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Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2023) | Viewed by 14015

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Engineering for Environment, Land and Infrastructures (DIATI), Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy
Interests: sustainability assessments and instruments (life cycle assessments, carbon footprint, sustainability indicators); waste management (municipal solid waste, industrial waste, end-of-life vehicles, e-waste); anaerobic digestion; municipal and hazardous waste disposal; valorization of bottom ash; water and wastewater treatment; energy efficiency and GHG emissions of the urban water cycle
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Guest Editor
Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), Department of Microbiome Biotechnology, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Interests: industrial biotechnology; bioconversion; bioengineering; bioprocesses; biomass and residues; biorefineries; microbial conversion processes; microbiology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
1. Institute for Sustainable Chemistry, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, 21331 Lueneburg, Germany
2. Institute for Food and Environmental Research (ILU), 14802 Bad Belzig, Germany
Interests: circular economy; biorefineries; waste treatment; water and wastewater treatment; economic and environmental assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We encourage you to submit papers for a Special Issue of Sustainability focused on Techno-sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy.

Biowaste—mainly food and garden waste—is the largest single component (34 %) of municipal solid waste in the European Union (EU). About 60 % of biowaste is food waste. Approximately 88 Mt (173 kg per person) of food is wasted every year in EU along the entire food value chain, corresponding to one fifth of all food produced. The European Commission´s (EC) strategy on circular economy has introduced a number of targets and provisions that will support the prevention and sustainable management of biowaste. The United Nations Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals' target of halving food waste by 2030 has helped to put preventing food waste high on the policy agenda in most EU countries. On the other hand, the recycling of biowaste is pivotal for meeting the EC target to recycle 65 % of municipal waste by 2035.

In 2018, the revised Waste Framework Directive introduced an obligation of biowaste separate collection in all the EU by 2023. Composting is the main treatment option in the EU for separately collected biowaste, but anaerobic digestion, with biogas production, is increasing. However, a high proportion of biowaste still ends up in the mixed waste that is incinerated, even in many countries with well-established separate collection systems. To enable biowaste to be used as a source of high-quality fertiliser and soil improver as well as feedstock for the biotechnological production value-added chemicals, it needs to be collected separately at source while keeping impurity levels low. Contamination with plastics is a growing concern, and plastics need to be prevented from entering biowaste. More and more plastic consumer products are labelled as 'compostable' or 'biodegradable', and there has been a proliferation of different labels, confusing consumers, contaminating compost and increasing the costs of treatment. Quality standards and quality assurance processes for compost, digestate, fertilisers and soil improvers as well as fermentation media help to build trust in them and are an integral part of a good biowaste management system. An EU requirement to implement quality assurance systems would improve trust in and awareness of the value of biowaste. Research and innovation increasingly explore the opportunities for using biowaste, mainly from food processing, as a new source of higher-value products such as volatile fatty acids and biofuels, but many challenges remain.

Compared to existing literature, we would like to offer to Sustainability’s audience new insights on the optimization of the efficiency, economic sustainability and environmental and social impacts of biowaste management. Case studies that consider pilot or full-scale applications of innovative technologies are welcome for this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Silvia Fiore
Dr. Joachim Venus
Prof. Dr. Daniel Pleissner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • food waste prevention
  • biowaste separate collection
  • composting (challenges and quality assurance)
  • anaerobic digestion of biowaste
  • biorefinery processes based on biowaste
  • digestate valorization (challenges and quality assurance)

Published Papers (9 papers)

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17 pages, 653 KiB  
Article
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to Evaluate Sustainability and Circularity in Agricultural Waste Management
by Patrizia Lombardi and Elena Todella
Sustainability 2023, 15(20), 14878; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152014878 - 14 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1354
Abstract
Agriculture is a major contributor to global anthropogenic emissions, such as waste production and greenhouse gases. In order to reduce these negative impacts, a circular economy should be applied to agriculture waste management. Processes for evaluating treatment and valorization options are fundamental to [...] Read more.
