The Central de Abastos, with more than half a million daily visitors, feels more like a city than a market. Stretching across 800 acres on the eastern side of Mexico City, this wholesale produce market is the machine that feeds tens of millions of people every day. It’s also a huge source of food waste, with hundreds of tons of unsold vegetables and fruit consigned to dumpsters every day. Since 2020, the government-run Centro de Abastos has pioneered a program to redirect some of the food waste to soup kitchens feeding the city’s hungry residents. “We’re trying to foster a culture of sustainability and donation. We go stall to stall through the market to gather donations and try to teach vendors the principles of reusing and recycling everything we can,” said Graciela de Paz Fuentes, director of innovation and projects at the market. Thus far, the market’s daily food waste has decreased from 565 to 428 tons per day, a 24% reduction. Food waste will decrease further in coming years as the market brings a biodigester online, which can absorb 50 tons of organic material per day. While reducing emissions, it will also produce biogas that can power city buses.

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