8 December 2021 Circular Food System in FAO Pakistan: Embracing zero food-waste

Despite the environmental challenges inherent to working in remote locations, FAOPK is committed to operating in an environmentally friendly way, walking the talk in matters of sustainability. During 2020, FAOPK designed creative solutions to the environmental problems they experienced daily, namely the reliance on diesel generators for electricity, and the absence of a local waste management infrastructure, paving the way for government offices and other organizations to follow FAOPK’s path towards sustainability.

In a number of regions where FAOPK operates, the electricity grid is unreliable, thus creating a dependence on electricity produced by highly polluting diesel generators. Therefore, reducing GHG emissions caused by the generators was a priority in 2020. To this end, solar PV systems were installed in FAO field offices in Quetta and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In addition, FAOPK provided assistance to Government offices that expressed interest in solar power and switching to clean energy alternatives, thus having a further impact on GHG emission reductions at the national level.

Equally important is the waste management program designed by FAO Pakistan, which has been successfully implemented despite the lack of local waste management infrastructure. Currently, plastics, paper, and organic waste are separated and recycled to be reused locally, promoting values and principles of a circular economy in the community.

Notably, FAOPK developed a closed-loop food system in the Islamabad office, where organic waste and left-over food is added to a makeshift composter, transforming waste into nutrient-rich soil. The compost is later used to grow seasonal fruits and vegetables that are enjoyed by FAO staff, closing the system loop and ensuring a circular, self-sustaining operation, where no excess organic waste is produced. This method efficiently diverts organic waste from landfills and reduces CO2 and methane emissions. Moreover, the garden is grown organically without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides that can harm the microbiome and ecosystems nearby. Currently, FAOPK is growing 40 kilograms of vegetables and 20 kilograms of fruit annually.

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