An 11-strong European consortium has secured funding for an innovative project to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of generating waste sugars derived from household waste and producing a range of high-performance bio-based materials and products.
The VAMOS (Value Added Materials from Organic Waste Sugars) project has received €6,984,813 funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Bringing together experts from six countries, the three-year project will produce second-generation sugars from paper and card-based materials from municipal solid waste (MSW) or waste rejected from sorting and recycling processes.
The waste-derived sugar will be used to produce a range of bio-based products for non-food applications in the construction, textile, furnishings and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors; reducing reliance on first-generation agricultural sources such as sugar cane or sugar beet.
Sugar is one of the most essential raw materials for industrial bioprocessing supply chains. Addressing the challenges associated with second-generation sugars, such as higher dilution and lower purity rates, would establish a fresh, sustainable and renewable resource for the industrial bioprocessing sector.
In the consortium are five UK-based companies – Fiberight Ltd; Oakdene Hollins Ltd; Aberystwyth University Royal Charter; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine and Knauf Insulation Ltd, along with German companies EW Biotech GmbH and IFEU – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, plus Celignis Ltd (Ireland); AEP Polymers SRL (Italy); Transfercenter fur Kunststofftechnik GmbH (Austria) and Novozymes A/S (Denmark).
By recovering and adding value to waste derived from lignocellulosic feedstock, the project aims to:
- Reduce the levels of waste being sent to landfill
- Reduce environmental plastic pollution levels
- Reduce the amount of suitable food-producing land diverted to first-generation sugar production
- Increase sustainability in key sectors such as construction
- Support a reduction in the current high price of bio-based materials
Central to the VAMOS project will be the use of technology developed by lead technical partner Fiberight, which has developed a novel and patented process to recover a variety of recyclable materials and resources from residual wastes, providing a complete waste management solution for the circular economy.
Nick Thompson, Managing Director of Fiberight, said: “Securing this important EU funding enables us to take our promising pilot-scale work over the last five years to the next stage and demonstrate its commercial viability as an economically and environmentally sustainable process.”
Due to be completed by August 2022, the VAMOS project expects to demonstrate the potential for new markets by converting the organic fraction of waste normally destined for landfill into bioproducts.
Magnus Wiman, Head of Biomass Technology at Novozymes, said: “The project aims to deliver competitive, sustainable, affordable and high-performance bio-based materials from these low-value residual waste sugars. In doing so, the VAMOS project will revolutionise the sector by creating new cross-sector value chains.”