ECOVAL, the innovation project that positions Galicia as a benchmark in circular waste management

Etienne Paul, Insa Toulouse; Javier Bobe, Diputación de Ourense ; Almundeja Hospido, USC; Rita Lourinho, ADTA; Sagrario Pérez, Xunta de Galicia; Gabriel Alén, Xunta de Galicia; Iván José Vicente, Viaqua; Ángela Muñiz, FEUGA; Luis Assunçao, Portoambiente; Teresa Alvarño, Cetaqua Galicia; Jesús Díez, Fundación Patrimonio Natural Castila y León.


  • The European ECOVAL project, led by Cetaqua, celebrates the final results presentation event.
  • The event brought together more than 70 representatives from public administrations, universities and companies to discuss the potential of water in the circular economy.


The ECOVAL-SUDOE innovation project, led by Cetaqua and co-financed by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), held this morning the final event Towards a circular management of urban bio-waste and sewage sludge. This meeting, which brought together more than 70 attendees in Ourense, served to present the results and conclusions obtained in the two and a half years of the project. Armando Ojea, deputy mayor of the City Council of Ourense, and Iván José Vicente, general director of Viaquaopened the event by highlighting the collaboration and commitment of the City Council of Ourense in research projects such as ECOVAL that allow reducing the impact of waste, turning them into resources, putting the city of Ourense on the map of innovation and circular economy.


The event symbolises the closing of the ECOVAL project, which has shown that both sewage sludge and urban biowaste are two organic streams with enormous potential for the development of biofactories. biofactories.  Compounds such as volatile fatty acids can be produced from them, which serve as renewable and sustainable raw materials in the chemical industry to obtain a wide variety of products: lubricants, paints, bioplastics or cosmetics, among others.

Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the model can be replicated in industrial environments, for example in food industries such as canning or dairy, which are of great importance in the Galician economy. Therefore, ECOVAL has been a step forward for the implementation of biofactories or biorefineries, which is key in the transition towards a circular economy that allows the generation of goods while reducing dependence on fossil resources.

With European funding of around 1.5 million euros, the project successfully scaled up the technology for the production of high purity volatile fatty acids (VFA) from sewage sludge and municipal biowaste, developed business models that enable the industrialisation of the solutions and identified the legal barriers that hinder or prevent the implementation of these models.

ECOVAL is part of an international consortium formed by the University of Santiago de CompostelaFundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, Fundación Empresa-Universidad Gallega, INSA Toulouse, NereusThe project will boost R&D&I and will position Galicia as a benchmark in Europe in terms of circular economy.



ECOVAL ends its research based on waste revalorisation

The presentations at the event were divided into three main blocks, in which leading personalities from different fields defended their commitment to transforming wastewater treatment plants into biofactories – efficient facilities for obtaining water, energy and materials – as a key element of the circular economy for the management of organic waste. The conference also analysed the past and present of urban biowaste and sewage sludge management, as well as its future prospects.


Ander Castro, Project Manager of CETAQUA


According to Ander Castro, Cetaqua’s Project Manager, “ECOVAL demonstrated the feasibility of producing volatile fatty acids with sufficient purity from a technical point of view to replace its current production from oil – and to replace it with sewage sludge and urban biowaste. However, further technological development is needed to optimise the process and to reduce the scale at which these solutions are economically profitable.

The round table, which closed the event, was moderated by Teresa Alvariño, manager of Cetaqua Galicia. It debated the future prospects for the valorisation of urban biowaste and sewage sludge from a public-private perspective, with the participation of Viaqua and Agroambthe Xunta de Galicia and the Diputación de Ourense.


Teresa Alvariño, CETAQUA; María Sagrario, Xunta de Galicia; Leticia Rodríguez, VIAQUA; Javier Bobe, Diputación de Ourense y Josefa León, Agroamb, en la mesa redonda del evento.


Leticia Rodríguez, director of Sustainable Development of Viaqua, stressed that to achieve the circularity potential of sewage sludge or biowaste, it is necessary to continue working on the development of new economic and management models where these high added value products have a place. To this end, Leticia states that “it is essential to improve collaboration, cooperation and agreement in order to achieve more stable public-private collaboration frameworks. Only in this way will we have a guarantee of success in facing the challenges that lie ahead of us”.

