A cleaner and leaner food industry in Jordan

Jordan imports most of its food due to limited agricultural land, no oil resources and scarce water supply.

Jordan is considered ‘food secure’ by the World Food Programme yet 90% of its wheat and energy comes from abroad.

The country faces additional pressure when it comes to putting food on the table. It has the second highest share of refugees per capita in the world.

A UK-Jordan research collaboration is trying to improve the food sector in Jordan by:

  • adopting cleaner production methods and the principles of circular economy
  • showing the food industry how they can preserve natural resources
  • improving food security
  • increasing competitiveness
  • opening up new markets for Jordanian products.

The team works with food industries to limit CO2 emissions and minimise the waste of water, energy, and raw materials. Reducing and recycling existing materials and products is known as Resource Efficient Cleaner Production (RCEP) .

The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Royal Scientific Society found that the high cost of raw materials, energy and water had the most impact on how competitive food sectors could be. CO2 emission from the industrial sector constitutes 10% of the Jordan’s total green-house gas emissions.

Implementing Resource Efficient Cleaner Production (RCEP) will reduce the amount of resources used and bring down costs. It will help big companies to comply with new international environmental standards, potentially increasing their food export share.

The project team started off by training government employees on the circular economy and RECP concepts. Then they moved on to NGOs and service providers. Eventually they extended the training to universities. The team worked with 50 students from the German Jordan University and Princess University for Technology.

So far the team are working with three food industries with potential to double this by the end of the project. They are completing the RECP assessment at two of the industries and have identified potential savings. The team expect to achieve a 20% reduction in energy consumption, and 15% reduction in the use of water and raw materials by applying RECP in each industry. They will also estimate how much CO2 can be saved.

The project has demonstrated the concept of ‘decoupling’ – generating economic growth while decreasing environmental degradation and ecological scarcity – which provides a showcase for other companies to adopt RECP principles. They hope this will drive the transition towards sustainable consumption and production practices in all food companies in Jordan. This will support Jordan’s national green growth plan and increase food security.

The team will develop a platform to make it easier for micro and small enterprises to implement cost and environment-saving measures, and to assess their performance. The information will be shared through the Decapolis (Jordanian private company that uses this method) digital block-chain platform.

Researchers also hope to use wireless sensors to digitally track RECP environmental benefits and create an online repository about how RECP is working across different industries. Data will be stored in the block-chain.

Integrating and Digitizing Resource Efficient Cleaner Production (RECP) in Food Industries: Towards Circular Economy in Jordan

Project leads: Prof Vikas Kumar, University of the West of England, UK and Dr Al-Moayyad Assayed, Royal Scientific Society (RSS), Jordan.

Delivery partner(s): Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Scientific Society, University of the West of England (UWE), DecapolisCo.

Other key partners:  Al-Mazraah Dairy Company, AlWadi Food Industry, Gheras Company for Trading and Investment