From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy

On 27 January 2022, the event “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy” will take place, organised by Cetaqua and FEUGA in the framework of the innovation projects Ecoval Sudoe and WALNUT.

This meeting aims to explore the concept of biofactories and present the technical advances of both projects. In addition, the social, legal, and market barriers for the valorisation of high added value products for agriculture and industry, such as sludge or biofertilisers obtained from waste flows from urban water treatment plants, will be discussed.

Here you can consult the program of the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with presentations and round tables to reflect on the essential value of water in the transition to a circular economy. The main parts of the day are:

  • Part I: past, present, and future of biofactories.
  • Part II: legislative barriers/transfer for the implementation of biofactories
  • Part III: end-users of biofactory by-products.

The event will be broadcast by Zoom with English translation. The capacity of the virtual event is limited. Registration will close when the maximum number of registrations is reached. Don’t miss it, register here!

 

How to overcome bottlenecks for the valorisation of biowaste and sludge-based products?

The model that the Ecoval Sudoe project aims to promote involves a paradigm shift: from wastewater treatment stations to biofactories. A change of model, from linear to circular and a change of concept: waste for resources. However, it is not enough to test new technologies for the valorisation of resources categorised as waste; innovation has to go hand by hand with the acceptance of the business model. This is why the project is launching a series of workshops in which different experts will answer the question: how to overcome the barriers for the valorisation of biowaste and sewage sludge?  

The first of the workshops was on 2 December, from 11:00 and 13:30, with the participation of Spanish experts who presented and discussed the barriers they have identified from their experience with bio-waste and sewage sludge, as well as proposals to overcome them. Therefore, the conference, led by Laura Díez and Inés Méndez, technicians of the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, was attended by:

With the interaction of all participants, the debate on the main legal and administrative barriers to the valorisation of bio-waste and sewage sludge was led by the following speakers:

  • Daniel Ruíz, Grupo Valora, a company specializing in the treatment, recovery and exploitation of waste that can be used for agricultural and forestry purposes, in particular substrate, fertilisers and technosoils.
  • Inmaculada Sanz, FCC, an expert group in environmental, water and infrastructure.
  • Luz Panizo, Aquona, an environmental company that focuses its activity on integral water cycle services.

Stay tuned, this workshop is the first one and focuses on the situation and experience in Spain, but further dates will be announced to analyse the situation in Portugal and France as well. 

A new bin, are you in? – Ecoval Sudoe

Very soon, brown containers will be another element of our streets, a path towards a more circular and environmentally friendly economy. But what is organic waste and what waste should we dispose of in the new brown container?

In the framework of the European Week for Waste Reduction, the Ecoval Sudoe project launches a communication campaign to: 

  • Raise awareness of the need to reduce the waste we generate.
  • Raise awareness of the importance of correct waste separation.
  • Inform about the type of waste that should be disposed of in the brown container.
  • Inform about the environmental benefits of the correct separation and recycling of organic waste.

The campaign will also raise awareness about the incorrect use of the toilet as a waste bin. In order to minimise the waste that is improperly flushed, Ecoval will raise awareness of the consequences of improper toilet use. The most immediate impact would be clogged pipes, but water pollution and environmental degradation are also a direct consequence. It will therefore be explained:

  • Waste that should not be flushed down the toilet
  • The environmental consequences of flushing waste down the toilet

The campaign will run in Spain, France, and Portugal – with content generated in all 3 languages – and will consist of animation videos and testimonial videos, quizzes, and infographics with the aim of raising awareness of correct waste separation and increasing citizens’ commitment to recycling. Different activities will also be organised in schools, where the sharing of the content generated for this campaign will be encouraged.

Join our campaign!

Biofactories and water reuse: Aquona shares its best practices at the 1st Castilla y León Circular Bioeconomy Forum

The European Interreg ECOVAL project that will turn the Palencia wastewater treatment plant into a biofactory is one of the proposals that Aquona’s Director of Sustainable Development, Laura de Vega, shared at the 1st Circular Bioeconomy Forum of Castilla y León that took place in Soria on 27th and 28th October. 

