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Food Poverty Lab

Zero waste with the Food Poverty Lab in Cermenate

The Food Poverty Lab is a multi-stakeholder project, commissioned by the Lombardy Food Bank in collaboration with Altis-Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan to improve waste management, the distribution of food surplus and to develop pilot projects in the area.


Bolton Food constantly commits to improving its supply chain during all production stages and is engaged in promoting the principles of a correct, balanced diet. For this reason, since 2011, it has provided the Food Bank with high-quality, perfectly edible food which, although unsellable for various reasons, can be used by people in need.

Within our ‘Responsible’ commitment, we have developed a structured approach to tackle the problem of surplus food by creating an opportunity to recover and distribute it.

In 2017, to identify solutions for the recovery of surplus food across our production processes, we participated in the Food Poverty Lab.

These meetings resulted in the idea of developing a project to recover raw vegetable materials from the Insalatissime line. After a meticulous process of study and experimentation in our Cermenate factory in 2018, the Insalatissime line has become the subject of the pilot project.

The project: “Recovering surplus food across the production process”.

This project was inspired by the need to pursue our commitment to supporting the Food Bank by working to improve the structure of the surplus management process, creating efficient territorial networks and strengthening the processes related to the recovery and distribution of surplus food.

This project involves the recovery, from the Cermenate plant, of vegetables that are packaged in bags suitable for food contact, allowing for the recovery of surplus deriving from emptying the Insalatissime vegetable filling line. These bags are appropriately labeled to ensure that they display the relevant information: name of the vegetable mixture, production date, weight, allergens and inclusion of instructions for use. The surplus vegetables have a 24 hours useful life and, therefore, they are collected daily by Siticibo and other organizations in the area. As far as the beneficiaries are concerned , four charitable bodies were identified:

  • Incontri – Mensa del povero Don Guanella – Como (distributing approximately 160 meals a day)
  • Mensa del povero San Vincenzo – Como (distributing approximately 120 meals a day)
  • Casa accoglienza Ozanam – Como (distributing approximately 80 meals a day)
  • Mensa del povero Incontri di Cantù (distributing approximately 100 meals a day)

The collaboration with Banco Alimentare has led us in valorizing a product that was destined to biogas production: the surplus was not thrown away, but used for this purpose. Further, this project has also been positively accepted by the personnel involved in the process of surplus management.