The work carried out in SYSTEMIC will bring many environmental and societal benefits.
In our current predominantly linear economy, based on finite resource extraction and waste disposal, nutrient usage is inefficient and large amounts of nutrients are lost through incineration of waste or through emissions of nutrients to the environment, resulting often in water and air pollution.
Within a circular economy, biowaste is considered as a source of energy, organic matter and nutrients including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These nutrients are valuable and, in the case of P, non-renewable. The recovered nitrogen (N) can be used to replace current synthetic N-fertilizers, thereby substantially reducing CO2 emissions associated with the production of synthetic N-fertilizers. The recovered phosphorus (P), an essential plant nutrient, can be used to replace current mineral P-fertilizers thereby reducing Europe’s dependency on external and non-renewable P-reserves. The remaining organic matter forms a valuable soil amendment that can be used in nearby region, thereby substantially reducing CO2-emissions associated with transport.
Overall, this circular approach offers an economically viable solution for the processing of biowaste, while reducing CO2 emissions and preventing nutrient losses.