Food waste conversion to biomethane within the reach of four cities across Europe

June 1, 2018, CORDIS
Food waste conversion to biomethane within the reach of four cities across Europe
Credit: Pixavril, Shutterstock

Food waste conversion to biomethane is now within the reach of four cities across Europe, thanks to work conducted under the Bin2Grid project.

The 88 million tonnes of food wasted every year in the EU cost the trifling sum of EUR 143 billion. With that in mind, it's easy to understand why food waste valorisation has become a political priority. New concepts and technologies keep emerging on a regular basis, notably thanks to EU funding under Horizon 2020.

Bin2Grid is one of these initiatives. For two years, the project promoted the segregated collection of , its conversion to biogas and the latter's upcycling into biomethane. The point? Supplying local fuelling stations in the cities of Zagreb, Skopje, Malaga and Paris, and help make biomethane a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

"None of these target cities had implemented the concept of waste-to-biofuel prior to Bin2Grid," says Bojan Ribić, coordinator of the project on behalf of Zagreb City Holding. Drawing inspiration from pioneer cities like Barcelona, Lille and Vienna, consortium members recommended specific activities to decision-makers; issued reports, guidelines and feasibility studies; and provided examples of best practices.

In Paris, for instance, the project found that biogas implementation had been accelerating lately, pushed by national objectives and ambitions to ban diesel fuel altogether. However, the consortium deplored among other things the limited number of refuelling stations, their lack of interoperability, limited car buying options, and higher maintenance cost. They concluded that new partnerships between stakeholders to better balance supply and demand – along with other measures such as a favourable tax regime – could considerably boost the sector and worked hard to make them happen.

"The concrete implementation of our proposed solutions at the local level was one of the main challenges we had to face. To overcome this challenge, we included all relevant value chain stakeholders in the development of our concepts, from inception phase until the end of the project," Ribić points out.

Two key sectors were specifically targeted: waste management and , with the aim of bridging existing gaps between the two. The consortium analysed existing technologies related to biowaste separation and treatment, biogas production and upgrade, as well as biomethane utilization. Then, they investigated possible economic tools to increase the profitability of the proposed concept.

"Our dedicated tools can assist stakeholders in the setup of sustainable waste management combined with renewable energy production in local communities. One example is an Excel-based benchmark tool which compares organic waste in the biomethane value chain with other waste treatment value chains such as landfilling, composting and incineration. This tool was already applied to seven cities," Ribić explains.

Moreover, the project's biomethane tool – which provides an idea of economic conditions around , gas upgrading and utilisations of biomethane – can be used to estimate investment, operating and initial of costs of different facilities.

All in all, the project has significantly contributed to ongoing discussions on how to make the waste sector more sustainable at the international, EU, national and local levels. Now that it has come to an end, consortium members plan to keep disseminating project outcomes and results. "We strongly believe that our proposed concept is the most sustainable solution regarding for the management of biowaste and its usage as a biofuel," Ribić says.

Explore further: Renewable energy initiative moving to turn wastewater into fuel

Related Stories

How to profit from biowaste

April 16, 2018

ETH Zurich and Eawag researchers are developing a method to produce animal feed from biowaste products. This is one of 14 projects in the Engineering for Development programme funded by the Sawiris Foundation over the past ...

Energy recovery of urban waste

May 2, 2018

The use of urban waste for energy creation, especially the use of technologies based in gasification, is presented as a more sustainable alternative than controlled dumping at a tip.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.