Gabriel Alén, delegate of the Xunta de Galicia in Ourense, closed the event and took the opportunity to highlight the opportunity to take advantage of European funds for optimal waste management, the importance of raising awareness among the population and the necessary innovation, which lands in Ourense thanks to projects such as the new VET Innovation Centre, which contains a module for the care of the natural environment.

Through projects such as ECOVAL, Cetaqua and Viaqua consolidate their commitment to biofactories as a key element to promote a circular economy model in the integral water cycle. In addition, the Ourense biofactory is also developing other R+D+i projects such as the project Biocenplasproject, which seeks to establish a sustainable model in the fish processing industry, or activities of the CIGAT Circular Joint Research Centre, which develops different strategies to decarbonise Galicia thanks to the conversion of waste into resources.

Ecoval Sudoe Final Conference: Towards a circular management of urban biowaste and sewage sludge

The final conference of the Ecoval Sudoe project (Coordination strategies for sludge and organic waste management and valorization in the SUDOE region) will take place in Ourense on March 9th, where the main results of the project, active since November 2020, will be presented.

Here you can consult the full agenda of the event, “Ecoval Sudoe: Towards a circular management of urban biowaste and sewage sludge”.

Those interested in attending can do so in person or online. The event will be held in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English for those who need it. Both in-person and online seating is limited, and registration will close when the maximum number of participants is reached. Don’t miss it, register here!

The expository part of the day will start at 10.00 am and will last until 2.00 pm, with the following blocks.

Institutional welcome and presentation of the Ecoval Sudoe project.
Talk Past and present of the management of urban biowaste and sewage sludge. Cases of Galicia and Porto region.
Proposals of the Ecoval project: biorefineries as a circular economy proposal for the management of urban organic waste.
Round table. Future perspectives for the valorization of urban biowaste and sewage sludge.
After the break for lunch and networking, those attending in person will be able to visit, from 15.30 to 17.00 hours, the Ourense biofactory, which houses the pilot plant of the project. Visitors will be able to learn first-hand about the different steps and processes used to obtain volatile acids from urban biowaste and sewage sludge. Virtual attendees will also be able to visit it through the project’s YouTube channel.

We look forward to seeing you in Ourense and also online!


ECOVAL consortium meets in Toulouse


The National Institute of Applied Sciences of Toulouse (INSA Toulouse) hosted the consortium meeting of the Ecoval Sudoe project in the same French city on Wednesday and Thursday (23 and 24 November, respectively) in order to share and present the progress achieved so far, as well as the next steps to be taken.


The kick-off was at nine o’clock in the morning, where CETAQUA made an introduction and presentation of the project, as well as its contribution to it from a biotechnological perspective to valorise organic waste. Subsequently, the rest of the actors (FEUGA, INSA TBI, NEREUS, USC BioGroup, ADTA, FPNCyL and Porto Ambiente) presented their different contributions to Ecoval Sudoe until midday, when there was a break to resume the activity in the afternoon.


On Thursday, the consortium visited the Ginestous Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Toulouse to observe first-hand how the city’s sewage sludge is currently treated. It also analysed its potential for transformation into a biofactory, as pursued by the Ecoval Sudoe model to promote a more sustainable and circular economy.


This consortium meeting is the fifth one held by the project, after the last one organised last June in the city of Porto, hosted by Porto Ambiente. In this type of events, synergies are generated between the different agents and are a key element for the proper functioning of all types of projects, even more so in the case of Ecoval Sudoe due to the multiplicity of actors, interests and challenges faced with the aim of promoting a circular and sustainable business model in a context of green transition.

ECOVAL presents its project for LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0


ECOVAL participated today in an event organised by the Finnova Foundation for the LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 project in the framework of the European Week for Waste Reduction. The main objective of this event is the dissemination of projects and organisations committed to waste management and green transition in Europe to raise awareness on sustainable management of resources and waste.

In the meeting, which took place telematically, Ecoval Sudoe presented its project, focused on the valorisation of urban organic waste for the production of high added value compounds such as Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs), together with other innovative initiatives. FEUGA, Ecoval Sudoe’s main partner in charge of communication, also participated in the presentation of the BIOMASA CAP and BIOMASA AP projects, which seek the valorisation of biomass waste through the production of biofuels.

The day began with the presentation by LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 of its project, which promotes the maximisation of biogas generation and the increase of energy self-sufficiency of wastewater treatment plants. Other participants to highlight were G2G Algae, focused on the cultivation of microalgae as a solution for the purification of polluted effluents, or LIFE INFUSION, which is responsible for the recovery of nutrients, biogas and water from polluted water.


Finnova is a European foundation that supports the financing of companies, regions or municipalities and, among its areas of expertise, includes water and waste management. In this context and as the coordinating body of LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0, it convened Ecoval Sudoe and the above mentioned innovative projects on the occasion of the European Week for Waste Reduction. This week is the biggest waste prevention awareness raising event in Europe and is therefore of paramount importance for the dissemination of Ecoval Sudoe’s activity.

Participation in events of this kind reinforces Ecoval Sudoe’s commitment to cooperation and knowledge transfer with different agents in the biotechnology sector specialising in waste treatment and the economic recovery of waste, promoting the transition towards a more sustainable and circular society.

ECOVAL organises a waste collection on Tambo Island as part of Let’s Clean Up Europe 2022 campaign


On the 15th of November, the ECOVAL SUDOE project will carry out a waste collection campaign in which second year students from Los Sauces secondary school will participate. The activity will take place in Tambo Island (Poio, Pontevedra), on the occasion of the European Week of Waste Reduction and framed in the initiative Let’s Clean Up Europe 2022, which aims to clean the largest number of sites on the European continent while raising awareness among citizens about the volume of waste present in their localities. One of the objectives of this activity from ECOVAL is to educate new generations about the importance of recycling and preserving a healthy and clean environment, as well as to join forces between different groups to generate synergies around the project.


The event, jointly organised by FEUGA and CETAQUA with the collaboration of VIAQUA and the Council of Poio will start at 9:30 am and, after the cleaning of the island, those responsible for the activity will give a talk on the importance of the correct separation of waste at source and the brown bin for organic matter, without which the ECOVAL project could not be carried out. Indeed, proper waste separation is essential for innovation and economic projects to be carried out, as organic waste and sewage sludge are the raw material on which the ECOVAL Sudoe project feeds, transforming this waste into high added value products such as Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs), valuable resources for the plastics and agrochemical industries.


Back on land, the students will finally visit the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) of Os Praceres (Pontevedra), managed by Viaqua, where the key process of urban wastewater treatment will be explained to the students, emphasizing the individual responsibility of each citizen in this project and the benefits it brings to society as a whole. It is vitally important that young people are aware of this process and, consequently, of the problems caused by improperly flushing waste down the toilet, such as clogged sewers and treatment plants and the degradation of the oceans’ wealth.


This activity is included in ECOVAL’s awareness campaign on the separation of organic waste aimed at the new generations, joining those previously carried out in six schools in Castilla y León by the Natural Heritage Foundation of Castilla y León, as well as the four carried out by FEUGA and CETAQUA in four schools in Galicia. In this way, ECOVAL reaches the figure of approximately 450 students aware of this issue, bringing science closer to citizens and helping to build a sustainable future based on the principle of circular economy.

CETAQUA and Biogroup participate in the 17th World Conference on Anaerobic Digestion

CETAQUA and Biogroup in the AD17

The 17th World Conference on Anaerobic Digestion (AD17) was held at the University of Michigan (USA) from 17-22 June 2022. This international conference, organised by the Anaerobic Digestion Specialist Group of the International Water Association (IWA) with the support of UMICH and USC, was an event to discuss recent advances in anaerobic digestion and related processes. The theme of this edition was: “Biogas and beyond: Expanding applications of anaerobic biotechnologies in a circular economy“. This theme highlights the evolving field of anaerobic biotechnologies, which play an increasingly important role in a circular (bio)economy.


The programme included pre-conference workshops, plenary and keynote speakers, a panel discussion “from research to entrepreneurship”, more than 100 oral presentations and around 100 poster presentations. All around a wide range of topics around the role of anaerobic digestion in biotechnology. Part of ECOVAL’s research has to do with optimising this process for the production of Volatile Fatty Acids at the Ourense WWTP, so Antón Taboada-Santos, researcher and Project Manager at CETAQUA, gave a talk on the influence of thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment on the production of VFAs from sewage sludge. Also present at the event was the Biogroup USC, partner of ECOVAL, with the presentation of a poster on the impact of salinity on the production of AGVs, as a result of the CONSERVAL Poctep project.


The talk by Antón Taboada, coordinator of the project, was entitled Thermal Hydrolysis Pre-treatment Has No Positive Influence On VFA Production From Sewage Sludge and took place on Monday 20 at 11:00hrs, within the block From Research to Practice: What is the best way to recover energy from sludge?, which runs the same day from 10:30 to 12:15 in the UMMA Auditorium. It was a 10-minute oral presentation with 5 minutes for questions and answers. The results presented come from the research of the team formed by Antón together with Ánder Castro, Sabela Balboa, Vanesa Paramá, Borja Álvarez, Celia Castro and Juan M. Lema.


The poster of the USC Biogroup (within the CRETUS research group) was presented on Tuesday 21 June with the identifier P58: Volatile Fatty Acid Production From Fish-canning Industry Effluents: The Impact Of Salinity. It was the result of research by Juan Iglesias-Riobó, Riccardo Bevilacqua, Miguel Mauricio-Iglesias and Marta Carballa. It was exhibited in the Michingan League Ballroom from 12:15 to 14:00 and from 17:15 to 19:00, together with the rest of the posters of the day.


AD17 was a good opportunity to raise international awareness of some of ECOVAL’s results and thus improve their communication and dissemination, in line with the project’s GT 6. The event was strongly attended by academics, utilities and consulting engineers.

CETAQUA showcases ECOVAL’s advances in sustainable waste management at CORFU

CETAQUA showcases ECOVAL's advances at CORFU

The International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management (also called CORFU 2022) took place on the Greek island of Corfu from 15-18 June. This year, in its ninth edition, it sought to address the important issue of sustainable solid waste management by promoting safe practices and effective technologies. It aimed to stimulate the interest of scientists and citizens and inform them about the latest developments in the field of municipal solid waste management. The exhibitions were located in the Municipal Theatre in the city center, but could also be viewed online, subject to prior registration and booking.


The topics discussed were closely related to the ECOVAL project and its innovations. Therefore, on Thursday 16th at 18:00hrs, Ánder Castro, researcher at CETAQUA, presented the results obtained through experimentation in the pilot WWTP of Ourense. The paper is entitled Thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment has no positive influence on VFA production from sewage sludgeand is the result of the research carried out by Ánder himself together with S. Balboa, V. Paramá, B. Álvarez, C. Castro-Barros, J.M. Lema and A. Taboada-Santos. It is part of session XV of the event, in room 3, dedicated to the waste valorisation.


More specifically, the talk dealt with the effect of sewage sludge pre-treatments (in particular the so-called thermal hydrolysis) on the production of volatile fatty acids. This knowledge is very useful to reinforce the overall objective of the conference: to go a step further in solid waste management, for which it helps a lot to learn how to achieve value-added products by applying biorefinery processes to them.


The conference was a great opportunity to brought together scientists and professionals from government departments, industry, municipalities, universities, private companies and research centres, providing a forum for the exchange of the latest ideas and techniques in the world of waste management.

ECOVAL awarded a prize in Europe for its campaign “A new bin, are you in?”

Ecoval premiado en europa ewwr

The project was distinguished with the European Special Award during the European Week for Waste Reduction Ceremony, to which more than 12,400 actions were submitted

The communication and social awareness campaign “A new bin, are you in?“, launched by the Fundación Empresa Universidad (FEUGA) within the framework of the Ecoval Sudoe project, has been recognised with the European Special Award at the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) ceremony held in Brussels.

The award was given in recognition of the campaign’s impact, its creativity and participatory nature, as well as its good use of social media. More than 12,400 actions participated in the “Circular Communities” edition of the awards promoted annually by ACR+, an international network of cities and regions that share the goal of promoting sustainable resource management and accelerating the transition to a circular economy in their territories and beyond. The “A new bin, are you in?” campaign managed to stand out and place among the 60 actions shortlisted by the jury, remain among the 16 finalists and finally achieve the distinction.


The campaign focused on raising public awareness of the importance of separating waste correctly, with a focus on organic waste, the brown bin and the incorrect use of the toilet as a waste bin.

The award was presented by Chield Berends, representative of the waste unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment. In addition to its focus on organic waste and the new brown bin, the campaign also focused on waste that should not be flushed down the toilet. Proper waste separation and correct toilet use are of vital importance for projects such as Ecoval Sudoe, which focuses on the valorisation of municipal organic waste and sewage sludge into high value-added products such as volatile fatty acids. For the innovation proposed by the project to be really put into operation, proper waste separation has to be achieved first, and this is where the importance of this type of initiative lies.

