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Innovative processes for sugar recovery and conversion from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

Demonstration of the techno-economic viability of the valorisation of the biodegradable fraction of MSW from sourcing and management of MSW to its conversion. Proposals should address the pre-treatment and/or fractionation of the biodegradable fraction of MSW into a suitable substrate for subsequent biotechnological conversion into sugar derived end products, e.g. bioethanol, biochemical and bioplastics in a cascading approach. When dealing with unsorted MSW, proposals could address the efficient separation of the biodegradable fraction. Proposals should demonstrate technological solutions overcoming inhibitory effects of the various relevant compounds. Proposals should prove the economical access to sufficient raw material to set up the new value chain and ensure the functioning/organisation of the sustainable supply chain. Proposals should pursue all possible means of industrial symbiosis and integration of actors along the whole value chain (including, when relevant, involvement of municipal authorities) and, wherever possible, make use of existing facilities. Safety, quality and purity of the products must be validated in order to meet commercial requirements. Proposals should assess market demand of the targeted products and will consider market pull related activities (e.g. standardisation, consumer perception) aimed at facilitating their market uptake. A Life Cycle Assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products. 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 35 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 represents an abundant feedstock rich in sugars and therefore suitable for conversion into bio-based chemicals and fuels through biotechnological processes. However, this fraction is highly variable (both in terms of season and geographic location) and contains other components, such as proteins, fats, ashes and other inhibitor compounds which affect the overall yield of fermentation and enzymatic conversion processes. Despite the existence of MSW-based biorefinery concepts at demonstration plant level, further innovation efforts are needed with a view to demonstrating at industrial scale a first-of-a-kind, cost effective new value chain for the recovery and conversion of MSW-based sugars into bio-based products.

  • Contribute to transforming MSW from a problem into an economic opportunity.
  • Improving process parameters such as yields, starting by reaching at least a 70% yield for the saccharification process.
  • Reaching purity of the final products in line with EU legislation for immediate access to the market.
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions by 70% with respect to landfilling.
  • Opening up new business models and creating new job opportunities in rural and urban areas.
  • Contributing to realising the objectives of Biotechnology and/or other Key Enabling Technologies under Horizon 2020 and dedicated EU policy to address the development of scientific and technological know-how in biotechnology and its translation into industrial products and solutions of societal challenges.