Memorias de investigación
Book chapters:
Connecting Local Food and Organic Waste Management Systems: Closing Nutrient Loops in the City of Madrid

Research Areas
  • Waste,
  • Applied ecology,
  • Quality of the environment,
  • Orchard,
  • Urban sociology

Cities stand out as the main destination of processed and consumed resources coming from all over the world. The urban metabolism approach warns us against the prevailing linear processes that move from production to consumption generating huge amounts of waste, which are not reintegrated back into the system. A transition towards a circular urban metabolism is a fundamental issue. In the case of the food system, the goal of returning organic matter and nutrients to the soil and closing nutrient cycles poses an important societal challenge. Considering that our food system is globalised, means with which to find feasible ways of closing nutrient cycles at the local level are not evident. This chapter explores the potential of addressing simultaneously the issues of food production and organic waste and their re-connection, so that the transition to a more re-localised urban food system is complemented by a revisited model of local organic waste management. We present an empirical case study of the city of Madrid (Spain), an experience that reintegrates organic waste into regional Alternative Food Networks. It was initiated as a bottom up approach by the civic platform Madrid Agroecologico, which demanded new public policies and the definition of a sustainable urban food strategy. Local farmers became responsible for composting organic waste from selected schools, residential areas and municipal markets within a pilot project called Madrid Agrocomposta, financed by the local municipality. The project was instrumental in raising awareness of the issue concerning waste and its potential re-use as compost to amend soils. We also explore the potential and the implications for public policies to accommodate a fundamental shift towards recycling organic solid waste into compost for urban agriculture or green areas. The analysis of the material and physical factors from the perspective of metabolism flows is applied to identifying ways to close the nutrient cycles by community composting inside the city or in peri-urban farms and setting distributed small scale waste processing plants. They would result in the integration of different waste management systems and introducing new players into a sector dominated by large companies, willing to retain a tight control of the urban waste management business.
Book Edition
Book Publishing
Book title
Socio-Metabolic Perspectives on the Sustainability of Local Food Systems
From page
To page

Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad (GIAU+S)
  • Departamento: Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio