Context and objectives

Society faces a discouraging future in terms of water, food and resource scarcity, together with increasing waste generation which will get worse with a continued increase in population in future years. Biowaste, understood as biostreams and waste from different biobased sources as defined by Biobased Industries Consortium, could account for around 20% of the waste produced at EU[1]. Biowaste constitutes a significant challenge being under-utilized as potential resource of valuable chemical compounds. Turning waste into resources is key to a circular economy. In particular, biowaste valorisation is an attractive approach which can offer potentially useful alternatives for dealing with residues.

The international community is faced with a nutrient management challenge, is to say, how to reduce the amount of excess nutrients in the global environment, which leads to severe pollution of air, water, land and sea. There is a need of contribution to maximize nutrient management for global sustainable development.

From this perspective, the previously mentioned advanced valorisation strategies, enabling the recovery of valuable chemical compounds from biowaste, is the main subject in response to the transition to a sustainable and eco-friendly nutrient management. In this way the main objective of the project is to build up a breakthrough concept of Fertiliser Industry, strengthening European competitiveness and boosting the biobased economy potential in Europe, through the development of a new value chain based on nutrient recovery bioprocesses from waste streams for manufacturing biobased NPK fertilizers.

NEWFERT project involves the design and development of different enabling technologies to allow the re-use and valorisation from biowaste making them suitable as secondary raw material in the fertilizer industry.

In this sense two main processes have been developed: a more efficient technology for phosphate recovery through the production of struvite from liquid streams and a nutrient recovery process from solid waste that also provides materials for fertilizer factory.

A new family of biobased NPK fertilizers has been designed as the main project outcome, to be produced in the fertilizer factory. The obtained NPK fertilisers have been agronomically tested in trials with plants, leading to the conclusion that, overall, it is possible to substitute the conventional raw materials by the new bio-based ones, without reduction of the fertilizer efficiency.