Bonn, Germany

Towards circular food systems

About Bonn, Germany

Located on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Bonn is famous for having been the capital city of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1990 and is now known as Germany’s United Nations City. Bonn is seat to 18 organizations of the United Nations and hosts over 150 non-governmental organizations which focus on global issues of the future such as sustainability, voluntary participation, development cooperation and disaster prevention.

Bonn is at the forefront of sustainable urban development. The city is committed to becoming climate neutral by 2035 and to achieving a 40% emissions cut by 2030. The city’s sustainability strategy was adopted in 2019. It presents Bonn’s contribution to a systematic implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

ICLEI is working with the city of Bonn to support the circular development transition locally. Due to Bonn´s unique food landscape, the city decided to focus first on food systems. The city is also located in the Jülich-Zülpich Börde, a region of highly fertile lowland in Western Germany and currently counts 230 hectares of state agricultural land. Bonn is also rich with community initiatives that support sustainable food systems.

Bonn's circular food initiatives

Urban agriculture plots allocation

The city of Bonn supports urban agricultural initiatives by allocating vacant land throughout the city for use as urban gardens. The city has set up an easy, streamlined process for gaining access to gardening plots. This land allocation provision has allowed numerous urban garden sites and initiatives to thrive in Bonn. One such initiative is Bonn im Wandel’s edible city and urban gardening network (Essbare Stadt & Urbanes Gärtnern), an information and networking platform on sustainable agriculture and urban gardening in the city.

Organic City Bonn

The Bonn City Council decided to join the nationwide network of Organic Cities in February 2019. The network comprises 24 municipalities from all over Germany that cooperate to promote organic farming and processing and stimulate demand for locally produced organic foods with regional added value.
The City of Bonn has already taken its first steps towards ensuring more organic farming and food, from increasing the share of organic food in public schools meals to prioritizing organic farming on leased urban agricultural land in the ownership of the city of Bonn.

Promoting packaging-free local food chains

Packaging-free grocery shopping is possible in at least four dedicated packaging-free stores in Bonn and the use of light-weight plastic bags is banned on Bonn’s weekly markets. On a civil society level, the initiative Zero Waste Bonn and the local network “Plastic bag? No thanks!” contribute to less packaging waste.

Holistic organic waste management

The public waste management company BonnOrange has been a frontrunner in organic waste collection and treatment since 1992. A garbage bin dedicated to organic waste is made available to all households free of charge. The organic waste collected in Bonn is anaerobically digested in a compost plant and the resulting nutrient-rich digestate is marketed as fertilizers to regional farmers. As garden waste is less expensive to manage and yields compost of better quality, it is collected separately and taken to a private company which turns it into compost.