Rural and agri-industrial wastes: Valorization in new and innovative products

In the first year of the project, collaborations among Enabling partners and its stakeholders have been very promising!

During the 2nd edition Science Festival Fermhamente*, held in Fermo last October 2018, Itabia and Stiftinga Vestlandsforsking / Western Norway Research Institute (WNRI) had the opportunity to participate in the conference “Rural and agri-industrial wastes: Valorization in new and innovative products”. The conference was organized by ITT Montani di Fermo an active stakeholder of the Enabling project, in close collaboration with Fermo's Municipality.

The basic idea behind this multi-party conference was to present the recent progress achieved in the scientific field of replacing fossil fuels use in the manufacture of products, such as plastics. The use of rural and agro-industrial residues, as key-ingredients for producing Biobased products, was the central focus.

WNRI has performed a detailed analysis of rural and agro-industrial wastes from Western Norway and their potentials for use in production bio-based products.

Itabia has highlighted several European Good Practices focused on virtuous use of agricultural wastes in several innovative supply chains, from bioplastics to tires, and finally to producing biofertilizers.

The ITT Montani Institute has shared the latest progress on fossil-based plastics substitution via upcycling of the food industry to produce new composites. More in depth, they showed their concrete experiences derived from numerous laboratory experiments focused on valorizing of agro-industrial and fishing residuals towards the sustainable production of new bio-materials. ITT Montani has also analyzed the molecular fingerprint of the composites volatiles in order to demonstrate that the priority air pollutants released by fossil plastics that pose a significant public health threat are missing.

The issues addressed are in line with latest emerging political concept on circular bio-economy. The exploitation of residual wastes towards sustainable production in biodegradable biomaterials, integrated with the new concept of biorefineries, reduces the enormous environmental impact caused by the accumulation of non-biodegradable wastes, globally. This leads to avoidance of higher costs of waste disposal. At the same time, it avoids using food resources as a starting material for bio-based composites, and results in a non-food bio-based output that can be integrated with several common steps of the circular economy (bio-fuels or bio-energy pathways).

Thanks to sharing of mentioned experiences, concrete examples of which opportunities can have innovative biomaterials, what impact will have on society behaviour and potential opportunities of job and economic growth, have been presented.

Enabling Partners : Dr. Otto Andersen and Dr. Hønsi, Torunn (WNRI), Dr. Carla de Carolis (ITABIA)

Benerficiaries from ITT Montani Fermo: Prof. Teresa Cecchi and Headmaster Dr. Margherita Bonanni (ITT Montani)

 

*  https://www.comune.fermo.it/it/ElencoAttivitaFermhamente2018-UFFICIALE-pdf/ ; https://www.comune.fermo.it/it/fermhamente/

Nikos Kyriakoulis
First Enabling webinar: presentation of selected good practice examples
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On Monday, January 28, at 14:00 CET, the first ENABLING webinar will be held. The coordinator, Giorgia Noaro, will give a general introduction of the ENABLING project and its objectives, followed by the presentation of three selected good practice examples from Belgium, Italy and Bulgaria. These good practice examples show how to sustainably use biomass and biomass residues while adding value to the by-products. The webinar aims at anybody who is interested in bioeconomy, circular economy, bioeconomy projects and sustainable use of biomass residues. There will be the opportunity to ask questions to the presenters and to discuss about the topic with the other participants. The webinar will be in English. If you want to participate in the webinar, please write an e-mail to Christine Beusch: beusch@e-p-c.de, then we will send you the dial-in details.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
BiomassTrade Platform will be launched in 2019

Within the last months, EPC developed the most fundamental key legacy of the ENABLING project, the BiomassTrade Platform. This trading platform is an online venue where biomass producers and biomass processers meet to directly exchange currently unused biomass residues and by-products. The BiomassTrade Platform allows interested users to search and offer biomass residues and by-products, bio-based products as well as services in the different sectors of bioeconomy. The BiomassTrade Platform will operate EU-wide but aims to connect stakeholders on a regional level to foster the exchange of goods and services on a regional level.

Right now, the BiomassTrade Platform is in an extensive testing phase that will last several months, where its functionality is checked thoroughly. When all technical amendments are made, the platform will be translated to all ten languages that are present in ENABLING. Then, in 2019, the BiomassTrade Platform will be launched stepwise, within the duration of ENABLING it is intended to make the platform available EU-wide.

We will keep you updated!