Agriculture is a major contributor to global anthropogenic emissions, such as waste production and greenhouse gases. In order to reduce these negative impacts, a circular economy should be applied to agriculture waste management. Processes for evaluating treatment and valorization options are fundamental to the implementation of long-term, economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially acceptable policies and practices. In this field, multi-criteria decision analysis methods (MCDAs) can offer a holistic perspective on the decision-making processes. This study deeply explores this area of research by conducting an extensive and critical review of the studies that have used MCDA approaches to support agricultural waste management. The aim is to better understand how MCDA methods have been applied (in an integrated manner or as complementary approaches) and how stakeholders have been involved. The research conducted underlines how MCDAs are now widely used to support decision-making in this area, as well as being increasingly applied in multi-methodologies. This study is part of an ongoing Next-Generation-EU-integrated, large-scale, multi-disciplinary research program, The National Research Centre for Agricultural Technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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11 pages, 430 KiB  
Article
Utilization of Brewer’s Spent Grains and Agricultural Residues in Pig Feed Formation
by Tanja Stahn, Regina Storandt, Sandra Grebenteuch, Sascha Rohn, Detlef May, Claudia Dolsdorf and Daniel Pleissner
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13774; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813774 - 15 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 770
Abstract
In this study, brewer’s spent grains (BSG)-raw matrix was technologically and functionally improved by adding natural active ingredient carriers (crushed wheat, rapeseed, and pumpkin seed press cake) and using planetary roller extrusion and used as feed additive for pigs. Feeding trials were run [...] Read more.
In this study, brewer’s spent grains (BSG)-raw matrix was technologically and functionally improved by adding natural active ingredient carriers (crushed wheat, rapeseed, and pumpkin seed press cake) and using planetary roller extrusion and used as feed additive for pigs. Feeding trials were run for 189 days using 60 pigs with an age of 28 days. Pigs were grouped in a control group (fed with organic basic feed) and two experimental groups (fed with BSG 1 or BSG 2 in addition to organic basic feed). The 20 animals per group gained similar weight in the control group (306 g day−1 and 725 g day−1) and in the group fed with BSG 1 (282 g day−1 and 627 g day−1) or BSG 2 (250 g day−1 598 g day−1) in addition during rearing and fattening phases, respectively. Carcass evaluation revealed that meat quality did not differ between control and experimental groups. The BSG-based feed formulations tested seem to not result in negative effects on weight gain nor on meat quality. Animals were generally of good health and marketable quality, and thus the outcomes of this study are expected to contribute to an improved utilization strategy of brewer’s spent grains from breweries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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16 pages, 1526 KiB  
Article
Optimization of Operating Parameters for Two-Phase Anaerobic Digestion Treating Slaughterhouse Wastewater for Biogas Production: Focus on Hydrolytic–Acidogenic Phase
by Dejene Tsegaye, Mohammed Mazharuddin Khan and Seyoum Leta
Sustainability 2023, 15(6), 5544; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15065544 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1753
Abstract
In a two-phase anaerobic digestion process, enhanced biogas production and organic pollutant removal depend on the stability and performance of the hydrolytic–acidogenic and methanogenic phases. Additionally, the hydrolytic–acidogenic phase is a rate-limiting step, which calls for the further optimization of operating parameters. The [...] Read more.
