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Final Report Summary - REUSEWASTE (Recovery and Use of Nutrients, Energy and Organic Matter from Animal Waste)

Global livestock production has increased dramatically on a global scale, and changes in production systems have resulted in increased pollution of air, aquifers, surface waters and soil. A major sustainability concern is also the uncoupling of the sites of animal feed production and animal production, through the (mainly economic) driving forces specialization, intensification and up-scaling. This leads to surplus amounts of animal manure in areas where livestock are produced. Evidently it is necessary for the agricultural livestock industry to develop new environmental technologies to meet global challenges related to environmental impact and sustainability. The ReUseWaste network was deliberately established with partners from some of the most livestock intensive regions of Europe in order to address this challenge.

The objective of ReUseWaste was to educate young scientists to rethink current, established manure management systems and apply new technology for improved and sustainable utilisation of the valuable organic matter and nutrient resources in manure. ReUseWaste, therefore, has had a very strong focus on the training and career development of the young scientists conducting relevant research within this field and that can develop and provide knowledge about new technologies leading to improved soil, water and air quality.

ReUseWaste was structured in eight work packages to ensure a strong and committed focus on the key areas. Two work packages targeted scientific and complimentary training activities, respectively, whilst five work packages were dedicated to scientific research activities. A separate work package was for overseeing management and dissemination activities of the network (see > Objectives)

The ReUseWaste project reached its completion at the end of 2015 after a period of four years. The first phase of the project involved the initiation, establishment and consolidation of the ReUseWaste consortium such as setting up the management framework which could serve as the foundation for coordinating project activities, particularly recruitment of the 13 ReUseWaste Fellows. The fellows form the backbone of a training project such as ReUseWaste and therefore considerable attention was given to finding ideal candidates and following an extensive recruitment campaign, all thirteen ReUseWaste fellows were recruited by 2013 ( > Fellows).

The ReUseWaste fellows have all embarked on the ReUseWaste scientific, generic and complementary training activities ( > Training). The ReUseWaste training program offered a multitude of different activities all aiming to improve their scientific and generic competences and enhance their career prospects. The fellows’ all developed and maintained individual research and career development plans to formulate their training needs and research objectives – these have at the end of the project been updated and developed further into career development plan for each fellow. During the course of the training program, all fellows also embarked on a range of tailor made secondments. The secondments have served as an excellent opportunity for Fellows to acquire experience and training in a multitude of areas, particularly as secondments offer Fellows a broader outlook whilst strongly improving their career prospects by developing their CV’s. Other highlights of the ReUseWaste training program have been the study-tours held in conjunction with the ReUseWaste supervisor-fellow meetings ( > Events). The study tours have given the Fellows an exciting opportunity to observe technologies implemented in real life and to communicate with farmers, advisors, engineers and managers from the private sector, whilst the annual meetings have continually served as an ideal opportunity to galvanise the collaborative spirit of the fellow group and to create joint learning and synergy.

The training was finalised by the FIRe Joint Scientific Workshop "Innovative strategies to improve the recycling of energy, nutrients and organic matter from waste materials" ( ), held together with several other related EU projects in May 2015. For Fellows, the FIRe event served as a training and dissemination event, and offered a chance for them to expose their results to others and potential new employees, whether in the research community or private sector. The FIRe event was concluded in a plenary session focusing on key barriers and challenges to enhanced organic waste recycling and a discussion of central future research priorities in the field. For technologies, we should focus on further exploring the potential of promising technologies such as manure acidification for reducing emissions. Prospects were considered best for technology combinations, including mixes of co-substrates for energy and fertiliser production, as well as for new analytical methods for prediction of important biological characteristics and potential value of waste biomasses. Future research must also focus on finding out what the best scales are for implementation of various technology types in different contexts, and ultimately what types of incentives (economic and regulatory) are necessary and feasible to enhance organic waste recycling in Europe.

A measure of the outcomes of the ReUseWaste training program is the number and diversity of dissemination activities produced by the project ( > Publications). By the end of the project period, ReUseWaste has produced 19 scientific papers (in press or published), whilst an additional 12 manuscript are currently in review. ReUseWaste has been represented in 36 instances of conference presentations of poster or oral presentations. Furthermore, the project has produced 25 research briefs, 16 newsletters and participants have been involved in more than 60 incidents of outreach activities.
Academically, ReUseWaste has focussed on aspects pertaining to i) manure characterisation, ii) treatment technologies and management, iii) energy and nutrient recovery, iv) land recycling and v) synthesis of this knowledge across the manure chain. Examples of individual scientific highlights of note include for (i) Fourier-transform mid-infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy was found to be a technique that can be successfully used for characterising very dark and opaque samples and potentially to replace various assays that used for the determination of the usefulness of various organic wastes. (ii) The combined approach of slurry acidification and separation was found to drastically decrease harmful gaseous emissions whilst increasing the nutrient value of slurries. Further, membrane technologies for solid-liquid separation of farm effluents were found to be a suitable technique for concentration of farm effluents and digestates. (iii) Successful gasification of poultry litter and pig manure on pilot scale updraft gasifier; data were used for gasification modelling using a thermodynamic equilibrium approach. iv) The treatment of slurry by mechanical separation and additives can be utilised as a strategy to enhance recycling of slurry nutrients after field application especially under a double crop foraging system. Further, manure biochar showed completely different behaviour (in relation to soil GHGs emissions, nutrient availability and crop growth) than standard wood biochar. The assumptions that standard biochar are effective for reducing ammonia emissions, are unrealistic. A combined acidification and drying treatment of slurry digestate solids may be an interesting option for increasing the fertilizing value of the final product and reduce the mineral fertilizing dependency of the agricultural sector. v)Highlights include the successful determination of nitrogen and GHG emission coefficients at each stage of the manure management chain and that lowering the protein content of feed and acidifying slurry are strategies that consistently reduce ammonia and GHG emissions in the whole livestock production chain. Finally, a stakeholder study revealed a high potential for farmer’s increased use of organic wastes and treatment technologies, but also identified and barriers and advantages perceived by farmers.

The reported scientific highlights of fellows’ research activities, several also in collaboration with associated industrial partners, indicate that ReUseWaste will provide significant benefits for European research and agri-environmental technology sector. The organisation and management of ReUseWaste has been well functioning and robust and laid the foundation for the achievements of the ReUseWaste training and research activities. The core objective of the ReUseWaste project was the education of 13 young scientists to rethink current established manure management systems and develop new technologies for improved and sustainable utilization of the valuable organic matter and nutrient resources in manure. We feel that the project has fulfilled this objective - exposure to the comprehensive training and research program has paved the way for promising future research careers for all fellows, for the benefit of Europe.

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 3533 3442 Email:

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Københavns Universitet
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