From organic waste of urban origin to valuable bio-based products: the urban biowaste biorefinery
The Sapienza Research Centre for Applied Sciences for the Safeguard of Environmental and Cultural Heritage (CIABC) will be coordinating European Project RES URBIS (REsources from URban Bio-Waste), a research and innovation programme that aims to develop an innovative technological sector for the integrated exploitation of various organic waste materials of urban origin (municipal trash and excess sludge from urban wastewater).
The project aims to convert this type of urban waste into bioplastic for the packaging industry (biodegradable films and composites), consumer goods (computers, tablets and telephone chassis) and environmental remediation (controlled release of materials for contaminated underground springs).
The project, which has a 3 million euro budget for 3 years from the European Community under the Horizon 2020 programme (call 2016-2017), has become part of the research and innovation actions specifically focused on promoting a circular economy. It focuses on a double objective, minimizing the amount of disposable waste and creating new bio- and eco-compatible products using waste as an alternate renewable resource to petroleum.
Marco Majone, from the Department of Chemistry of Sapienza University of Rome, Project Coordinator, underlines that “the potential application impact of RES URBIS is very high, considering that more than 300 million Europeans live in urban or metropolitan areas and that each one of them produces on average around 100 grams of organic waste, with very limited recovery and conversion".
The positive environmental, economic and occupational outcomes that can result from new technologies that allow the transformation of this organic waste into useful products with effective market value are self-evident. At the same time, the project aims to develop these technologies to integrate existing wastewater and waste treatment. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, 21 partners are participating in the initiative, including universities, companies, associations and public administrations from 8 European countries.