The overall objective of the project is to integrate into a single facility and to use one main technology chain for the conversion of several types of urban bio-wastes into valuable bio-based products, while also minimizing any residual or consequent waste to be disposed of.

This objective has been achieved by:

  • collection and analysis of data on urban organic waste production, their characteristics and present management systems in selected territorial clusters.
  • well-targeted experimental activity to solve a number of open technical issues related to the conversion of mixed organic waste feedstock into close-to-market bio-based products (in particular biodegradable bioplastics), by using the appropriate combination of innovative and catalogue-proven technologies.
  • market analysis within several economic scenarios and business models for full exploitation of bio-based products (including a path forward to remove regulatory barriers and constraints).

More in detail, as also required from the Call CIRC-05, urban organic waste includes:

  • the organic fraction from separate collection of municipal solid waste, such as food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises,
  • excess sludge from treatment of urban wastewater (not excluding integration with wastewater treatment),
  • garden and parks waste, and similar,
  • selected waste from food-processing facilities.

Territorial and economic analyses of the proposed technology chain have been be performed by evaluating these three main scenarios:

  • Implementing a well-designed urban biowaste biorefinery
  • Integrating the waste biorefinery into existing anaerobic digestion plants
  • Integrating the waste bioerefinery into existing wastewater treatment plants

The feasibility of the proposed concept and scenarios was investigated in territorial clusters, which have been selected in different European countries and present different characteristics:

  • Province of Trento (Italy)
  • Barcelona Metropolitan area (Spain)
  • Lisbon Metropolitan area (Portugal)
  • South Wales (United Kingdom)
  • City of Copenaghen (Denmark)

As for bio-based products, the project is mostly focusing on:

  • polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and related PHA-based bioplastics
  • bio-based solvents (to be possibly used also in PHA extraction)
  • fibers (to be used for PHA-based biocomposites).

Then the economic analysis was based on several PHA-derived bioplastics, which were produced at pilot scale and tested for their final applications. These included a full portfolio of applications:

  • Biodegradable commodity film
  • Packaging interlayer film
  • Specialty durables (such as electronics and/or interior design good)
  • PHA-fibers biocomposites
  • Premium slow C release system for groundwater remediation