Pilots select the biowaste chain to be further investigated and develop scenarios to reach a circular bioeconomy

Photo by Tomás M on Unsplash

Biocircularcities aims to improve local circular bioeconomy strategies in three pilot territories. It consists in making a better use of bio-based losses and waste, by reducing them in the first place, and then optimising their collection and recovery to turn them in valuable bio-based products.

As it would be too ambitious to study in details all the existing sectors dealing (i.e., producing or managing) with biowaste on their territory, each of the three pilots identified one specific biowaste chain to analyse more in details. This chain is not only representative of the territory but also corresponding to a biowaste stream that is currently either under-exploited or having the potential to be valorised in an innovative way and with a high added value, in line with the principles of circular bioeconomy and the waste hierarchy.

Municipal solid waste, biowaste from agro-industrial chain and biowaste from agro-forestry chain

Interviews with local partners and feedback from stakeholders led to the identification of the following biowaste chains to be studied:

  • Metropolitan Area of Barcelona: biowaste from the municipal solid waste
  • Metropolitan City of Naples: biowaste from the agro-industrial chain
  • Province of Pazardzhik: biowaste from the agro-forestry sector (both forestry residues and wood processing waste)

Then, pilots provided for their selected biowaste chain a detailed description covering: generation (origin, amount and type), collection (door to door, containers etc.), transportation (distances, vehicles etc.), treatment (mechanical and biological treatment, composting, anaerobic digestion etc.), final disposal (landfill and/or incineration). In collaboration with the local stakeholders, the pilot territories also identified existing challenges in the current biowaste management systems and current strategies for biowaste prevention or other circular patterns to define Business as Usual scenarios and propose alternative scenarios to improve the management of these biowaste chains in line with circular bioeconomy.

One pilot, one biowaste chain, one suggested scenario to reach circular bioeconomy

In the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, prevention measures to reduce municipal solid biowaste generation and alternative separate collections (smart bins or door to door instead of open containers) to incentivise quality and quantity of biowaste separately collected will be explored. Moreover, the feasibility of producing added value bioproducts such as biosolvents or biomethane to inject in the grid or to use as alternative fuel for transportation will be explored.

The alternative scenario of the Metropolitan City of Naples foresees the introduction of an innovative conversion process for biowaste from the agro-industrial chain to produce added value products such bio-based functional ingredients, bioplastics, bio-chemicals, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical bioproducts.

The Pazardzhik Province decided to focus on energy recovery (e.g. Combined Heat and Power plant) or/and the lignocellulosic valorisation (e.g. biochemicals) of the unexploited biowaste from forestry sectors. This scenario should contribute to incentivise a larger deployment of circular bioeconomy in a territory where 55% of the land is occupied by forests.

The work carried out by the three pilots to map the biowaste chains to study will be summarised in a report on “State of the art of biowaste production and management in the pilot areas”, to be published on the Biocircularcities website.