In a two-phase anaerobic digestion process, enhanced biogas production and organic pollutant removal depend on the stability and performance of the hydrolytic–acidogenic and methanogenic phases. Additionally, the hydrolytic–acidogenic phase is a rate-limiting step, which calls for the further optimization of operating parameters. The objective of this study was to optimize the operating parameters of the hydrolytic–acidogenic reactor (HR) in the two-phase anaerobic digestion treating slaughterhouse wastewater. The experiment was carried using bench-scale sequential bioreactors. The hydrolytic–acidogenic reactor operating parameters were optimized for six different hydraulic retention times (HRTs) (6–1 day) and organic loading rates (OLRs) (894.41 ± 32.56–5366.43 ± 83.80 mg COD/L*day). The degree of hydrolysis and acidification were mainly influenced by lower HRT (higher OLR), and the highest values of hydrolysis and acidification were 63.92% and 53.26% at an HRT of 3 days, respectively. The findings indicated that, at steady state, the concentrations of soluble chemical oxygen demand (SCOD) and total volatile fatty acids (TVFAs) decrease as HRT decreases and OLR increases from HRTs of 3 to 1 day and 894.41–1788.81 mg COD/L*day, respectively, and increase as the HRT decreases from 6 to 4 days. The concentration of NH4+-N ranges from 278.67 to 369.46 mg/L, which is not in the range that disturbs the performance and stability of the hydrolytic acidogenic reactor. It was concluded that an HRT of 3 days and an ORL of 1788.81 mg COD/L*day were selected as optimal operating conditions for the high performance and stability of the two-phase anaerobic digestion of slaughterhouse wastewater in the hydrolytic–acidogenic reactor at a mesophilic temperature. The findings of this study can be applicable for other agro-process industry wastewater types with similar characteristics and biowaste for value addition and sustainable biowaste management and safe discharge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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26 pages, 2254 KiB  
Article
Potential for Sustainable Production of Natural Colorants in the Tropical Forest: A Biorefinery Case of Annatto Seeds
by Tatiana Agudelo Patiño, Jhonny Alejandro Poveda-Giraldo, Manuel Haminton Salas Moreno, Gysela Rengifo Mosquera and Carlos Ariel Cardona Alzate
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3079; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043079 - 08 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Tropical forests are a source of several high-value products that provide livelihood to small communities in different regions. Exotic fruits such as annatto are feedstock sources containing bioactive compounds with important applications in the food industry. Nevertheless, the integral use of annatto for [...] Read more.
Tropical forests are a source of several high-value products that provide livelihood to small communities in different regions. Exotic fruits such as annatto are feedstock sources containing bioactive compounds with important applications in the food industry. Nevertheless, the integral use of annatto for community improvement and the crop’s contribution to carbon sequestration in tropical forests have not been analyzed. This paper aims to demonstrate the economic and environmental performance of small-scale alternatives to obtain natural colorants using annatto seed. The extraction of natural colorants (bixin and norbixin) was analyzed using ethanol and NaOH as solvents. The experimental results were used to simulate two scenarios. Scenario one involved bixin production, and scenario two comprised bixin and norbixin production. The economic and environmental assessments were performed considering the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology based on a Colombian context. The best extraction yield was 72.65 mg g−1 for bixin and 193.82 mg g−1 for norbixin. From a simulation perspective, scenario two showed the best economic performance since a payback period of 3.1 years was obtained. The LCA showed a high CO2 sequestration potential (6.5 kg CO2 eq kg−1 seed) of the annatto crop. Moreover, the solvents used during the colorant extraction proved to be the most environmentally representative. Nevertheless, the CO2 sequestration of the crop continues to exceed the emissions generated by the process. This work demonstrates that the annatto is an alternative for small communities to reach equilibrium between the economic and environmental of the tropical forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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13 pages, 749 KiB  
Article
Application of Entropy-Based Ecologic Indicators for Intrinsic Sustainability Assessment of EU27 Member States Waste Management Systems at Technosphere Level
by Francesco Di Maria and Amani Maalouf
Sustainability 2023, 15(1), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15010833 - 03 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1489
Abstract
Starting from the specific entropy (SE) indicator, which is well exploited by ecologists for investigating the status of health and the development tendency of ecosystems, a specific entropy per amount of exergy gained (SEEG) was proposed in this study for assessing the intrinsic [...] Read more.
