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.

7 April: “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy”

After the postponement in January, the event “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy“, organised by Cetaqua and FEUGA in the framework of the innovation projects Ecoval Sudoe and WALNUT, is back. It will take place on 7 April in both on-site and online formats.

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 full programme of the event, which runs from 10:00 to 17:00, with presentations and round tables to reflect on the essential value of water in the transition to a circular economy. The blocks in which the day is divided are:

  • Block I: past, present and future of biofactories.
  • Block II: legislative/transfer barriers to the implementation of biofactories.
  • Block III: end-users of biofactory by-products.
  • Final block: round table.

After a morning of debate and participation, there will be a break for lunch and at 15:30 there will be a visit to the Ourense biofactory, where you can learn about the different water treatment processes.

The event will also be broadcast on Zoom with English translation. The capacity of both the on-site and virtual event is limited, and registration will close when the maximum number of participants is reached. Don’t miss out, register here!

ECOVAL joins the Green Project Expo platform

Ecoval Sudoe is now part of the Green Project Expo (GPE), an international platform created to connect and communicate innovative projects from different economic sectors that seek to build a more sustainable world. It serves as a large-scale digital exhibition to reach a wide audience, create and disseminate events or make contacts.

 

Green Project Expo brings together various projects from all kinds of industries, from water treatment to transport or health, energy efficiency, technology, forest management, agriculture, oil and gas or smart cities. ECOVAL is included in the “Bio-waste and CO2” category, where it shares space with Biomotive, FRONTSH1P or Grøn Sky, favouring the creation of networks between projects with common interests.

 

ECOVAL’s presence in this new digital space that functions as a loudspeaker brings it closer to achieving its communication and dissemination objectives. Belonging to this platform offers a great opportunity for the project in terms of visibility, impact, development of synergies and networking. Check here ECOVAL’s page on GPE or take a look at its Twitter and Linkedin!

Women’s push for SDG 6: clean water and sanitation for all

Every February 11, since 2016, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated. To commemorate it, the United Nations organizes its seventh assembly with the aim of enhancing the role of women as active agents, not only as beneficiaries, in scientific and technological advances that lead us towards a more sustainable and egalitarian future.

Although progress has been made in recent years, women are still underrepresented in STEM. They account for 33.3% of researchers, hold less than a quarter of decision-making positions in educational institutions, represent only 28% of engineering graduates and tend to have shorter and lower-paid careers than their male colleagues, according to UN data. Gender equality, in addition to being a fundamental human right, is essential to meet the complex scientific, ecological and technological challenges of tomorrow with full human potential and sustainable development.

 

Water is the key to life

The theme of this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”. It aims to put the spotlight on the millions of people who, according to UN reports, will be without access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services by 2030. The causes will be increased demand and poor management of water resources, aggravated by climate change.

The Assembly will bring together scientists and experts from around the world at UN headquarters to discuss the nexus of water in achieving the three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social justice and environmental integrity. It aims to accelerate the achievement of the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to ensure water availability, sanitation and sustainable water management for all.

ECOVAL is also working in these directions with the reuse of sewage sludge to create high value-added bio-products such as volatile fatty acids. It is estimated that each year, sewage treatment plants in the Sudoe region generate around 1,300,000 tons of water waste that could have a second life thanks to ECOVAL.

Vanesa Paramá, a research biologist at Cetaqua’s pilot plant, who is working to give sludge a second life in line with the circular economy in the water sector, tells us about it. Thanks to her and other researchers, the ECOVAL project is a solid reality.

Anyone who wants to follow the conversation online can use the hashtags #WomenInScience and #February11. For more information you can visit the following website or the program of the event.

 

Brown containers arrives at Ourense schools thanks to the Ecoval Sudoe project

  • Ourense Town Council and Viaqua promote the participation of a school from Ourense in the ECOVAL project for the revalorization of organic waste
  • CEIP of Seixalbo will contribute the waste from its school dinning room to the pilot plant located at the Ourense WWTP

The Ecoval Sudoe project, strategies for the management, coordination and recovery of sludge and organic waste in the SUDOE region, enters a new phase in 2022. After successfully illustrating the technology for converting sewage sludge into volatile fatty acids, compounds that are converted into products such as paints, lubricants or adhesives in the chemical and petrochemical industry, the Ourense Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) will now change its raw material to recover selectively collected organic waste taken from the containers recently installed at the Seixalbo school in Ourense.