The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) is the largest waste prevention awareness campaign in Europe. Driven by local and regional public authorities, it brings together all kinds of actors – citizens, schools, businesses, NGOs, associations – who organise awareness-raising activities on waste reduction.


From organic waste to value in the New European Bauhaus Festival 2022

The ECOVAL Sudoe project is organising an official side event for the New European Bauhaus Festival 2022. It will take place on 10 June at 10:00hrs (GMT+1) and is entitled “From waste to resources: New ways to valorise organic waste“. It will provide an insight into ECOVAL Sudoe’s approach to the management of organic waste and urban sludge, as well as other related projects with which to build bridges. It will be held online, subject to registration.


The New European Bauhaus (NEB) expresses the EU’s ambition to create beautiful, sustainable and inclusive places, products and lifestyles. It promotes a new way of life where sustainability goes hand in hand with style, thus accelerating the ecological transition in various sectors of our economy. From 9 to 12 June, the festival will be held in Brussels, but also online, under the motto: Together for a beautiful and sustainable future. It combines beauty with sustainability and inclusion, along the lines of the Bauhaus. The festival has three distinct stages: the fair, live innovation exhibitions, the forum, debates on the key themes of the NEB, and the festival, which includes all kinds of activities and events such as the one organised by ECOVAL.


“From waste to resources: New ways of valorisation of organic waste” will start with a virtual visit to the Ecoval Sudoe pilot plant, where we will be able to see the process of converting organic waste and urban sludge into volatile fatty acids (VFAs). The next half hour will be followed by the section “Drawing value projects“, in which the ECOVAL project will be compared with other interesting projects that aim to tackle the same problem, but through different solutions. These are ValueWaste, which seeks to convert waste into useful bioproducts for the food or fertiliser industry, the HOOP Project, a HUB of circular platforms to promote investment in the recovery of urban biowaste and wastewater, and the ANTICIPA project, a system for monitoring and alerts on municipal waste management.

All this will be done at the same time as an illustrator tries to express graphically, live, the key points of each project and allows the public to visualise the advances that each proposal represents for our cities. A talk on the role of organic waste and sludge in the circular economy will occupy the next half hour. Finally, there will be an open slot for public participation until 12:30hrs, either through the resolution of possible doubts they may have, or through questionnaires and games developed by the projects. See the full programme here.


A healthier planet, without overburdened landfills.

The event will therefore cover the impact of organic waste and its possible solutions, both from a technical perspective, by learning about the technologies proposed by the participating projects, and from a social and legal perspective, by considering the possible barriers to overcome. In aesthetic terms, the correct separation of waste promoted by the event allows for a healthier planet, without overloaded landfills. Turning waste into valuable products allows us to benefit from the value of those products and also to achieve a less polluted, more liveable planet. The Festival provides the opportunity to share these ideas with a wide range of people, communities and organisations, increasing their visibility and impact.

Palencia’s businessmen discuss the waste management model promoted by ECOVAL

As part of the ECOVAL awareness campaign in the city of Palencia, promoted by the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, which since March has included posters on buses and bus shelters and training in schools, the Palencia Business Day took place on 16 May. The event brought together between 16:30 and 18:30 companies such as Aquona or Una mosca en mi sopa s.l. and institutions such as the City Council of Palencia. It was supported by the Palencia City Council, Aquona, the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Hotel and Catering Businesses of Palencia. The venue was the Business Incubator of the Chamber of Commerce of Palencia in Santander Avenue nº44.

The programme of the conference included different talks and you can consult it in full here. After the welcome by Laura Díez (Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León) and Ricardo Terrades (Una mosca en mi sopa s.l.), the presentation of Aquona and the circular economy in Water Management began, accompanied by tips for good water management applied to the hospitality industry, by Laura de Vega Franco, Director of Sustainable Development of Aquona. This was followed by a coffee break and a session by Gabriel Rubí, head of the Environment Service, who came as a representative of the City Council, to talk about organic matter management, the fifth container (are you in?) and the plans and forecasts for waste management for entrepreneurs. Finally, Ricardo Terrades, Creative Director of Una mosca en mi sopa s.l. and expert in gastronomic communication and sustainability, close the day talking about the beneficial results of zero waste restaurants.


If you have any questions, please contact us at: +34 687 73 13 65.