Milano wins the Earthshot Prize 2021 thanks to its innovative food policy, that aims at halving food waste by 2030. The Earthshot Prize rewards the city’s commitment towards a more environmentally-friendly urban future and its role of global leader in the fight against climate change.

The city of Milan won the Earthshot Prize, a prestigious international award for the best solutions to protect the environment, thanks to its food waste hubs project.

Earthshot Prize 2021, Milan. Deputy Mayor Anna Scavuzzo with Andrea Magarini, the City of Milan's Food Policy manager.
Deputy Mayor Anna Scavuzzo with Andrea Magarini, the City of Milan’s Food Policy manager

The winners of the first edition of the Earthshot Prize were announced by Prince William and Kate Middleton on Sunday 17 October, after having been selected among 750 initiatives from all over the world. 

For the award ceremony, the BBC organized a live connection with London from a terrace overlooking the Duomo, Milan’s famous cathedral. The award ceremony was attended by deputy mayor Anna Scavuzzo, together with representatives of all the organizations that helped the city develop its pioneering scheme to combat food waste.  

Milan won in the “Build a waste-free world” category, thanks to its neighbourhood food waste hubs, which recover food to give to those most in need.

“Milan is the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses. And it is working” explained the organizers.

“The City of Milan is incredibly honoured and proud to have been chosen as winner of the first-ever Earthshot Prize” commented the Mayor of Milan Beppe Sala. The winners in the other four categories of the award included the Republic of Costa Rica for a project that pays local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, a land-based coral farm in the Bahamas to restore dying coral reefs, a green hydrogen technology developed in Berlin to transform how homes and buildings are powered, and an India-based technology that creates fuel from agricultural waste in a bid to stop crop burning. 

Milan’s neighbourhood hubs against food waste were launched in 2017. The goal of the project is to halve food waste by 2030. The hubs collect surplus food from supermarkets and office canteens and then donate it to charities and NGOs, who distribute it to the neediest citizens.. The project is the result of an alliance between the City of Milan, the Polytechnic University of MilanAssolombarda (an association of local businesses), the Cariplo Foundation and the QuBì Program.

Earthshot Prize 2021, Milan wins thanks to its neighbourhood hubs against food waste

The creation of the first hub, operated by the Food Bank of Lombardy, made it possible to save over 10 tons of food per month, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent a year, which reached 3,800 people, thanks to the contribution of 20 supermarkets, 4 canteens and 24 other entities. 

There are now three food hubs in Milan. The second hub, located in the Lambrate district, was created immediately after the first lockdown in spring 2020, and it is also managed by the Food Bank and with the contribution of AVIS and BCC Milano. The third hub, in the Gallaratese area, is managed by NGO Terre des hommes with the contribution of the Milan Foundation. Two more hubs are due to open by the end of the year in the Corvetto district and in the city center

The Earthshot Prize, worth £1 million, will be used to strengthen the existing Hubs and open new ones, ensuring their long-term sustainability.

Earthshot Prize 2021, Milan wins thanks to its neighbourhood hubs against food waste

Milan’s long-term goal is to encourage other cities, such as those that are part of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pactto replicate the initiative and create their own food waste hubs. 

The Earthshot Prize rewards Milan’s commitment towards a more environmentally-friendly urban future. In 2015, after hosting Expo 2015, whose theme was “Feeding the Planet”, Milan adopted its first Food Policy and since then the city has worked to make its food system more equitable and sustainable, while also taking on a global leadership role, promoting collective initiatives such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.