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A DECentralIzed management Scheme for Innovative Valorization of urban biowastE

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DECISIVE (A DECentralIzed management Scheme for Innovative Valorization of urban biowastE)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-10-31

The growing attractiveness of cities leads in increasing population and rising energetic and food demands in urban areas and makes urban waste management increasingly challenging, both in terms of logistics and environmental or health impacts. To decrease the cities’ impacts and to contribute to a better resilience of urban areas, waste management systems have to be improved to increase prevention and local valorization. In this context, the DECISIVE project proposed to change the present urban metabolism for organic matter, energy and biowaste to tend to a more circular economy and to assess the impacts of these changes on the overall waste management cycle. More specifically, DECISIVE project offered to demonstrate the ability to decrease focus efforts on decentralised management and valorization of the biowaste, through anaerobic digestion (AD) and solid-state fermentation (SSF) within the urban and peri-urban areas in relation with urban and peri-urban agriculture. The project targeted two major advances. The first one is an organizational advance with the proposal of a new management strategy for urban biowaste (DECISIVE system), based on local micro-scale systems and circular thinking for valorization, forming the ground-breaking concept of network of urban decentralised valorization sites. The second one concerns technologies with the development of eco-efficient micro-scale biological processes: micro-anaerobic digestion (mAD) and Solid substrate fermentation (SSF).
After more than 5 years of work and facing difficulties as the COVID pandemic, the DECISIVE project led to numerous and interesting results as well as promising outlooks for the future:
• Definition of the DECISIVE concept, system and solution:
The DECISIVE concept is a concept that proposes the treatment of biowaste in urban areas in a decentralized way. It relies on three fundamental elements: The decentralization of biowaste management within urban areas; The closing of carbon, energy, and nutrients in short loops; The integration of technologies at small scale. The “DECISIVE system” is defined as a food waste management system that uses anaerobic digestion at small scale, as the main treatment technology for biowaste in a determined urban area. A “DECISIVE solution” is a DECISIVE system that includes a perimeter of external services to complete its value proposition.
• Key DECISIVE products:
The first key products concern organizational tools. The first tool is DST, developed to diagnose the current biowaste management of diverse urban locations and compare with scenario including decentralised management by the DECISIVE system; this tool is already freely available. The second tool is an optimisation-modelling tool to plan the locations where DECISIVE solution may be implemented. This tool is still in a development TRL 4-5 and its improvement will continue. The second type of products concerns technologies: A new pateted mAD process implementing a dry digestion has been proposed and demonstrated through a 100L-pilot. The stirling engine technology has been successfully downscaled to adapt to mAD and is available for market delivery. Finally, the solid substrate fermentation proved to be a performing way to produce biopesticide from digestate.
• Assessment of the DECISIVE concept sustainability
A method to assess the system value from growth positive targets, addressing all dimensions of sustainability, including regulatory enablers and barriers for implementing integrated urban food waste-based biorefineries and urban farming systems has been developed. It consists in a conceptual framework that was applied to perform system level assessment of the DECISIVE demonstration sites, with results proving the environmental benefit of a decentralised biowaste management as well as the condition for ensuring economic sustainability. This assessment led to propose alternative regulatory mechanisms to support transitions in a green economy.
• Demonstration of the feasibility of DECISIVE solution implementation and its impact on waste prevention
This demonstration was achieved on the LYON demonstration site (France), which was based on a pilot developed by ENWISE was designed to treat 50 t of biowaste per year. The demonstration operation gave a lot of information on the flexibility of a decentralised solution. Moreover it led to a positive appraisal of the feasibility of the DECISIVE concept (administrative procedure + treatment set-up + biowaste supply), with a good technical assessment of the valorisation system and proved the relevance of the micro-anaerobic digestion even at the lowest scale of 50 tonnes of biowaste treated per year. Moreover, in all places where the DECISIVE solution implementation was studied (Lyon, Dolina, UAB campus in Spain) the waste characterizations led to interesting conclusions about the quality of the collected biowaste, the part of avoidable biowaste in the collection, the positive role of sorting and local treatment in terms of prevention.
• Business models for the future
Success and constraining factors for outcomes of the DECISIVE project have been studied highlighting the need for new business models and support of legislation for the DECISIVE concept. It also underlined the need for end-users involvement, positive perception of products from the micro-anaerobic digestion and benefits from the decentralised system in order to ensure acceptance. This first study enabled then to draw fundamentals elements that define the value proposition and a Go-To-Market strategy for a decentralised biowaste management solution based on the DECISIVE system. this strategy clearly states the DECISIVE solution is a complementary solution to centralized biowaste management. A first market section for the DECISIVE solution should be commercial and industrial biowaste producers, whereas households should be targeted later with more return on experience.
Through its results, the DECISIVE project first gives solutions to improve material and energy recovery efficiency in waste recycling and prevention in short term. DECISIVE delivers new models for decentralized collection implementation opening original pathways for achieving biowaste capture and further recycling. Decentralised energy production and digestate valorisation as bioproducts ensures circularity. Market achievement of these products has still to be worked out. DECISIVE results also enable the operationalization of the urban metabolism approach for sustainable urban development. In this view, development of tools (DST and optimisation-modelling tool) and communication and incentives is a real strength of the DECISIVE project.
Finally DECISIVE key products are innovative and place the European and especially consortium partners in lead position to: Produce micro-technologies; Propose experts service to help in diagnosis, choice of solutions and implementation of new biowaste management in urban areas ; Advise policies development.
To conclude, the project clearly paves the way for new business development in an urban bioeconomy.
Logo of the DECISIVE project