Nikos Kyriakoulis
Meet Haspenwood: The entrepreneurship that creates products out of apple trees wood
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Every year apple farmers in Haspengouw renew about 6% of their apple plantations. They invest for around 20,000 euros per hectare in the removal of the old trees and the purchase and planting of new trees. At the same time, they are confronted with the fact that these new trees will only generate an income after 3 years.
Today about 800.000 apple trees (30.000 tons of wood) are yearly stubbed in the region of Haspengouw. Most of the wood is left somewhere beside on the field, shredded and processed in the ground, part of it is used for heating private homes where owners will get it for free when they come to collect it themselves, or sometimes it will be collected for shredding and processing into compost. This means there is a big opportunity and availability of biomass (wood of apple trees) in this region.

Haspenwood took the decision to create new (value added) products out of that wood, by buying the farmers’ grubbed trees and by valorising the intrinsic qualities of the wood.

Their products are:

  • Apple wood smoke chips and smoke planks for barbecue and smoker

  • Smoked fleur de sel, artisan cold smoked with apple wood from the low strain apple trees in Haspengouw.

  • Smoked ‘ROOK’ beer

  • Haspencubes candles and fire pit made from wood chips and paraffin

Haspencubes are considered as being one of the good practices in Belgium by using available biomass and creating value added products both for the consumer and the professional market.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
Next stop Plovdiv
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The 3rd partners’ meeting of the ENABLING project took place from 21 to 23 of November in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. National Biomass Association (BGBIOM) hosted the consortium in the Work Centre NOVIZ. There were 22 participants representing the 16 partners’ institutions. Best practices, innovation brokerage platform and coaching services were at the top of the agenda. Last day of the meeting, partners visited cosmetic company” Rosa Impex” Ltd., which is an example of good practice in the field of Bulgarian Bio-Based products.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
So, what is a good practice?
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During the 2nd project meeting, Richard van Lijssel from Darling Ingredients presented ECOSON as a good practice showcase. Let’s have a closer look into ECOSON and their approach.

Pig manure is so rich in phosphate that in the Netherlands, a country known for its intensive livestock farming, it has become the cause of a significant mineral surplus. As a result, Dutch pig farmers are legally required to find an acceptable processing solution for their excess manure. ECOSON created a solution.

ECOSON is a specialist in repurposing residuals into renewable resources. Working with local partners, they collect manure, organic food waste and swill from restaurants and food manufacturers, and use these materials to create high-quality, high-value solutions. Combining state-of-the-art technology with uniquely sustainable processes, ECOSON produces renewable electricity and renewable gas for the local energy market and organic phosphate-based fertilizer for agriculture.

ECOSON is an example of closing the loop on economic and ecological sustainability for urgent challenges in (national) agricultural sector. Through chain collaboration ECOSON is able to make a farmer’s challenge/problem an economic opportunity to combine fertilizer production for farmers abroad with renewable energy production for local society.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
Why do we collect good practices?
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On our first issue, we presented the concept of good practices. The collection and identification of these good practices is very important since it will lead us to the next milestone which is a permanent coaching service. The coaching service will be available through an online interface provided via the website, to support biomass producers or the BBP Industry (Bio-Based Products and Processes) for the uptake of emerging best practices.

Farmers and/or Biomass Industries can utilize this service to ask for advice and guidance on how to adopt ongoing good practices. Through this online platform they can connect with industrial partners and maximize business opportunities. Furthermore, they will have access to scientific and technical papers on BBPs, studies on the economic, environmental and social impact related to BBPs and they can request for legal support for future or existing BBP businesses.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
Study visit in WNRI

ENABLING project is the first step in a process that will create, structure and expand the EU Community of Biomass and BBPs stakeholders.

Within this framework, one of the stakeholders of the Italian cluster led by partner Itabia, Montani Institute, has started a collaboration with the partner Western Norway Research Institute (WNRI).

During the 1st week of September, three Italian guests from the Chemistry department of the Montani Institute (Fermo, Italy) participated in the study visit in the WNRI (Sogndal, Norway). Otto Andersen welcomed the students Ilaria Caffarini and Annalaura Luciani and their tutor Teresa Cecchi. He introduced them to the activities of the WNRI that supports local industries in the management of municipal, fishery, agro-food, and forest waste and their upcycling by using a "cradle to grave" vision. The smart disposal of bioplastic (PLA) glasses has been one of the most interesting aspects of this work experience.

The two institutes are sharing a similar approach to overcome some environmental impacts linked to the waste recycling, with a further valorization of residues. The Chemistry department of Montani Institute has created innovative pathways for the valorization of fishing and rural waste to produce bioplastics using mussel and clam shells or agro-food residues.

