REBECCA NELSON: The thing that got me most excited as we went through this panel process was these ideas around-- were these ideas around circular economy. So that means kinda of going from a mine or make, use, and waste model to one way you're recycling things basically and upcycling them.
So for example, a big chunk of the food that we produce gets wasted before, during, or after harvest. And everything that people eat becomes post-consumer waste coming out of us.
And so we have all these organic wastes-- from agricultural industries, from our landscapes, from our bodies-- that become pollution. And how much of that pollution could we avoid and how much of the use of fossil fuel resources could be avoid if we didn't just expect the environment to absorb our waste but instead we used them for-- because, you know, what we breathe out, plants breathe in. They feed us. We can feed them, if we do it that way.
So what would it take to get people to see their waste as resources? What would it take to develop these waste-to-value chains that make this happen in a profitable, efficient, attractive way?
And so I learned a lot from the panelists. I can say, for example, Alexander Mathys, who works at ETH in Switzerland, for kind of delighting me with new ideas. Because the Europeans have dug in really deeply around innovations related to circular economy. And I think we have a lot to learn.
So basically, I hope that our panel process, the relationships we formed in conducting this work, and the report itself can help us move to advance some of these changes that we need to bring us a food system that is more healthy, equitable, resilient, and sustainable.
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Rebecca Nelson, professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science and in Global Development, co-chaired the report on global agricultural and food systems innovation, reform and sustainability. She reimagines mining everyday waste and turning it into useful resources.