29th October 2021- The circular economy has become a key paradigm for water to be an engine that accelerates the ecological transition and contributes to overcoming the demographic challenge.  This requires innovative proposals from administrations and companies such as Aquona, which manages “the sustainable water cycle in 130 municipalities in Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León with a low-carbon model and a commitment to digitalisation and technology to apply solutions based on the circular economy”, said Laura de Vega, the company’s Director of Sustainable Development.

This was highlighted by De Vega at the 1st Circular Bioeconomy Forum of Castilla y León, which was held in Soria on 27th and 28th October. Specifically, Aquona‘s Director of Sustainable Development participated in the workshop on best practices and innovation projects in circular bioeconomy together with Luis Francisco Martín, ReFood Commercial Technician in the central area of Spain of the Saria Group; Ángela Osma, General Secretary of the Spanish Association of Compostable Biodegradable Plastics; Jorge Miñón, Founding Partner of Agrae Solutions S.L. and María Pilar Bernal, President of the Spanish Composting Network and Research Professor at CEBAS-CSIC.

“The circular bioeconomy in the water cycle” was the name of Aquona’s presentation in which it shared the projects in this area that the company is promoting. One of the first lines of action discussed was the transformation of wastewater treatment plants into biofactories, a process in which the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Palencia that Aquona manages is currently involved. The plant’s thermal utilisation rate is already 100% and its energy self-sufficiency is 65%. In addition, “100% of the sludge produced in the treatment process is recovered and used in agriculture”, said Laura de Vega, adding that the “recovery of sand for use as compost” or as filler material in construction sites and ditches is also being tackled. As for water reuse, “part of the treated water is being used to irrigate gardens,” said De Vega. The protection of biodiversity and the involvement of the local community close the cycle in this transformation process.

In addition, the Palencia WWTP is one of the application scenarios of the European Interreg ECOVAL project. With a budget of 1.4 million euros, this initiative is based on the recovery of sludge and solid urban waste to obtain high added value volatile fats for the plastics, lubricants and agrochemical industries.  The Junta de Castilla y León, Palencia City Council and Aquona, together with other partners, promote the project coordinated by CETAQUA, the water technology centre of Agbar, the group to which Aquona belongs.

Circularity in the field of energy can be found in León, where Aguas de León, a mixed company owned by Aquona and the City Council of León, manages the municipal water service and is promoting the Life Nexus project that will generate micro-hydroelectric energy and promote its storage.

This firm commitment to innovation and the company’s circular economy has the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as its roadmap, where alliances “between all stakeholders are essential to multiply the impact of actions”, says Laura de Vega. In the same way, the 2030 Agenda is the guide to achieve a green, sustainable and inclusive reconstruction after the pandemic in which the Next Generation Recovery Funds “are an opportunity to promote the circular economy, propose solutions to climate change and address the needs of digitalisation, supply, sanitation and purification that help us to unite the territory and put an end to depopulation”, she concluded.

Ecoval participates in the Innovation Days event in Galicia

In the framework of the Galicia Innovations Days event, which took place from 25th to 29th of October, the ECOVAL Sudoe project was presented in the session “The fourth decade of Interreg in Galicia”. This round table about the evolution, successes and opportunities of Interreg in Galicia took place on the first day of the event at 16h.

This session presented the history of Interreg (European Territorial Cooperation), milestones and success stories in Galicia.

The session speakers were: Dirk Peters, Senior Expert for European territorial cooperation, EGTC and ECBM (European Commission); María José Mariño, Director Area of Centres (Axencia Galega de Innovación); Xosé Lago, Poctep Coordinator at the Subdirección Xeral de Acción Exterior e de Cooperación Transfronteiriza (Xunta de Galicia); Nuria Rodriguez Aubo, Innovation and Technology Transfer at FEUGA (Galician Enterprise-University Foundation).

Representing FEUGA, Nuria Rodriguez Aubo, presented the work areas and the Interreg projects developed which FEUGA takes part. In reference to Ecoval SUDOE, the objectives, partners and functions that FEUGA develops in the project, which are dissemination, communication and technology transfer, were presented.

ECOVAL was also present in the exhibition area of the event, together with other Interreg projects, thus reinforcing networking and visibility.

 

Galicia Innovations Days  

The Galicia Innovations Days is an event organised by FEUGA, the Galician Ministry of Education (Xunta de Galicia) and the Galician University System, that brings together companies, researchers, universities, investors and consultants from different European countries and abroad.

