Brussels — The EU Commission has approved an investment package of €222.7 million from the EU budget to support Europe’s transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. The EU funding will spur additional investments leading to a total of €398.6 million to be invested into 144 new projects in 23 Member States.
The support comes from the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The projects illustrate the Commission’s ongoing commitment to its flagship circular economy package. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella commented: „LIFE-funded projects use relatively little funding and with simple ideas to create profitable green businesses that deliver on the transition to a low-carbon and circular economy.“ Several of the projects concerning waste issues are listed below.
France: BIOHEC-LIFE (GECCO)
The aim of this project is to develop a circular economy around used cooking oil (UCO), which will be processed from food and catering industry waste into biofuel. It will develop and promote new methods enabling the optimised recovery of UCO. These will inform the development of a local production chain to cost-effectively fuel transport fleets in Lille and Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie with advanced biofuels derived from UCO and bioethanol. The project will also develop partnerships and franchises to replicate its model in other parts of France and elsewhere in Europe.
The production of magnesium oxide generates sulphur dioxide and other pollutants. Current techniques to prevent this either require use of large volumes of water or have other environmental disadvantages. The LIFEPOSITIVEMgOFGD project will showcase a new technique using magnesium oxide reagents for desulphurisation. Some 90% of solid waste will be recovered in a process that uses 40% less energy and 80% less water than wet flue gas desulphurisation. The by-product of the new technique will be used to produce fertilisers and construction materials.
The aim of the project is to evaluate, though a pilot-scale demonstration, an innovative technology and a low-emission process to safely transform food waste, mainly from hotels, into animal feed. Solar energy will be used to pasteurise and dry food waste. The F4F process addresses the need to reduce waste food going to landfill. It involves the separation of food waste at source, to create valuable raw materials for feed production, in line with the circular economy concept.
The project’s goal is to reduce food waste in Hungarian households by changing public attitudes and behaviour. It forms part of the Hungarian national food waste prevention plan. The project will pay special attention to schoolchildren – the consumers of the future – while developing good practices relating to waste prevention for all stakeholders in the food chain. The project expects to reach more than 9 million citizens through its communication campaign, leading to a reduction in food waste of 4 kg per person per year in Hungary.
The main objective of the project is to build a pilot plant to demonstrate an innovative and sustainable on-farm treatment for poultry manure (avoiding transport costs). The new technology will convert manure into valuable fertilisers, while also producing thermal and electrical energy and tackling problems related to disposal, transport and gas emissions. By closing the nitrogen cycle inside the farm, the project will help implement the EU Circular Economy package’s ‘waste to energy‘ and ‘waste to fertiliser‘ initiatives.
The project aims to promote and develop industrial symbiosis by connecting SMEs in different sectors to foster alternative uses for their wastes. An online ‘Material Match-Making Platform‘ (M3P) will promote knowledge about the industrial waste produced in an area, the life-cycles of products and the materials needed to make them. This platform will enable waste from one industry to become a secondary raw material for another industry. The project will also demonstrate the feasibility of a more efficient use of raw materials through the systematic application of eco-design techniques.
Italy: LIFE CRAL (FRENI BREMBO SpA):
The objective of LIFE CRAL is to design and construct a pre-industrial-scale pilot line, which is able to produce high-quality, lightweight components from recycled low-purity (<95%) aluminium and the new eco-magnesium (ECO-Mg) alloy in a safe and clean manner. The pilot line will introduce sustainable, semisolid metal casting technology for the first time to the automotive sector.
The project will implement a closed loop process in the manufacturing of ceramic slabs for use in tiles, kitchen tops and bathroom surfaces. This will be demonstrated at Ceramica Fondovalle in Maranello (Modena province). This circular economy concept will involve reuse of end-of-life ceramic slabs dismantled from existing installations. The manufacturer will produce slabs containing up to 40% recycled raw materials in a process improvement that lowers waste, water use, energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as requiring less packaging.
The aim of this project is to produce porous, low-noise road surfaces that substitute recycled asphalt pavements and crumb rubber from scrap tyres for virgin aggregates and some virgin bitumen. Some 5.25 km of test road surfaces will be laid in Tuscany and Belgium, using at least 4.800 end-of-life tyres. The new surfaces are expected to reduce urban noise pollution by at least 5 decibels in comparison with traditional roads and 2 decibels compared to other porous asphalt surfaces.
The project aims to tackle food waste by supporting existing Italian legislation on the topic and raising awareness of the need to act on surplus food management and food waste prevention among the three key actors of the food supply chain: agro-food companies, food retailers and consumers. This will be done by means of a coordinated information campaign, carried out at national and European level. The project expects to reach more than 12.000 food retailers and 20.000 agro-food companies and half a million consumers, leading to a 10% increase in recovery of food waste.