That shared approach is principally based on smart upcycling of agro-industrial wastes to produce new composites in order to:

(i) avoid the cost of waste disposal

(ii) reduce bio-based composites price (the high-cost prevents the take-off of this sector)

(iii) avoid taking edible resources as a starting material for bio-based composites

(iv) result in a bio-based output different from the usual ones (bio-fuels or bio-energy)

(v) reduce environmental pollution

The exchange and dissemination of best practices for the emergence of biomass value chains are crucial for a circular and sustainable economy and for a thriving bio-based sector, to kick off innovation by a promotion of biomaterials

Nikos Kyriakoulis
We met again in the Netherlands
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The 2nd project meeting of the European project ENABLING, “Enhance New Approaches in Bio-based Local Innovation Networks for Growth”, was held in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands on 29-30 May 2018.

Partner ZLTO hosted the 2nd partners’ meeting in its headquarters in Den Bosch. 

Partners discussed the status quo of the project, what has been achieved so far and what are the upcoming priorities.

The initiation of the brokerage platform and the showcase of the good practices in the website are the next immediate actions that will be realized.

We were happy and honored to have with us Richard van Lijssel from Darling Ingredients that presented ECOSON as a good practice showcase.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
What is the BBP status in my region?
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The ENABLING "Biomass Matrix Tool" has been developed to help the user in evaluating the potential and available biomass and industrial processes, considering the different bioproducts pathways.

The aim of the Biomass Matrix Tool is to give general indications on typologies and quantities of biomass that could stimulate the BioBased Products (BBP) industry sector to invest and also to identify BBP industries present either in the region, or within a sufficiently close reach, to allow the development of sustainable supply chains.

The Biomass Matrix Tool has 2 main components: a Biomass Calculation Sheet; and an Industrial Processes Sheet.

The Biomass Calculation Sheet has been designed for Enabling Partners to collect data on the most important biomass resources in selected Region(s), following the criteria:

  • availability;
  • identification of competition with other markets (feed and food);
  • industrial interests;
  • potential for higher valorisation (with or without future innovation) 

The Biomass Calculation Sheet considers quantitative aspects of biomasses and their respective extractable components (i.e. starch, fibre for BBPs).

The Industrial Processes Sheet has been designed for Enabling Partners to identify not only the technology, but also the current status of the technology (e.g. pre-pilot), the products produced, the actual process involved, the constituents used in the technology (which can then be related to the available biomass residues identified in the Biomass Calculation Sheet) and the minimum requirement (as a percentage) of the constituent contained in a biomass source for the technology / process to be viable. 

It is important to identify not only consolidated industrial players, but to also consider small and innovative young companies or entrepreneurs with the potential to stimulate innovation, knowledge transfer and the uptake of research.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
What is going on in Europe?
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In ENABLING we collect good BBP practices, from inside and outside Europe, that are wholly or partly transferable to other regions, or serve as an inspiration for partners in the value chain. Sharing this knowledge and implementing (part of) the practice in other regions drives innovation, enhances growth of the agricultural sector and biobased industry, and strengthens the transition towards a circular economy. 

These good practices show how different sources of biomass are processed and valorised into innovative biobased products, and have to some extent a positive social, economic and environmental impact. The practice should also be beneficial for practitioners (like agricultural entrepreneurs, industry, and logistic partners), in order to build a sustainable business model. 

 

Nikos Kyriakoulis
What is ENABLING?
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The ENABLING project intends to respond to the need, felt by practitioners across Europe, of improving and systematising collaboration among the different stakeholders, and in particular between the source of biomass streams, and the processing and transformation industry, or Bio-Based Industry (BBI). So far, biomass production has mainly generated input for bioenergy and biofuels, in sectors characterised by large industrial players and low labour intervention. On the other hand, the bio-materials and bio-plastics processes require higher and specialised labour, thus representing a significant potential for diversification (especially in rural areas) and job creation.

Currently, most biomass supply chains for BBPs (Bio-Based Products and Processes) do not take advantage of structured networks. Most agricultural business involved in the production of biomass for the BBPs do so in a bilateral relationship with their industrial counterpart. The lack of optimised value chains tends to penalise small rural business and tends to hinder economic development on both sides.

ENABLING is based on the consortium’s vision that the biomass to BBPs value chains can enhance economic growth, a sound management of natural resources and positively contribute to job-creation in the regions and countries where they can be deployed.

Nikos Kyriakoulis
We kicked-off in Rome

The kick of meeting of the European project ENABLING, Enhance New Approaches in Bio-based Local Innovation Networks for Growth, was held in Rome on 11-12 December 2017.

The project coordinator Federunacoma hosted 16 partners from 13 EU and associated (IL, NO) countries.

Partners discussed ENABLING project aims and overview actions and introduced the plan for the next months.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to the presentation of project participants, an overview on the objective and activities of the project and on the presentation of single Work Packages by WP leaders.

Day 2 has been open to the discussion of the immediate project actions.

Nikos Kyriakoulis