• The European project will promote the biofactory model to obtain high value-added bio-products from sewage sludge and urban biowaste, replicable throughout the European Union
  • 8 entities from Spain, France and Portugal make up the consortium to promote an innovative circular model for organic waste management in cities.

The management of urban organic waste currently presents challenges to be addressed, such as minimizing landfill or increasing recycling. To meet this challenge, Cetaqua Galicia continues its commitment to the circular economy by leading the ECOVAL project of the Interreg Sudoe 2014-2020 program. Its main objective is to obtain high added value products rich in organic carbon, such as volatile fatty acids, from the valorization of organic waste generated in urban environments. The project will boost the circular economy by promoting waste reduction and environmental protection through the conversion of waste into resources highly demanded by the plastics, lubricants or agrochemical industries.

ECOVAL, an acronym for “Coordination strategies for the management and valorization of sludge and organic waste in the SUDOE region”, will be financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will run until 2023. Underway since November, the consortium has held this week, in virtual format, the kick-off meeting to coordinate the different actions to be undertaken.

Transnational cooperation to promote a new environmental management model

To develop this model of environmental management of organic matter, Cetaqua will be accompanied by partners from the SUDOE region (Spain, Portugal and the French Trans-Pyrenean districts) with experience in the different stages of the waste value chain who will provide the necessary skills to ensure the viability of the model. These are the University of Santiago de Compostela, the Natural Heritage Foundation of Castilla y León, the Galician Enterprise-University Foundation, the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Toulouse, Nereus, Aguas do Tejo Atlantico and the Empresa Municipal de Ambiente do Porto.

In addition, up to 29 entities from the same region have committed to the project and will participate as partners. These range from public administrations, such as the Xunta de Galicia, the Junta de Castilla y León and the City Council of Palencia, to users of bio-based end products such as REPSOL, including producers of highly usable organic waste such as Vegalsa-Eroski.

The consortium will work from the collection of the waste to the commercialization of the final product, through the development of innovative biotechnological processes and integrating multidisciplinary aspects of legislative, economic, market, environmental or social perception. ECOVAL focuses on valorizing mainly two types of waste streams: urban sewage sludge and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (FORSU), both with a high organic carbon content. Thus, it will work to optimize and create synergies between the urban water cycle and the waste cycle. In the latter, it will not only optimize collection, promoting separation at source, in line with new legislative requirements, but also generate a new value chain, which in turn minimizes odor problems and the costs associated with its collection and management.

Area of implementation: towards a circular economy by promoting biofactories

In this way, an innovative waste management model that can be replicated throughout the European Union will be promoted in the cities of the Sudoe area.

Specifically, in Spain, Cetaqua will implement, together with the Suez Group, demonstrations in technological platforms located in the cities of Ourense, in collaboration with Viaqua, and in Palencia, with the support of Aquona, to valorize urban sludge and organic waste in order to obtain high added-value products. In this way, it promotes the biofactory model that aims to transform wastewater treatment plants into resource-generating facilities. O Porto (Portugal) will be the first case study modeled for the optimization of biowaste management at city level and its subsequent replicability in the cities of Palencia and Toulouse.

The environmental impact of this project will be remarkable since, only in the area covered by the project, 136 kg of organic waste per capita per year are generated, thus being able to follow new alternative ways of treatment so that these wastes can be used as resources.