Integrated system innovation in valorising urban biowaste

Most of the biowaste produced in cities (such as garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises), as well as sewage sludge from urban wastewater treatment plants are processed into compost and biogas used for energy recovery or even landfilled without fully exploiting in a smart and innovative cascading fashion its potential as feedstock for valuable and precious compounds. New and emerging processing technologies can enable the recycling and valorisation of urban biowaste into higher-value biobased products (e.g. biobased chemicals and plastics, nutrients, human food or animal feed ingredients and proteins), thereby generating significant economic, social and environmental benefits. The successful implementation of urban biowaste recycling and valorisation technologies will require an integrated system innovation approach in a city context. Besides the technological challenges, there will be a need for public authorities to adopt new policies; changing citizens' behaviour will require social innovation initiatives, and new, profitable business models along the entire urban biowaste value chain will have to be developed.


Proposals shall focus on an integrated system innovation approach in urban biowaste recycling and valorisation for the production of high-value biobased products, including proteins for food and feed. Proposals shall ensure the full integration of the upgraded urban biowaste value chain into the existing local waste/wastewater management schemes. Proposals shall guarantee the active participation of local and regional authorities, waste/wastewater management utilities, (biobased) industries, the scientific community, local communities and citizens. Particular attention shall also be given to: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the entire urban biowaste value chain; improving logistic models taking into account changing the behaviour and participation of citizens and local communities in relation to the collection and use of this particular feedstock; increasing consumer awareness and acceptance of urban biowaste-derived products; adapting/developing business models for successful market uptake; food and feed safety aspects; regulatory aspects; and facilitating the exchange of good practices and experiences between all stakeholders.

The proposal should seek the complementarity to the projects funded under H2020 topics CIRC-05-2016, H2020 CIRC-02-2016-A and the topic BBI 2016.D6.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

In the framework of SDG no 3, 6, 9, 11, 12 and 13, the EU's Bioeconomy Strategy 2012, the EU's Circular Economy Package 2015, and the FOOD 2030 Staff Working Document, proposals shall assess their contribution to:

  • Validated technical and economic viability of the proposed approaches at target TRL 7;
  • New business and organisational models on cities ensuring the full integration of the upgraded urban biowaste value chain into the existing local waste/wastewater management schemes;
  • Improved perception of citizens on urban biowaste as a local resource and their enhanced active participation in its separate collection through social innovation initiatives;
  • Improved consumer acceptance of urban biowaste-derived products, including food and feed ingredients;
  • A more sustainable and resilient protein supply chain;
  • Safety assessment of biobased processes and products from urban biowaste;
  • Reduced amount of urban biowaste that would otherwise be incinerated or landfilled, and hence reduced environmental impact (including emissions of GHG and of air pollutants and their precursors) of municipal and food waste;
  • Detailed assessments of specific technical, regulatory, financial, market and logistical barriers hampering the full exploitation of the urban biowaste value chain;
  • Evidence-based support for EU policies/targets in the biobased and circular economy, climate mitigation, sustainable growth and re-industrialisation.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • RRI
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
Application date
Social sciences : Management and Public administration, Economy, Environmental Sciences, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Sociology