Turning urban waste streams into added value products for cities

EU member states have committed to a 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030. Replacing 30% of existing petroleum-based products with bio-based versions could help reduce GHG emissions by up to 50% and support the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

As part of the transition towards a post-petroleum society, bio-based industries, which use renewable biological resources for the production of bio-based products and biofuel, offer a unique opportunity to establish sustainable, innovative and competitive value chains, thereby decoupling economic growth from resource depletion and negative environmental impacts.

Bringing together pan-European and cross-sector industries, large companies, SMEs, research organisations, universities, regions, and countries, through projects like CIRCULAR BIOCARBON, the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) was established in 2014, and aims to implement the Strategic Innovation & Research Agenda (SIRA), developed by industry in collaboration with the EU. Operating under Horizon 2020, BBI JU was designed to realise a bio-based economy for Europe.

Creating a first-of-its-kind flagship biorefinery in Europe

CIRCULAR BIOCARBON is a first-of-its-kind flagship biorefinery designed to turn the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) and sewage sludge (SS) into high added-value end products, including: plastic moulding tools, mechanical moving parts, direct consumer products, night vision cameras, devices for 5G telecommunications, bags for biowaste collection, biodegradable in soil mulch films, liquid microalgae biostimulant fertiliser or solid organ-mineral fertiliser with biostimulant properties.

The biorefinery will be operated for three years in Spain and Italy, and will use a pool of technologies, start from anaerobic process steps (after proper pre-treatment) of mixed urban waste streams, in order to treat all the biowaste produced by a medium-size city. At the end of the project, a commercial scale biorefinery will be in full operation.

The project will set the basis for the demonstration, at commercial level, of the feasibility of a biorefinery as a new waste treatment model for cities. It will open up the market for new products and new business frameworks based on a circular vision of waste treatment in a cities and help pave the way towards a sustainable bioeconomy.

Interested in finding out more?

Join our city interest group

Alongside the two host cities, the CIRCULAR BIOCARBON will recruit five to ten cities to join the City Interest Group. Members of this group will have the opportunity to take part in four project-funded study visits, peer-to-peer exchanges, and gain insider knowledge on breakthrough innovations in the field of biowaste valorisation.

Take part in our workshops & webinars

During the project, two replication and training workshops will take place, focused on the challenges associated with implementing new life-cycle and sustainability assessment tools and approaches to planning in a local government setting. In addition, a series of three webinars on replication of the CIRCULAR BIOCARBON approach will be organised bringing in other topic-related projects, as well to share progress and results, and encourage exploitation.

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Those who are interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and opportunities, as part of this European flag-ship project, can sign up to receive a newsletter below.

Partners involved 

  • Urbaser S.A.U. (Coordinator)
  • Socamex, S.A.U. 
  • CAP Holding S.p.A. 
  • CemeCon Scandinavia A/S 
  • Graphenea Semiconductor S.L.U. 
  • Novamont S.p.A. 
  • Agro Innovation International 
  • ICLEI European Secretariat GMBH 
  • BETA Technological Center in UVic-UCC
  • Universidad de Valladolid 
  • Università Politecnicadelle Marche

This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking(JU) under grant agreement No 101023280. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio Based Industries Consortium