INNOVATION IN ORGANIC WASTE MANAGEMENT
Within the framework of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR), our main aim with this campaign is to create environmental awareness about the sustainable management of resources and waste.
- Internal target audience: Internal staff, partners, synergies, potential collaborators, LIFE projects.
- External target audience: EU citizens, specialized public, eco-restaurants, teachers, students, canteens, food networks, local and regional public authorities, businesses, NGOs, associations, waste managing companies, suppliers.
Since the beginning of the European Week for Waste Reduction in 2009, over 100,000 awareness-raising initiatives on waste prevention have been conducted throughout Europe and beyond. Its main purpose is to establish a European collaboration network to promote the well-known 3Rs: reduction of consumption, reuse of products and materials, and recycling of waste.
The theme for this year is packaging, and activities related to this focus are promoted.
2.5 billion tons of waste is generated in the EU every year. 1/3 of food produced is globally lost or wasted, and an average European citizen generates 500 kg household waste per year.
The total packaging waste generation in the EU increased from 66 million tonnes in 2009 to 78.5 million tonnes in 2019 (around 173kg per inhabitant).
New materials (eg. plastics, tyre, metals) have spreaded worldwide from the 20th century that were not exist in the environment earlier. The problematic is that they are not degradable and interrupt the cycle of nature, with devastating effects on the environment.
Minimizing packaging waste entails choosing eco-friendly, minimalist, and reusable packaging while also exploring innovative designs. Opting for paper and cardboard bags over plastic, and adopting the use of textile bags for purchases, has proven to be an effective choice yielding a knock-on effect.
Reducing food waste involves adopting practices such as smart purchasing and consumption, proper storage, donations, and portion control, all of which play vital roles both at the individual level and within larger sectors, such as the HORECA.
Moreover, community initiatives that encompass education, legislation, and support for sustainable practices prove to be effective measures. Simultaneously, the development of technological solutions for waste tracking and reduction holds great promise. Collaboration among individuals, businesses, policymakers, and innovators remains crucial in collectively addressing this issue. Both minor shifts in consumer habits and systemic improvements can notably contribute to mitigating packaging and food waste.
But what steps can be taken once the waste has already been generated and is in circulation?
LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 is a pioneering pilot project funded by the European Commission’s LIFE Programme, with a budget exceeding 970,000 EUR. This initiative primarily targets organic waste management to produce biogas and biofertilizers for agricultural purposes.
The technology behind it focuses on generating green energy within sewage treatment plant digesters by blending various putrescible organic waste materials such as slurry, poultry, organic fractions, MSW, HORECA, etc. This process effectively converts sewage sludge into renewable energy. Led by Global Omnium in Spain, in collaboration with the Finnova Foundation in Belgium and Águas do Centro Litoral in Portugal, the initiative aims to establish itself as the most adaptable digestion control tool available, fostering both environmental and economic advantages through optimal waste utilization to produce biogas.
By employing this technology, the project significantly curtails greenhouse gas emissions and maximizes the use of sewage sludge derived from wastewater treatment processes, thus creating a positive environmental impact.
This project serves as a model for promoting resource sustainability through waste reuse and the generation of renewable energy.
Biogas, along with other renewable energy sources, plays a critical role in diversifying the energy landscape, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and diminishing reliance on non-renewable energy sources. These efforts align with the latest European Union directives evident in legislations like the REPowerEU plan and The European Green Deal.
Furthermore, in alignment with the principles of the circular economy, the resulting sludge from this process can be utilized in biofertilizer production, ultimately supporting sustainable agriculture, and ensuring food security.