Starting from the specific entropy (SE) indicator, which is well exploited by ecologists for investigating the status of health and the development tendency of ecosystems, a specific entropy per amount of exergy gained (SEEG) was proposed in this study for assessing the intrinsic sustainability of systems in the technosphere. According to the SE, the lower the SEEG indicator, the higher the intrinsic sustainability of the investigated system. This indicator was used for assessing the intrinsic sustainability of the main waste management (WM) systems of the different EU27 member states (MS). The main findings demonstrate average values of SEEG of about 0.0026 and 0.009 for composting and recycling, respectively. For incineration and landfilling, SEEG was 1.310 and 1.333, respectively. This indicates that incineration activity has a lower intrinsic sustainability. Concerning WM systems, lower values of SEEG were detected for EU 27 MS with recycling and composting percentages of waste >55%. Therefore, the maximization of percentages of waste recycled and composted, as well as solid recovered fuel production, are preferred over incineration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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17 pages, 3457 KiB  
Article
Pyrolytic Conversion of Vomitoxin-Contaminated Corn into Value-Added Products
by Shokooh Karami, Sadegh Papari, Naomi B. Klinghoffer and Franco Berruti
Sustainability 2022, 14(19), 12842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912842 - 08 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1373
Abstract
Deoxynivalenol (DON) (also called vomitoxin) is a mycotoxin caused by pathogens that periodically contaminate crops such as maize, wheat, barley, oats, and rye, making them unusable. We explored pyrolysis as a process for the decontamination of vomitoxin-corn grains and their transformation into value-added [...] Read more.
Deoxynivalenol (DON) (also called vomitoxin) is a mycotoxin caused by pathogens that periodically contaminate crops such as maize, wheat, barley, oats, and rye, making them unusable. We explored pyrolysis as a process for the decontamination of vomitoxin-corn grains and their transformation into value-added products. Pyrolysis was carried out in a bench-scale batch reactor at maximum temperatures between 450 and 650 °C. This resulted in the total destruction of DON, from 5–7 ppm in raw corn grains to non-detectable levels in the treated bio-char. The effect of pyrolysis conditions, including temperature and heating rate, on the conversion of toxic corn grains was investigated. The maximum bio-oil yield was achieved at 650 °C (47 wt.%). The co-products were bio-char (29 wt.%) and non-condensable gases (24 wt.%). Acetic acid and levoglucosan were the two major valuable components in the bio-oil, corresponding to 26 g/kg and 13 g/kg of bio-oil, respectively. The bio-chars were analyzed and upgraded by physical activation using CO2 at 900 °C. Activation increased the bio-char surface area to 419 m2g−1 and promoted pore development, which was verified by SEM. Proximate analysis illustrated that stable carbon increased to 88.8% after activation compared to 10.9% in the raw corn. FT-IR results showed that the thermally unstable functional groups had been completely eliminated after activation. All characterization results confirmed that the activated corn bio-char has excellent potential for adsorption processes. The HHV of the non-condensable gas stream was 16.46 MJ/Nm3, showing the potential application of this product as an energy source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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14 pages, 1675 KiB  
Article
Environmental Performance Reporting and Assessment of the Biodegradable Waste Treatment Plants Registered to EMAS in Italy
by Stefano Castelluccio, Claudio Comoglio and Silvia Fiore
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7438; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127438 - 17 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1604
Abstract
This study investigates how the environmental performances of biodegradable waste (e.g., organic fraction of municipal solid waste, green waste, agro-industrial waste) treatment plants are reported and how their improvement is planned by the managing companies, and assesses current key quantitative data versus the [...] Read more.
