Holistic Approach to Biowaste Management

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


The global population growth and the relative food demand are straining the already fragile equilibrium of natural resources. The new sector of bioeconomy is seeking to reconcile the challenges of producing more food, while, at the same, lower the environmental burden of the related activities by following the principles of sustainable development. In this context, the proper management of biowaste plays a prominent role. In fact, biowaste utilization offers the possibility to generate green energy and offset the unbalanced nutrients cycle without further depleting the natural resources. However, a linear technology driven approach largely dominates the biowaste treatment. The several biowaste types collected are treated with one single technology designed to generate mainly energy under various forms while the nutrients recycle is only marginally taken into account. This is due to the fact the products (biofuels, heat or electricity) have already a well-established market. In addition, using the climate change impact as the only indicator to measure environmental sustainability favors the development of strategies that aim at reducing GHG emissions over recycling of the nutrients. Consequentially, this approach carries the risk to lose most of the bio-waste potential due to a narrow treatment selection
and disrupt further the nutrients’ cycle.
Providentially, recent innovations (biochemicals from biogas) and new refined products integration (biochar and compost) are calling for an increasingly diverse use of the biowaste. This allows to introduce a circular holistic approach where the various products from the different biowaste types complement each other. The overall added value generated grows throughout the different process steps. Energy production and biomaterials from biowaste do not compete any longer with nutrients recycle, but they are all the side-streams
of a circular path that is built entirely from sustainable process stages. The biowaste potential is totally recovered through the cascade concept since the specific treatment technologies are selected and tailored according to the biowaste characteristics. This new approach can maximize the biowaste potential and re-balance the nutrients cycle without compromising the GHG reduction. However, in order to succeed, this particular approach must be supported by proper governmental policy instruments that promote
sustainable solutions within the circular economy. Moreover, the parameters to measure sustainability of biowaste management must also be updated. The complexity of the problem cannot be addressed by a single, though important, criteria. Standards to measure the efficiency and sustainability of nutrients recycle must also be integrated with the GHG reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventBioresources, Energy, Environment, and Materials Technology - Hongcheon-Gun, Gangwon-do, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 10 Jun 201813 Jun 2018


ConferenceBioresources, Energy, Environment, and Materials Technology
Abbreviated titleBEEM
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


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