12th Urban Intelligence and Sustainability Forum – GreenCities

Thanks to one of our associated partners, Aquona, Ecoval‘s name was present during the 12th Urban Intelligence and Sustainability Forum – GreenCities, on 29 September in Málaga.

This event brought together key opinion leaders in the field of urban management and the mobility of the future in the same space. During two days, the Palacio de Ferias y Congresos de Málaga was packed with ideas and case studies related to sustainability, innovation and circular economy, sharing knowledge, synergies and talent.

Laura de Vega Franco, Director of Sustainable Development at Aquona, participated in the round table organised by the Sustainable Development Department of the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, entitled “The 2030 Agenda from global to local, praxis in Circular Economy, Energy Transition and Digitalisation”. It was here that the ECOVAL project was presented and where it was ensured that “companies, in addition to sustainability, contribute to innovation and digitalisation of the commitment to the circular economy and to the promotion of the 2030 Agenda in the territory”.

29S. International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Just by doing a little five-minute research on food waste, you can realise that the figures are alarming.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 14% of the food produced is lost between harvest and retail, and 17% of total production is wasted in households, food services and retail trade.

It is clear that a truly sustainable future requires a major reduction in food losses and food waste, but what to do with the leftovers?

Currently, food waste accounts for 38% of total energy use in the global food system. Typically, these wastes are deposited in landfills where they generate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

This is where ECOVAL vision comes in. We are committed to a resilient future, in which good organic waste management allows the implementation of a circular consumption model, transforming organic waste into volatile fatty acids and fertilisers. In this way, the energy used to generate the discarded food goes on to favour the growth of others.

If you are interested in being part of this change, do not hesitate to follow us. In addition, you can see all the activities taking place as part of the global virtual event of the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction on the FAO website. You will be able to get in-depth information and insights from experts on this issue.

Many of us have already joined the change, take action.

ECOVAL joined CEMOWAS2 final webinar

On the occasion of CEMOWAS2 project’s final webinar, ECOVAL participated in a round table on the circular economy, recovery of organic waste and reuse of wastewater. On days 21st and 22nd of September, experts of this field shared actions taken, results obtained and knowledge acquired, as well as discuss new initiatives which are being carried out within the framework of the Interreg Sudoe Program.

On the first day of the webinar, from 10 am to 13 pm (CET), the partners of CEMOWAS2 presented their main results and their new platform to help decisions.

On the second day, at the same time, there were two round tables shared by research experts from Cerema (France), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), and the Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (Portugal), as well as participants of ongoing Interreg Sudoe programs, such as ECOVAL. The project coordinator, Antón Taboada, Cetaqua, representing the consortium, was in charge of presenting ECOVAL, explaining how the project was born and the different activities that have been carried out since its beginning, in November 2020.

A simultaneous interpretation in French, Spanish and Portuguese was available during the two days.

The main conclusion reached was that “we all have to be involved”. Regarding waste management, it is essential to raise awareness and sensitize people, because without their participation it is impossible to have an effective waste management. In fact, this is the current challenge, it is necessary to adopt strategies to raise awareness and involve citizens in this issue, because there are objectives and goals to achieve that without their involvement are impossible to achieve. We all have an important role in waste management!

Ecoval will participate in the European Researchers’ Night

European Researchers’ Night (ERN) will take place on 24 September, an event celebrating the diversity of science and the impact it has on people’s daily lives. The ERN, funded by the European Commission, is included within the Marie Skłodowska-Marie Actions, aimed at developing research talent.

On that Friday, across the European continent, a number of activities will take place with the aim of bringing science closer to citizens, raising awareness of the different research projects being carried out in Europe, and increasing interest in science among young people. 

On the event’s website, you can consult the activities that will be held in person in each country, so you can come and meet the researchers in person or sign up for competitions, games, and exhibitions.

ECOVAL will participate in the European Researchers Showcase, an online event within the ERN, which will transmit through Twitter, videos of less than 2 minutes in which researchers from all areas will show in a fun way what their work consists of and what projects they are developing. The responsible for explaining the foundations and objectives of ECOVAL to the European public will be Ander Castro, a researcher at CETAQUA, coordinating partner of the project. Don’t miss it!