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Organic acids from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)


Demonstration of the techno-economic viability of the conversion of the biodegradable fraction of MSW into organic acids in a cascading concept, leading to high conversion rates and high recovery of the biodegradable part along the whole waste value chain. Proposals dealing with unsorted MSW could include the demonstration of an efficient sorting and separation technology for the biodegradable fraction of MSW achieving also a sufficient cleanliness of the non-biodegradable by-products enabling further processing and recycling. Proposals will assess product demand and will consider market pull related activities (e.g. standardisation, consumers’ perception) aimed at facilitating the market uptake of the developed products. A Life Cycle Analysis should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed process. Proposals should assure economical and sustainable access to sufficient raw material to set up the new value chain. The leading role of relevant industrial partners is considered essential to achieve the full impact.

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.

The biodegradable fraction of MSW, mainly consisting of food residues and other organic materials, could be an economical and sustainable feedstock for biorefining purposes, while at present posing environmental challenges. The potential for exploiting this resource for conversion into chemical building blocks requires the demonstration of new technologies to arrive at novel viable solutions in terms of product's cost and quality. Organic acids are considered a promising product segment, which requires further investments with view to achieve their cost-effective production. In particular the following challenges need to be addressed: (1) maximising the use of biodegradable resources by applying an efficient cascaded conversion (2) improving biotechnology-based processes yield and concentration of organic acids in reaction mixtures (3) an additional challenge for unsorted MSW, lies in the efficient separation of the biodegradable fraction of unsorted MSW.

  • Achieving a yield in the range of 150 – 200 kg of organic acids per ton of organic waste.
  • For proposals dealing with unsorted MSW: achieving a 90% separation rate of biodegradable fraction from unsorted MSW leading to reduced need for landfill or incineration, and valorisation of waste.
  • Contributing to realising the objectives of Key Enabling Biotechnology under Horizon 2020 and dedicated EU policy in so far as to addressing the development of scientific and technological know-how in biotechnology and its translation into industrial products and solutions of societal challenges.