Establishing a regional brand of vegetables grown on regionally recycled food waste
This project takes food waste from supermarkets, school lunches, restaurants, homes, etc. and recycles it into compost. Then the vegetables and rice grown using the compost are returned to supermarkets, schools, hotels, etc. as “Okaeri Yasai” (Welcome home vegetables).
In 1999, the city of Nagoya was facing critical waste management challenges. In order to reduce food waste, citizens, businesses, the government, and universities joined forces in 2008 to launch the “Okaeri Yasai Project.” This project recycles food waste from supermarkets, hotel restaurants, school lunches, etc. into compost, which is then used to grow vegetables such as broccoli. The vegetables grown using the compost are then sold in supermarkets, hotels, local shopping centers, and open-air markets at sports centers, etc. under the regional brand, Okaeri Yasai, and also “recycled” as school lunches.
“Okaeri Yasai” is defined as any vegetables, rice, etc. grown by replacing 10% (carbon equivalent) of necessary supplies with compost. Recycling food waste regionally helps reduce waste, as well as food mileage. Moreover, using compost to grow vegetables alleviates environmental impact on the region by cutting down on the use of chemical fertilizer and agricultural chemicals.
Besides being sold in supermarkets and used in restaurants, Okaeri Yasai vegetables are served as school lunches in Nagoya twice a year. The menu features the mascot, “Okaeri Boya,” and also introduces the activities of Okaeri Yasai. And in order to make these activities “visible” to consumers, the project organizes tours and workshops for citizens, and has even created a song about Okaeri Yasai to proactively introduce these activities to Nagoya citizens.
It has been 20 years since Nagoya realized it was facing critical waste management challenges, and the Okaeri Yasai Project has been up and running for the past decade. Going forward, the project will endeavor to gain the support of more citizens, consumers, and participating businesses so that Okaeri Yasai will become a regional brand loved by its citizens.
Okaeri Yasai is provided as school lunches twice a year on the day dedicated to eating local produce from Nagoya.