A new concept of food market to boost the circular transition

Milan Pilot insights

A new concept of food market to boost the circular transition

The Milan Pilot focuses on supporting the transition towards a circular agri-food system by connecting and adapting the current food system to how modern citizens consume and live today. The city of Milan owns 23 municipal covered food markets. Recognizing that the existing network represents a unique opportunity to promote a sustainable change, through co-creation, co-design processes and democratized technological advancements, the Milan Pilot aims at creating a model of circular Food Market 4.0. 


Given the increasing interest in food boosted by Expo 2015, the Municipality of Milan has started to promote a set of policies and initiatives focused on innovative and urban agriculture, food processing and distribution, education and culture. Furthermore, the Municipality has characterized all its actions supporting open and social innovation projects. The city also owns the system of the municipal covered markets, which today represents a unique opportunity to contribute to transforming the urban food system and city itself.   

The Milan Pilot aims at supporting the city’s vision on circular food by providing sustainable solutions at the local market level. The pilot will foster and test sustainable food logistics, develop market laboratories to disseminate circular practices, track the origin and quality of agricultural products, analyze the interrelations between rural and urban communities. 


With a strong focus on open innovation processes to circular economy practices and following the so-called “Fab-city perspective”, the Milan Pilot intends to transform municipal covered markets into places where to co-produce circular solutions within the food system. 

The Milan Pilot is mapping and analyzing the streams of agri-food products on selected markets through engagement processes: those analysis will contribute to co-create a catalogue of possible circular solutions for Milan municipal markets. Co-design workshops and prototyping experiments are at the core of the activities of the Pilot, which will definitely contribute to speed up the Milanese transition to the circular economy. 


In a short term, in collaboration with three Fab Labs (OpenDot, WeMake and PoliFactory), the Milan Pilot engaged and mapped five municipal markets, and will establish co-design labs to co-develop circular solutions, prototype and experiment with those solutions. 

In the long term, the Pilot aims at impacting Milanese food and market policies, developing a circular agri-food project, connecting agricultural activities in peri-urban areas to municipal covered markets and implementing various circular and tech solutions for a more sustainable food system. Once tested this approach with selected pilot markets, the goal will be to extend positive results to other municipal covered markets, in a logic of scalability. 


The Milan Pilot is based on three main streams of actions: 

  1. stakeholder engagement, mapping and research grounding activities; 
  2. co-design labs and workshops;
  3. prototype experiments. 

Additionally, a conclusive stream will provide an impact evaluation and the production of a set of guidelines for ad hoc policy-making.  

The first phase has already ended producing the analysis of five municipal covered markets and the engagement of important big Milan players in food and waste streams: So.Ge.Mi, as manager of Milan General Market, and Amsa, for the city waste collection. This first phase ended in Novembre 2020 with the first co-creation workshop, engaging So.Ge.Mi, Amsa and Milan Food Policy representatives.  

The workshop aimed at focusing and translating three dimensions of circularity into innovative concepts for municipal markets, together with project partners and the external support of P2P. The outcome of the workshop was the elaboration of ideas of circular economy solutions to be applied in covered municipal markets, identifying the actors to be involved and forecasting the potential effects on the city. 

The second phase of actions will be developed in early 2021 and will consist of a cycle of co-design workshops developing the ideas previously elaborated evaluating and fine-tuning the operational feasibility of the proposals. 

The third stream of actions, scheduled to begin in May 2021 and to be ended by December, will provide experiments  and use cases within markets and, beside stakeholders, will directly involve customers and citizens. 


The Milan Pilot team is working with: 

  • commercial activities located in municipal covered markets; 
  • citizens, customers and neighborhood communities; 
  • Fab Labs and makerspaces; 
  • institutions and public companies involved in food and waste city streams. 


The Milan Pilot team is envisioning to engage with a broader network of local stakeholders such as: 

  • start-ups developing circularity strategies and engaging in circular innovations (upcycling of waste) 
  • students, Universities 
  • citizens and communities at the neighbourhood scale

Milan Pilot

This website uses cookies to improve your experience.Privacy Policy
+ +