European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

New approaches for the valorisation of URBAN bulky waste into high added value RECycled products

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - URBANREC (New approaches for the valorisation of URBAN bulky waste into high added value RECycled products)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-11-30

-What is the problem/issue being addressed?
Despite the continuous progresses of municipal waste management, there are still several waste streams that have limited opportunities for material recovery and thus end in landfills or incineration plants. One of these challenging streams is “bulky waste”. Bulky waste includes in particular furniture, mattresses, upholstery, garden and outdoor or other large fixtures and fittings, representing a European generation of 19 Mt/year. More than 60% of bulky waste is currently landfilled in EU (around 11.5 Mt according to WRAP-UK).
Bulky waste is a challenging stream for various reasons: first, its bulky nature makes logistics complicated. Secondly, bulky waste encompasses very heterogeneous products and materials, which requires either an effective source separation system or a proper sorting technology. Many products managed as bulky waste are also composite products (e.g. a sofa composed of wood, textiles, and foam), that require a dismantlement process to allow the recovery of the various materials included. Other challenges are the lack of stringent regulation, and the lack of market outcomes due to, amongst others, the inexistence of cost-effective valorisation methods.
This implies significant environmental impacts and a loss of resources that could be valorised. A comprehensive solution that allows a circular economy approach is required.
-Why is it important for society?
Bulky waste stream has limited opportunities to positively contribute to generate value for the EU society for different reasons being thus, finally landfilled/incinerated. Society demand a bulky waste management system that can contribute to create value from waste; enhancing re-use, turning waste materials into secondary raw materials and creating innovative sustainable solutions and new jobs.
-What are the overall objectives?
The URBANREC project objective were to develop and implement an eco-innovative and integral bulky waste management system (enhancing prevention and re-use, improving logistics and allowing new waste treatments to obtain high added value recycled products) and demonstrate its effectiveness in different regions. The valorisation routes considered in the project include:
rebonding and chemical solvolysis for the PUR materials, to prepare renewable adhesives and to help with the preparation of PU foams (top foam mattress and isolation panels) with renewable materials;
production of needle felt from textiles to obtain fabrics for being used in the mattress industry and isolation panels for being used in construction industry;
production of fibre reinforced composites from textiles;
wood plastic composites (WPC);
catalytic hydro-gasification with plasma for hard plastics and wood to obtain chemicals or fuel.
All in all, URBANREC has provided the bases to develop a global EU framework on bulky waste, collaborating in the definition and support of future EU legislation in urban bulky waste management.
Work completed -42 months:

During the last period of the project different activities were accomplished. Environmental, economic and social analysis was performed, and it is demonstrated that a reduction of more than 20% in CO2 emission can be reached when URBANREC management system was implemented. Valorization routes have been optimized and final data for economic/environmental analysis were obtained. Two guides (eco-design and bulky waste management guide) for implementation of URBANREC were completed and are available for public consultations. An interactive tool for communication is also finished and available so e-learning modules and public information is organized for being consulted by citizens, local authorities and public in general. All results obtained were presented during the Final Conference in Brussels The main results of URBANREC were presented during the final project conference addressing both policy and technical dimensions of bulky waste management in urban areas.
URBANREC project finished obtaining good results in different areas and reaching objectives specified at the beginning of the project. These objectives are focused on technical and non-technical developments to be applied in bulky waste management system adapted to economic, social and geographic conditions for different European regions.
Main results obtained:
- Reuse and collection systems
A new dismantling service developed by IMOG with two objectives: offer a complete dismantling service to residents and collect more products for re-use.
A new system to enhance reuse in Flanders region was also implemented with good results, HANGAAR project, to give a second opportunity for reuse and contributing to social inclusion.
URBANREC Spanish partners also developed a strategy to boost re-use in their territory.
Also, in Flanders an app was developed including information about bulky waste collection/treatment but also an innovative service for bulky waste collection and a customer portal service was implemented in the CA-site.
The first CA site was installed in Turkey.
Source-separation was promoted in Warsaw and new collection systems for bulky waste were developed.
- Valorization routes
Innovative treatments were demonstrated to obtain raw material from bulky waste, fragmentation and shredding technology: ECOFRAG technology mainly for foam and textiles and VANHEEDE technology for hard plastic and wood.
Waste materials obtained were employed in different valorisation routes (solvolysis, rebonding, wood plastic composites, textiles technologies, compounding, injection…). Those waste materials which cannot be used directly in these valorisation routes due to their lack of homogeneity have been used in an innovative valorisation process Hydro-catalytic gasification with plasma (HCGP). Finally, several demonstrators have been obtained within the project turning waste material coming from bulky waste into new products which fulfil market requirements. Demonstrators developed are listed below:
LCA, taking into account implementation of these innovative treatment and valorisation routes, was completed for each region obtaining a CO2 emission reduction of more than 20%.
- Transfer activities
Two different guides were completed; Eco-design guide and Guide on URBANREC bulky waste management system including a definition of bulky waste and legal recommendations proposed on future legislation. Both guides are available in an interactive tool developed to help end-users understand the results of the URBANREC project and how these could be useful in practice. The fully operational tool is accessible at:
Final Global scheme of the URBANREC project approach
Case studies in the URBANREC project