AGROCYCLE: “A Blueprint and EU Policy-Forming Protocol for the Recycling and Valorisation of Agri-Food Waste”
Sustainable technologies for exploitation and reuse of by-products from the agricultural supply chain
In the context of Circular Economy, with the moto “closing the loop”, the European Commission adopted the ambitious target of stimulating Europe’s transition towards a new lifestyle, which through greater recycling and re-use, may boost competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs, with benefits for both the environment and the economy.
Europe is generating 1.3 billion tons of waste annually, of which 700 million tons are agricultural waste. Alongside the supply chain of the agricultural products (i.e. production, processing, transportation and consumption) significant quantities of both solid and liquid waste and by-product streams are produced. Management of these streams comprise a difficult task given its specific characteristics including high organic loadings, seasonal production, existence of non-biodegradable substances etc. At the same time, agricultural by-products can be used as raw materials for recovery of energy, production of bio-fertilizers, chemicals, and high-added-value products.
The Laboratory of Natural Resource and Renewable Energies (NRRE) of CPERI/CERTH, in collaboration with the Institute of Applied Biosiences (INEB/CERTH), participate in a selected project for funding by the European Commission, as part of the Horizon 2020 call, named “AGROCYCLE – Sustainable techno-economic solutions for the agricultural value chain” (http://www.agrocycle.eu/). The large-scale project, led by the University College of Dublin, involves 25 partners from the EU, Hong Kong and Mainland China, and is going to further develop, demonstrate and validate novel processes, practices and products for the sustainable use of agricultural waste, co-products and by-products (AWCB), of representative agricultural sectors of EU and China. More specifically, the project comprises mapping the agri-food waste streams and finding out various exploitation pathways, demonstrate technologies for production of optimized biofuels and bio-fertilizers, development of advanced methods for exploitation and reuse of wastewaters from the agri-food processing industries, production of novel high-added-value products from AWCB, development of new value chains through exploitation of AWCB, definition of relative business methodology and models, and finally, mapping of the existing legislative framework and the necessary legislation modifications that could promote the idea of Circular Economy within the agri-food supply chain.
AGROCYCLE project (June 2016 – May 2019) aims to achieve a 10% increase in the recycling and exploitation of agricultural waste by 2020, and to demonstrate successful paradigms of new and sustainable techno-economic and environmental exploitation practices, maximizing the use AWCB via the creation of new sustainable value chains.