The project’s aim is to support the application of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and to increase awareness on marine litter, empowering citizens to become part of the solution. It will work towards removing existing marine litter and prevent further littering. In addition, the project will train fishing industry professionals in responsible practices and provide Italian authorities with guidelines for the management of marine litter. More than 20 000 stakeholders are expected to sign a code of conduct on prevention of marine litter.
This project will demonstrate a cost-efficient new street lighting dimming system that is designed to reduce energy consumption by 30% in comparison with state-of-the-art control systems. The technology will be installed on a pilot basis in EUR, a residential and business district of Rome. The project will carry out a life-cycle assessment, life-cycle cost analysis and preliminary market and socio-economic analyses of the new system, which is expected to reduce street lighting maintenance costs by 10% and contribute to a 30% reduction in national expenditure on public lighting.
Netherlands: AGANFOILS (Attero B.V.)
Post-consumer LDPE (low-density polyethylene) plastic foils recovered from municipal solid waste are contaminated with dirt, organic material and adhesives. This makes them difficult to recycle. The AGANFOILS project aims to demonstrate industrial-scale recycling of post-consumer LDPE in existing recycling facilities in Wijster to produce a high-quality, odourless plastic re-granulate. The largely closed-loop process will make efficient use of available residual energy and water streams.
The project will carry out the first full-scale demonstration of an innovative waste heat recovery concept for high-temperature manufacturing processes. The demonstration will take place at the Libbey Leerdam glassware factory in the Netherlands. The OPTIMELT technology serves as an add-on to existing oxy-fuel combustion furnaces. The project aims to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% compared to the best available technology in the glass industry. Results will be disseminated to at least 500 European factories using high-temperature manufacturing processes.
The project will implement an integrated, cost-efficient and highly replicable PAYT (pay-as-you-throw) system in five southern EU municipalities: Lisbon, Condeixa and Aveiro (Portugal); Vrilissia (Greece); and Larnaca (Cyprus). This will encourage households and companies to sort and recycle, with the aim of reducing waste, increasing recycling rates for packaging materials, demonstrating changes in local decision making that help implement EU waste policy, and promoting the replication of the concept in other southern European municipalities. The project will use software and hardware to show waste producers how much they discard, and design fair and equitable waste tariffs.
The project will make optimum use of a waste stream that is normally landfilled. It will use the organic waste that results from banana cultivation in two resource-efficient ways: firstly, the waste’s fibres will be extracted and used as a natural additive for biobased plastic components and covers to protect banana trees against UV radiation. Secondly, the pulp that results from the fibre extraction process will be used in the manufacturing process of fish feed instead of the synthetic substances that are currently added as anti-oxidative products. The project makes a special contribution to the EU circular economy action plan, as it actively contributes to two of its five priority areas: plastics and bio-waste.
Spain: LIFE ECOMETHYLAL (AIMPLAS)
Recycling is not possible for all types of plastic waste, such as that containing mixed plastics, or contaminated or severely degraded plastics. LIFE ECOMMETHYLAL will use a technique called catalytic hydro-gasification with plasma (CHGP) to produce a valuable chemical agent called methylal from non-recyclable packaging waste (NRPW) generated by the automotive, electric-electronic and packaging sectors. The project will build pilot plants in Spain and Croatia to demonstrate the applicability of using CHGP to make methylal from NRPW.
The project seeks to reduce the large volume of foundry sand sent to landfills and create a green economy for reused sand. It will demonstrate for the first time in Europe, a mechanical process for treating spent foundry sand (SFS) that allows this waste material to be reused as fine aggregate in construction. The project will build a pilot plant in the Basque Country to treat 1,500 tonnes of SFS. The aggregate produced will be used in three different construction applications.
The project aims to recycle polyester textile waste generated during shoe manufacturing, enabling textile waste that contains glues and other materials to be recycled for the first time. The material produced by the recycling process – BHET – will replace non-renewable petrochemical feedstock, so closing the cycle for polyester materials in shoe manufacturing, in line with the EU Circular Economy package.
The project aims to demonstrate technology for the treatment of leachate from landfills, based on solar evaporation/condensation and forward osmosis. The project prototype, which will be tested in Botarell (Spain) and Athens (Greece), will treat leachate on-site, removing all the pollutants it contains, and avoiding costly effluent transport to wastewater treatment plants. The final solid residue (sludge) obtained will be used in the manufacture of ceramic products.
