Implementation of circular economy in Lithuania: Three case studies

Aistė Bartkienė, Renata Bikauskaitė, Diana Mincytė

As part of the CIRCLE project, our team will be collaborating with three companies in Lithuania implementing circular economy principles. Three companies agreed to work with us, including the Auga group, Ekofrisa, and Insectum.

Auga is one of the most innovative agro-food companies in Europe. Managing approx. 39.000 hectares of organically certified land, it is the largest organic food producer and processor in the EU. It combines traditional agricultural knowledge with new technologies to produce crops, dairy, poultry and mushrooms. All production processes are interconnected and follow a closed loop organic farming principle where crops are used for cattle feed and straw goes to mushroom compost, livestock manure is used to fertilize crops and make compost, which in turn becomes fertilizer for the crops. Auga presents their sustainable food chain in the following diagram:

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As the diagram indicates, in addition to developing environmentally friendly farming practices, Auga also produces biomethane that fuels their newly designed and patented first hybrid biomethane-electric which can operate up to 12 hours without refueling, a milestone achievement in developing a new generation of agricultural machinery. Auga is also working on emission-reducing feed technologies that builds on the sustainable crop system. In so doing, this group implements sustainability in agriculture and offers products that are not only sustainable, but also regenerative. Our team plans to conduct several interviews with the company to examine how they developed circular models of production and what practices for caring for the environment it adopted. 

Ekofrisa is one of the largest processors of grains in the Baltic States. The company specializes in processing buckwheat, barley, wheat, pearl barley and legumes to produce eco-friendly products such as groats, flakes and flour. Ekofrisa’s main goal is to achieve balanced a sustainable production system that balances environmental issues with economic growth of the company and the entire sector. In addition to implementing innovative technologies and approaches in their production practices, they have developed closed loop systems aimed to eliminate waste, which is one of the fundamental principles in circular economy. As a result the company has collaborated with scientists to develop a new kind of mulch and invested in processing buckwheat hulls for consumer goods such as pillows and mattresses and broken buckwheat groats and flour for animal food. Moreover, they use part of the buckwheat hulls for production of green energy. We will be working with the company representatives to better understand how they arrived at the decision to adopt circular economy and the development of innovative practices. 

Unlike Auga and Ekofrisa, which are well-established conventional agro-food companies, Insectum is a young and dynamic start up led by scientists working on bio-technological innovation in alternative proteins. The company has developed an efficient insect rearing technology for growing black soldier flies using food waste. Their approach involves collaborating with urban waste management organizations to collect and separate bio-waste such as coffee grounds from large office buildings that then are used to grow larvae. The larvae products are used as a source of protein for sustainable feed for farm animals, fish and pets. The granulated larvae frass which is part of the insect production process is also used as an ecological fertilizer for agriculture. As a young team, Insectum is also pursuing a noted educational mission aimed at teaching the public about the benefits of the use of various beetles and flies in agricultural food chains. Transforming food waste using insects is an important advancement of circular technologies and we hope to learn more about the company’s approach during our visits and interviews with their team.

We are thrilled to be able to work with the three companies to deepen our knowledge of the implementation of circular economy approaches in their work.

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