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This edition of ReUseWaste News reports primarily about the final event in the ReUseWaste calender - the FIRe joint scientific workshop. The newsletter also contains two interesting research briefs, project news and forthcoming events.  

Successful joint scientific workshop in Germany

The FIRe: Joint scientific workshop: "Innovative strategies to improve the recycling of energy, nutrients and organic matter from waste materials" was held successfully on May 26th 2015 in Neudietendorf in Germany. The event was jointly organised by the EU research and training projects: FertiPlus,  IneMadReUseWaste and Biorefine Cluster Europe. The workshop was an inspirational forum for knowledge exchange, research discussion and sharing of innovative ideas between partners of the four projects. Please visit the event homepage to view presentations and read rapporteur reports.   

FIRe workshop participant’s opinion: A successful event for networking, learning and collaboration

Collaboration, networking, learning, knowledge sharing, results dissemination in the field of organic waste recycling…Treat waste as a resource!....and that the importance of our research to the EU commission is at least as important as space craft! These were just some of the perspectives mentioned in a mini survey of some FIRe workshop participants following the event.

The aim of the FIRe scientific workshop was indeed to create a forum for knowledge exchange, research discussion and sharing of innovative ideas, and based on what we heard, it seems that this was successfully achieved. In our mini-survey, we asked why people had participated in the event and what they felt their main learning points had been. We were also curious to explore how such an event could prove beneficial for participants and their organizations.

The two most common reasons mentioned for participating in the workshop were networking and to learn, particularly from the results emerging from work underway in the respective projects. Another perspective mentioned was to disseminate work and acquire feedback from peers. Participant’s key learning outcomes were primarily from the acquisition of new insights and perspectives from the diversity of topics covered, for example the importance of policy and that the reuse of organic waste in Europe differs very much from country to country – certainly no one size fits all. One respondent expressed that the idea of bringing together different projects in a meeting of this nature was particularly useful, stating: ‘Workshops of this size are much more efficient to get additional scientific value, than huge conferences. Still, we have the problem to point out the importance of our specific research to the EU commission.’

It was clear from the participants we interviewed that an event of this nature is particularly beneficial for facilitating collaboration and networking – as one participant expressed it: ‘…very inspiring to see how collaboration between different universities, projects and industries can improve the research and education of PhDs. They are very privileged to have this network’.

It was also pointed out that the FIRe event was contributing to innovative, societally relevant solutions through increased knowledge sharing. For example, one respondent stressed the need to bring technology developers and scientists together to facilitate the development of better solutions – ‘Bridge the gap! Bring technology developers and agriculture scientists to the same table’ as one expressed. One important outcome mentioned by one of the private sector participants was about linking to business, which perhaps is an apt conclusion: ‘…it [was] a unique event to expand my network for further collaboration in new projects or in commercial applications’. 

Thanks to those who shared their opinion with us.

No one size fits all: Creating incentives and determining scales for ‘best bet’ technologies

Knowledge exchange and the development of innovative ideas for sustainable solutions in organic waste recycling– these were the core objectives behind bringing together central stakeholders from research and industry working in the field of organic waste recycling in a range of EU research projects. After an excellent day of inspirational keynotes and research presentations in six parallel sessions, the FIRe joint scientific event was concluded in a plenary discussion focussing on key barriers and challenges to enhanced organic waste recycling and a discussion of central future research priorities in the field.

Whilst some of the closing discussion focussed on specific technologies, identified due their evident promise, such as acidification of manures or biochar production, much of the discussion focussed on barriers and knowledge gaps at another scale. In particular, much attention was given to the question of which scale to work at for ‘best bet’ technologies. Should organic waste recycling technologies be implemented at the farm scale or at a more regional level – and if so who should the implementers be? In this discussion, the question was not just about how a larger scale technology should be implemented, but also what is the most applicable scale for a given technology to be applied at. In line with this discussion, attention was raised to the fact that economy is a major barrier for technology implementation at all scales, and that technologies should thus be cheaper in order for more widespread adoption. To compound this challenge, a central point is the very large diversity in the field of organic waste in Europe, both with regard to actual waste composition as well as regional concentration and distribution.  Different European regions are therefore posed with very different challenges, therefore no one size solution fits all contexts – and currently there appears to be some gaps between research and practice – farmer’s needs are not always appropriately addressed.

At the societal scale, a central issue raised is the problem that organic waste production is almost entirely driven by a food market economy with large and growing demands for animal products and much less, if even at all, by market demands for the waste-derived products – here the role of regulation is crucial if a more cyclic economy, rather than just value-chains, should develop for waste-derived products and services, e.g. nutrients, energy and soil amelioration. This was also linked to a discussion of whether we want to, or should, either intensify further or rather de-intensify the animal production systems in Europe, in order to develop more cyclic solutions for organic waste? The role of policy is of course central, but so is the choice of consumers, and therefore appropriate incentive mechanisms (push/pull) will be key.  

The central issues raised in the discussion of barriers and challenges were reflected in opinions about what our research priorities for the future should be. For technologies, we should focus on further exploring the potential of promising technologies such as acidification for reducing nitrogen and greenhouse gas emissions, whilst the jury was split on whether biochar as a new fertiliser or soil amelioration product is over-hyped or not. Prospects were judged 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. It was clear, however, that 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.   

Thanks to all FIRe participants for your active contributions to the positive atmosphere and outcomes of our joint event!

Final annual ReUseWaste meeting held in Germany

The final annual ReUseWaste meeting was held the day after the joint scientific workshop in Germany. The fellows are now all in their final stages of their projects and the primary focus of the day was to discuss their project's status and plan the final steps before completion. The meeting was closed with a Supervisory Board meeting before an outing to nearby Erfurt.  

Research Brief 18: Fractionation of poultry litter 

Natalie Taupe, ReUseWaste fellow based at University of Limerick in Ireland has written an interesting research brief about the fractionation of poultry litter for ash and nitrogen separation. Read the research brief

Research Brief 19: Composts vs mineral fertilizers 

ReUseWaste fellow André Santos, from CSIC-CEBAS in Spain has compiled an interesting research brief entitled: Composts vs. mineral fertilisers: sustainable options for agricultural fertilisation. Read the research brief  

Upcoming events calendar

The homepage of the Biorefine Cluster Europe has an excellent calendar function to provide an overview of upcoming events of interest to the cluster's activities. Take a look at the feature here.

Newsletters 

Issue 113 of the newsletter of the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP) is out now. Read the newsletter here. A new issue of the Biorefine Bulletin is now out. Read the newsletter here

ManuREsource conference 2015: Call for abstracts  

The second edition of the ManuREsource conference, International conference on manure management and valorization, takes place on the 3th and 4th of December 2015 in Ghent, Belgium. The call for abstracts is now open. 

Participants are welcome to submit abstracts for oral or poster presentations by June 30, 2015. Abstracts are invited in on one (or more) of the following topics:

• Fertilising with manure & digestate treatment products

• Product innovations and new markets for manure & digestate

• Environmental impact of manure & digestate treatment

• Process innovations in manure & digestate treatment

• Energy production from manure

More information about the call for abstracts is now available on the conference website.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the conference secretariat: info@manuresource2015.org. We will be pleased to answer your questions anytime.



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