This project proposes a solution for recycling multilayer plastic waste and diverting it from incineration or landfill. It will develop an integrated scheme to recover valuable PVC and PE (polyethylene terephthalate) for reuse as raw materials for packaging or recycled plastic-based products. The project will establish a new network for separate collection of this waste, and design a delamination process flexible enough to process different specifications of PVC/PE-based multilayer film. The new technology will be tested at semi-industrial scale at a plant in Austria.
The project will demonstrate an innovative water recycling system for the petrochemical industry. It will analyse wastewater samples from different petrochemical plants and use this knowledge to design and build a prototype plant in Tarragona. The plant, which will combine mechanical separation and biological processes, will be highly versatile and able to treat wastewaters of different qualities to standards required for various reuse applications.
The project will design and implement a pilot system to boost bottle reuse in Catalonia’s wine industry. The project aims to prove that reuse is environmentally and economically feasible, and preferable to current management alternatives. The system will include a collection network for used bottles, new bottle cleaning and labelling processes that consume less energy, and the development of incentives (e.g. customer discounts) to foster the use and return of used bottles.
Spain: LIFE Zero Cabin Waste (IBERIA):
The project will create an integrated model to reduce, re-use and recycle waste collected on aircraft, which will be implemented at Barajas Airport in Madrid. The project will focus on light packaging and organic and inseparable waste fractions from EU and non-EU international flights. Implementation will involve the establishment of collection, separation and processing protocols, training for aircrew and ground staff, and some adjustments to equipment. It will be implemented at Madrid’s Barajas airport and will involve crew and staff training; equipment adjustments; new collection, separation and processing protocols. Once successfully implemented, the project methodology will be replicated at Heathrow Airport as a means of demonstrating its widespread transferability.
The project aims to design and construct a pilot plant that will produce electricity by re-using impure alcohol fractions of low commercial value. These ethanolic purges are a waste product of bioethanol manufacturing. Their re-use will significantly reduce the CO2 emissions created by the production of electricity. The purges will be converted into reformed gas stream rich in hydrogen which will be used to generate electricity in a solid oxide fuel cell.
The project will apply a circular economy principle to vineyard pruning waste, converting it into a substrate that can be applied as enriched compost in vineyards, seedbeds and urban allotments, as opposed to burning it. This process will be developed and tested on 750 ha of vineyards in Murcia. The project expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 85% in comparison with current management practices, as well as helping to avoid soil degradation and having a positive impact on biodiversity. The project will also develop tools, training modules and guidelines to effectively transfer this solution to other wine production areas in Europe.
Sweden: Hg-rid-LIFE (Praktikertjänst AB)
The project aims to demonstrate new technologies and improve existing techniques for the decontamination of amalgam and mercury in the pipe systems of Swedish dental clinics, to reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment by up to 50%. The project will demonstrate its new technology for mercury decontamination in 145 dental care facilities in Sweden. In clinics where mercury levels exceed 1 000 μg/l in sewage waste from suction systems, mercury levels will be reduced by at least 50%.
The objective of the project is to demonstrate an innovative 100% fossil-free biomaterial, called Biodolomer®, which can be used in place of plastic in product packaging. The new material will be tested in four commercial reference products (freezer bags, cutlery, and food and drink packaging). Biodolomer can be treated as organic waste, capable of being recycled, composted or incinerated, rather than landfilled. A life-cycle assessment of the material will be carried out. This is expected to show a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions across the complete life-cycle.
Sweden: LIFE HALOSEP (Stena Metall AB)
The objective of the project is to demonstrate how two flue gas waste products from incineration plants (fly ash and liquid) can be co-treated to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The innovative process converts the wastes into a salt brine product and a zinc product, and significantly reduces the amount of flue gas residues that need to be landfilled because they do not meet EU levels for leaching properties. The new technology closes the material loops for chloride and zinc, as the material can be recycled instead of landfilled.
Sweden: LIFE SURE (Kalmar Municipality)
Only 12% of dredged sediments in the EU are recycled. LIFE SURE will demonstrate a cost-effective and ecologically-sustainable process for retrieving and recycling sediments from shallow eutrophic waters. This consists of an automated surface raft pulling an underwater unit with specially-designed nozzles to pump up sediments. The system moves slowly and does not cause any re-suspension of sediments. Dredged sediments will be treated into three fractions (water, organic and mineral sediments) all of which can be reused. More than 70% of dredged sediments will be recycled, with a 50% reduction in costs for dredging, dewatering and purification compared to existing technologies.
The full list of LIFE projects can be visited under europa.eu.
Source: EU Commission