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Pilot circular bio-based cities – sustainable production of bio-based products from urban biowaste and wastewater


Proposals shall provide Project Development Assistance (PDA) to a pilot group made up of at least 5 European cities (and/or clusters of cities) to build their technical, economic and legal expertise needed for leading to concrete investments in projects to valorise urban biowaste and wastewater through the production of safe and sustainable bio-based products, including the innovative ones. The valorisation of urban biowaste and wastewater solely in the form of compost, biogas and biofuels is not part of the focus of this topic. PDA shall support each city of the pilot group to bridge the gap between their plan/strategy to valorise urban biowaste and wastewater and the concrete investments for the launch and implementation of the respective projects. PDA should include feasibility studies, stakeholder and community mobilisation, financial engineering, business plans, technical specifications, procurement procedures, etc. Proposals shall justify the budget for the PDA provided to each city (and/or cluster of cities) based on the expected amount of investments to be triggered and the respective leverage factor to be achieved[[i.e. amount of investments in the production of bio-based products from urban biowaste and wastewater triggered per each EUR of Horizon 2020 support.]], where these expected investments and leverage factors shall also be justified. Projects and related investments shall be embedded in urban circular bio-based economy strategies embracing a wider sustainable and circular approach of the entire urban metabolism, where urban waste and wastewater are prevented, reduced and their recycling improved. Each city (and/or cluster of cities) shall include an agglomeration of a population equivalent generating a critical amount of urban biowaste and/or wastewater as feedstock for biorefining. The composition of the pilot group of cities (and/or clusters of cities) shall reflect a geographical spread within Europe and represent cities of different sizes and socio-economic structures to the largest extent possible. The involvement and proof of formal commitment of local and/or regional authorities at proposal stage is a precondition for the success of the project. An already existing practice of the separate collection of urban biowaste is an asset. The pilot circular bio-based economy cities should act as demonstrators with a view to transferring urban circular bio-based economy models all over throughout Europe and beyond. Proposals should support the creation of a European network to facilitate the exchange of good practices and lessons learned among circular bio-based cities. Cooperation with selected proposals under topic CE-SFS-25-2018 ""Integrated systems innovation in valorising urban biowaste"" is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting an EU contribution of up to EUR 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy sees cities becoming major circular bioeconomy hubs. Urban biowaste[[i.e. biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, offices, restaurants, wholesale, canteens, caterers and retail premises.]] and wastewater are circular feedstocks that can be used to produce innovative bio-based products such as bio-based chemicals, plastics and fertilisers. Moreover, the new EU waste legislation may lead to more quality biowaste becoming available for use in biorefineries. Nevertheless, very few European cities have developed circular bio-based economy strategies and projects for the production of innovative bio-based products. The challenge is to foster investments and to implement projects to valorise urban biowaste and wastewater through the production of innovative bio-based products within the framework of targeted circular bio-based economy strategies in urban areas. The EU added value can be obtained where projects introduce innovation to the market regarding financing solutions minimising transaction costs as well as where they demonstrably remove legal, administrative and other market barriers for mainstreaming circular bio-based investment schemes in European cities.

This action will contribute to the implementation of the 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy (Action 2.2. Pilot actions to support local bioeconomy development (urban) via Commission instruments and programmes) and the 2018 EU Circular Economy Package. Proposals are expected to demonstrate the following impacts using quantified indicators and targets when possible:

  • delivery sustainable circular bio-based economy investments and support the launch of the related projects embedded in urban circular bio-based economy strategies to valorise urban biowaste and wastewater through the production of bio-based products, including the innovative ones;
  • creation of a European network to facilitate the exchange of good practices and lessons learned among circular bio-based cities;
  • contribute to increased recycling of urban biowaste and wastewater, avoid landfilling and cut the respective associated greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • contribute to the creation of jobs in local economies.