23 June 2021

Turning urban waste streams into value-added products for cities

Cities across the world are looking for new and innovative ways to become more circular and tackle mounting challenges around urban waste. To this end, a group of European leaders have come together to ask: What if there was a way to transform carbon from urban waste to a product like a night vision camera or devices for 5G telecommunications?

A new project, in which ICLEI Europe is a partner, will develop a first-of-its kind 'biorefinery', designed to do just that. The biorefinery will turn the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and sewage sludge into goods for industries and end consumers. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of such a biorefinery at a commercial level, and will open the market to new projects and business models based on a circular vision for urban waste.

The biorefinery is a unique and integrated model, which will be implemented in two locations: ICLEI Member Zaragoza (Spain), as well as Sesto San Giovanni (Italy). By the end of the project, a commercial scale biorefinery will be in full operation, designed to treat all the biowaste produced by a medium-size city.

Speaking about the importance of such a project, Simon Clement, Senior Coordinator of Circular Economy at ICLEI Europe, said: “as a global network of local and regional governments committed to urban sustainability, we are excited to be part of this flagship project. We believe the transition from a linear to a circular economy is greatly supported by projects like these and the solidarity of local governments through commitments like the Circular Cities Declaration.”

For more information about this new venture, which is conducted in the context of the CIRCULAR BIOCARBON project, visit: