, it accumulates as an undesired by-product of economic activity. Waste and environmental hazards are commonplace throughout the current industrialized food system. Although some initiatives have been aiming to reduce waste toward the end stage—for example, by changing consumer perceptions and matching excess supply with demand—significant progress needs to be made during food production. Where do we start?
One idea that has been growing in both research and practice is the circular economy, which sees value in "waste" flows and re-routes them back into the economic process. A striking example of a circular-economy business model in action is aquaponics, which combines elements of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (plant farming with controlled systems). It allows a single producer to sustainably grow produce and raise fish within the local community.
Aquaculture - Structures - Environment - Aquaponics - Circular-symbiosis
While traditional aquaculture is performed in structures within a natural environment, aquaponics adopts the circular-symbiosis approach, where the biological waste of a fish farm is harmonised to be the biological food for the production of plants such as herbs, salads and tomatoes. Compared to traditional industrial farming operations, where circularity might be added at the end (for example, compost), aquaponics employs a circular production design by leveraging nature's template. This is a balancing act to technologically control two separate but dependent biological systems, which improves the productivity of the physical space—in this case an urban environment—while reducing environmental impacts.
Aquaponic firms leading the way include ECF Farmsystems and Stadtfarm in Berlin, BIGH Farm in Anderlecht, Urban Smart Farm in Gent and Bioaqua Farm in Blackford, United Kingdom. They're among a growing number of urban-farming pioneers that challenge the way we perceive, produce, and purchase our food.
Benefits - Comparison
How these benefits are derived can best be understood by a comparison with...
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