Which kind of organic waste is considered in the RES URBIS project?

Several types of organic waste of urban origin and similar waste from food processing were treated and converted into valuable products in the framework of the RES URBIS Project. These organic waste include:

  1. the organic fraction from separate collection of municipal solid waste, such as food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises;
  2. excess sludge from treatment of urban wastewater;
  3. garden and park waste;
  4. selected waste from food-processing, namely fruit waste.

It has to be emphasized that the integrated treatment of different organic waste streams requires that a state-of-the-art system for separate collection of each organic waste is available, while an improvement of the waste transportation systems may be needed, as the various types of urban wastes are to be delivered to the same technical facility. Similarly, it is assumed that municipal wastewater is collected and treated to achieve present wastewater discharge standards (usually adopting nutrient removal approaches and standards), whereas sludge treatment and disposal can typically represent an issue either from economic or environmental point of view. Specific investigation also included other waste streams, that are usually not collected together with organic waste (e.g. nappies), but that could potentially be accepted in the proposed process chain. Another waste stream of great interest is food-processing waste, provided it presents a suitable composition and that better recycling options in the food chain are not available. Of course, if any food-processing waste is included, its collection and transport has to be taken into account in the territorial and economic activities.

In this sense, the approval of the amendment (Directive 2018/851 EU) to the previous Waste Directive (Directive 2008/98 EC) is a considerable step forward a new harmonisation of the waste management systems, in the general perspective of an european Circular Economy. 

It is noteworthy that waste 1), 3) and 4) clearly belong to the category of “biowaste” that means “biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises, comparable waste from food processing plants and other waste with similar biodegradability properties that is comparable in nature, composition and quantity;”

Indeed, the new Framework Directive on Waste (2018/851, amending 2008/98/EC), clearly prescribes the separate collection of biowaste as the basis of urban waste management and calls Member States for promoting the use of materials produced from bio-waste: these points are clearly and perfectly in line with the RES URBIS concept.

On the other hand, the new Directive (which was not in force at the time RES URBIS started) does not clearly include wastewater sludge in the “biowaste” definition. This might affect the RES URBIS initial strategy of combining waste streams, which will need to be specifically authorized at national level by single countries. In this sense it is important that at least in one of selected clusters the combination of urban biowaste and sludge is already in practice at full scale for biogas production through anaerobic digestion. To also include other cases, the RES URBIS strategy has been easily and succesfully re-shaped to consider the tretament of bio-waste only.