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Valorisation of the organic content of Municipal Solid Waste and contributing to the renewable circular economy


Demonstrate the techno-economic viability of the conversion of the organic fraction of MSW into chemical building blocks, polymers or additives. The developed approach should be robust and able to tackle the issues inherent to MSW treatment, such as variability in composition (among others seasonality and geographic location) and presence of inhibitors to downstream biotechnological processes.

This topic does not focus on production of organic acids as that has been the subject of a topic in the AWP 2015 (BBI.VC4.D6.2015).

Proposals should seek the complementarity to the projects funded under topic H2020 CIRC-05-2016 and to the projects funded under topic H2020 SPIRE-03-2016 to avoid overlaps and promote synergies.

Proposals should validate the whole value chain at demonstration scale, with the direct involvement of waste management authorities and end-users of the targeted products. Proposals should assess the feasibility of market deployment of the products, taking into account the issues tied to the legislative framework related to waste-to-product applications. A sound business model should be provided. In particular quality and cost of the products must be such to ensure market uptake, and in any case at least comparable with existing comparable products. An accompanying full cost/benefit analysis takes into account the savings associated with avoidance of disposing of waste.

Safety, quality and purity of the products must be validated in order to meet commercial and/or regulatory requirements by actively building upon existing knowledge and standardisation activities.

Proposals should achieve technology demonstrated in an industrial environment, or a system prototype demonstration in operational environment. Proposals need to address the whole value chain, from feedstock sourcing to market applications (Technology Readiness Levels 6-7).

Proposals should also include a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the whole value chain.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 15 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Despite the improvements in sorting and recycling, a large fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is still landfilled (31%) or incinerated (26%) across Europe. This practice is posing environmental concerns, as well as wasting potentially useful resources contained in MSW. In particular, the abundance of sugars and other potentially interesting organic matter are identifying MSW as an alternative source of feedstock for the bioeconomy. Differentiating and enlarging the biomass feedstock portfolio are key objectives of the bio-based industries in Europe. Exploiting MSW, one of many residual streams in today’s economic activities, as a biomass feedstock source, contributes to these goals. At the same time, utilizing MSW as a feedstock source for biorefineries helps realising the EU circular economy through industrial symbiosis, i.e. collaboration between producers to use each other’s by-products.

Lab scale technologies have shown feasible treatment and subsequent conversion of the organic fraction of MSW into a number of products or intermediates for further use (fuels, chemical building blocks, polymers, additives, etc.). The challenge is to demonstrate the large-scale, economically competitive deployment of treatment and conversion technologies of the organic fraction of MSW into final or intermediate products for identified further use.

  • Demonstration of higher added-value production than current valorisation of the organic fraction of MSW (biogas and/or compost).
  • Achieved competitive price of the developed products.
  • Safety, quality and purity of the (new) products are in line with EU legislation and proven to meet end-market requirements in order to facilitate future market access and commercialisation.
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Realisation of at least 1 new cross-sectorial interconnection in bio-based economy clusters (KPI 1), at least 1 new bio-based value chains (KPI 2), at least 1 new cooperation project through cross-industry clusters (KPI 3), at least 2 new bio-based materials (KPI 5), and at least 1 consumer product based on the obtained bio-based chemicals and materials (KPI 6).