This study investigates how the environmental performances of biodegradable waste (e.g., organic fraction of municipal solid waste, green waste, agro-industrial waste) treatment plants are reported and how their improvement is planned by the managing companies, and assesses current key quantitative data versus the Best Available Techniques associated emission levels (BAT-AELs). Based on their Environmental Statements (ESs), 16 installations registered to EMAS in Italy in 2021 were analyzed. A set of 15 technical-environmental-social key aspects was described through 131 different indicators. Emissions to air, odor emissions, energy consumption/production, waste production and water consumption were the only key aspects considered significant and quantified by at least 50% of the ESs. Improvement targets were set by 38% of the companies for process management, and by 25% for emissions to air, for a total allocated budget of 25.2 M€. Odor emissions were mostly below the lower BAT-AELs, while NH3 concentration values were slightly above the lower BAT-AELs, demonstrating good performance levels and an overall improvement trend in the period 2018–2020 (−6% and −33.6%, respectively). This study provides interesting hints on the environmental performances of biodegradable waste treatment plants, also contributing to raise the trust of the wide public towards this waste treatment sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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16 pages, 3388 KiB  
Article
Modelling and Environmental Profile Associated with the Valorization of Wheat Straw as Carbon Source in the Biotechnological Production of Manganese Peroxidase
by Sandra González-Rodríguez, Ana Arias, Gumersindo Feijoo and Maria Teresa Moreira
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084842 - 18 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1704
Abstract
Interest in the development of biorefineries and biotechnological processes based on renewable resources has multiplied in recent years. This driving force is the result of the availability of lignocellulosic biomass and the range of applications that arise from its use and valorization. The [...] Read more.
Interest in the development of biorefineries and biotechnological processes based on renewable resources has multiplied in recent years. This driving force is the result of the availability of lignocellulosic biomass and the range of applications that arise from its use and valorization. The approach of second-generation sugars from lignocellulosic biomass opens up the possibility of producing biotechnological products such as enzymes as a feasible alternative in the framework of biorefineries. It is in this context that this manuscript is framed, focusing on the modelling of a large-scale fermentative biotechnological process to produce the enzyme manganese peroxidase (MnP) by the fungus Irpex lacteus using wheat straw as a carbon source. The production scheme is based on the sequence of four stages: pretreatment of wheat straw, seed fermenters, enzyme production and downstream processes. For its environmental assessment, the Life Cycle Assessment methodology, which allows the identification and quantification of environmental impacts associated with the process, was utilized. As the main finding, the stages of the process with the highest environmental burdens are those of pretreatment and fermentation, mainly due to energy requirements. With the aim of proposing improvement scenarios, sensitivity analyses were developed around the identified hotspots. An improvement in the efficiency of steam consumption leads to a reduction of environmental damage of up to 30%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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7 pages, 390 KiB  
Case Report
Algae Cultivation as Measure for the Sanitation of Organic Waste—A Case Study Based on the Alga Galdieria sulphuraria Grown on Food Waste Hydrolysate in a Continuous Flow Culture
by Daniel Pleissner and Nicole Händel
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14313; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914313 - 28 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1006
Abstract
Due to its growth under harsh acidic conditions, the microalga Galdieria sulphuraria may offer the opportunity to combine sanitation and the utilization of organic waste streams. To further deepen the knowledge of alternative waste treatment strategies that allow for holistic utilization, the control [...] Read more.
Due to its growth under harsh acidic conditions, the microalga Galdieria sulphuraria may offer the opportunity to combine sanitation and the utilization of organic waste streams. To further deepen the knowledge of alternative waste treatment strategies that allow for holistic utilization, the control and removal of microbial contaminants via non-sterile heterotrophic G. sulphuraria on food waste hydrolysate were investigated in a continuous flow bioreactor culture. Furthermore, a substrate reservoir and harvested biomass were stored under non-sterile conditions over a period of 12 days. Despite the non-sterile conditions, the microbial load of the biomass could be kept under control. Neither the pathogen Salmonella sp. nor the coliform bacteria Escherichia coli could be found. Only nine counts per g of biomass were found for species belonging to Enterococcus spp., Enterobacteriacae, and moulds. Aerobic spore formers were counted with 2700 counts per g of biomass. Most of the aerobic mesophilic counts were formed by yeasts (1.5 × 106 vs. 1.3 × 106 counts per g biomass). The results revealed that, when using acidic growth conditions, contamination will not take over the culture; thus, the sterilization of waste materials can be skipped. It is assumed that such an approach can result in efficient processes for future waste-based bioeconomy strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Techno-Sustainable Biowaste Management Strategy)
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