Circular biocarbon project secures 15 M€ to build the first European refinery for municipal solid waste and sewage sludge

Urbaser, a global environmental management company, and their subsidiary Socamex, will lead a pan-European CIRCULAR BIOCARBON project, launched in summer 2021. The project aims to build the first biorefinery for municipal solid waste and sewage sludge in Europe. Spinverse supported Urbaser at the project proposal phase. As a result of a successful grant application, the circular biocarbon project will be partially funded by 15 M€ from Bio-based Industries (BBI) Joint Undertaking subsidy provided by the European Commission.

Even though the recycling of waste has improved a lot in the past decades, municipal solid waste (MSW) still contains a large part of organic fraction (OFMSW) that is not used efficiently. Instead, it ends up being incinerated with the MSW or sent to landfills. By means of biorefinery, OFMSW can be managed more efficiently in terms of circular economy.

The five-year CIRCULAR BIOCARBON project with an overall budget of 23 M€ aims to turn carbon of complex organic urban waste streams into value-added products. The project consortium includes 11 partners from five European countries including Spain, Italy, Denmark, France, and Germany. Thanks to its capacity for replication, this initiative is a remarkable milestone for the whole of Europe.

The biorefinery project is the first of its kind in Europe, to be built and operated on an industrial scale. The building of the refinery commences in 2021 at Urbaser’s R&D&I center in Zaragoza, Spain, and aims to recover the organic fraction of MSW and sewage sludge for the production of value-added consumer products. The potential products are related to fertilisers, bioplastics, diamond-like carbon coatings, graphene and a number of other intermediate products such as proteins, struvite, algal bio-stimulants, and ammonium salts.

Spinverse supported with the winning project proposal

Spinverse experts participated in the application phase of the CIRCULAR BIOCARBON project by supporting the planning and preparation of the funding application. Spinverse’s wide European network also helped the project to invite suitable partners to the project.

Regarding Spinverse’s role, Project Manager Yolanda Ballesteros from Socamex says: "Spinverse greatly contributed to the configuration of an excellent consortium, providing their expertise and advice in order to get a final industry-oriented team, which succeeded in the achievement of a funded BBI flagship project."

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