In this way, the school canteen has become a supplier of the raw material to be used by the pilot plant to obtain volatile fatty acids. Moreover, the establishment is also involved in the environmental education campaign “Another container, a brown one!”, the goal of which is to raise the awareness of youngsters as to the importance of the correct separation of waste, with an emphasis on the fifth container and the characteristics of organic waste. The CEIP Seixalbo is a public school in the municipality of Ourense that is very involved in raising environmental awareness among its students, with the organization of workshops on the correct separation of waste, the creation of a school garden, composting activities and now participation in this European research project.

Representatives from Cetaqua, the leader of the project, from the Department of Education of the City Council of Ourense and Viaqua, came in person to the school to present the project and lay the foundations for collaboration. In adition to Cetaqua, representatives from the Ourense Town Council and Viaqua, official partners committed to supporting and promoting the initiative, also attended, positioning the town of Ourense and its waste treatment plant in particular as a reference benchmark in the commitment to the development of green technologies and the circular economy.

Castile and Leon, represented in the project by the Natural Heritage Foundation, together with the Palencia Town Council and Aquona, who also support the initiative, will also be involved in the supply of organic waste through schools as a means of raising awareness as to the importance of caring for the environment while promoting the biofactory model.

The importance of the Ecoval approach

Each individual in the Sudoe region, which encompasses the Spanish autonomous communities (with the exception of the Canary Islands), the south-western regions of France, the mainland regions of Portugal, Gibraltar and the Principality of Andorra, generates 136kg of organic waste a year. This results in the generation of 11 million tons of organic waste a year, 9 million of which are food remains. Currently, 65% of this organic waste is incinerated or dumped in landfills due to the limited use of selective collection processes.

Since the project was launched in November 2020, Ecoval has paved the way for the arrival of brown containers, which should have been installed in all European cities by late 2023. Thanks to the approach promoted by the project, bio-waste will be returned to the economic cycle, thereby contributing to the European Union goal to recycle 65% of municipal waste by the year 2035.

In addition to the aforementioned partners, Santiago de Compostela University, the Galician Business-University Foundation, the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Toulousse, Nereus, Aguas do Tejo Atlantico and the Municipal Environment Company of Porto are all taking part in this challenge. The joint venture, co-financed by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund, also enjoys the support of 31 associated partners.

2nd “Overcoming barriers in the recovery of WWTP sludge and bio-waste” workshop

The Ecoval Sudoe project is a shift in paradigm: from wastewater treatment plants to biofactories. A change of model, from linear to circular, and a change of concept: waste for resources. However, the testing of new technologies for the recovery of resources classified as waste up to now is not enough in itself. Innovation needs to go hand in hand with the acceptance of the business model. To this end, the project is organising a series of workshops in which different specialists answer the question: how can we overcome the barriers in the recovery of bio-waste and WWTP sludge?

The workshop held on January 18, the second in the project, was attended by 16 specialists from the Sudoe Region (Portugal, Spain and France), from sanitation and waste management entities, research centres, environmental authorities, legal consultants and sectoral associations. This event was organised by Águas do Tejo Atlântico with the collaboration of CETAQUA, Porto Ambiente, NEREUS, FEUGA and the Foundation for the Natural Heritage of Castile and Leon.

After the presentation of the project, experts from the three countries shared their experiences on the management of WWTP sludge and bio-waste, the use of value-added products (volatile fatty acids, for example) and waste declassification mechanisms. Forums were then created for each country, where the specific requirements of each Member State were addressed.

The session ended with an analysis of potential synergies in the Sudoe region and the presentation of the main conclusions of the first workshop.

The main barriers identified by the experts include:
– A lack of end-of-waste status criteria for volatile fatty acids produced from WWTP sludge and bio-waste.
– Complicated and time-consuming end-of-waste status processing.
– The absence of a common legal framework for all the Member States undermines the creation of an EU internal market.
– Difficulties in guaranteeing the quality of municipal biological waste from selective collection.

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