Title: Biowaste4SP – Turning biowaste into sustainable products: development of appropriate conversion technologies applicable in developing countries.

Type: Research collaborative project

Funding program: EC FP7 Research and Technological Development (FP7/2007-2013).

Timeframe: 10/2012-09/2015



Biowaste4SP is a research project that involves 16 partners from 10 different countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa (five African countries the study refer to), Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Turkey, Malaysia.

Biowaste4SP concerns biowaste conversion technologies into sustainable bioproducts to be implemented in developing countries. The main objective of Biowaste4SP was to develop and check feasibility-sustainability of systems-processes to convert agricultural and industrial biowaste into energy vectors, fertilizers and other added-value products in African and Mediterranean countries. Biowaste4SP fosters knowledge transfer between Europe and Africa.

The focus was on integrated processes that combine sugar conversion from mainly amylopectins and starchy materials into proteins (for food and feed) with biogas and fertilizer production done in co-digestion of municipal solid waste and manure. Left over sugars from protein production are used to produce amino acids and lactic acid by bacterial conversion of biowaste to upgrade the fertilizer and for fruit waste storage and food conservation.

An accurate survey among the African countries involved in the project has brought to the fulfillment of a catalogue that provides systematic information on various typical biowastes and bio-residues that can be used as input for the production bioethanol, biogas, fertilizers and other biomaterials. About 50 biomass samples have been studied and included in this catalogue.

The main energy sources targeted are biowaste and bioresidues, grouped into different classes i.e. sugar and nutrient-rich feedstocks. Some of the identified feedstocks are listed below:


Sugar-rich feedstocks:

  • Corn residues
  • Cassava processing – peelings
  • Pineapple processing residues
  • Olive oil processing residues
  • Rejected bananas


Nutrient-rich feedstocks:

  • Rice bran
  • Cocoa plantation residues
  • Vegetable market residues (e.g. cabbage)
  • Cattle manure
  • Soybean processing residues

Biowates4SP explored two main technology routes: the processing of sugar-rich feedstocks (sugar based platform) and the processing of nutrient-rich ones.

•               Sugar based platform: it includes a pre-treatment of the feedstock and a following bioconversion stage. The pre-treatment can include for example a wet-fractionation stage together with enzymatic hydrolysis. The second stage is bio-conversion of carbohydrates (sugars) in pretreatedfeedstocks into bioethanol with co-production of protein for feed (Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles – DDGS) and amino acids. Another option is to convert hemicellulose sugars into lactic acids or other high value amino acids by utilization of selected and modified bacterial strains.

•               Processing of nutrient-rich feedstocks: the focus here is to optimize production of high value organic fertilizer in combination with other value added products such as biogas. The outset in the project was to combine anaerobic fermentation of nutrient rich feedstocks and thereafter use this in an optimized composting process.


Bioresidues from rice production, discharged bananas not feasible for the market, cassava (peeled by hand).


Main issues include a catalogue of feasible feedstocks that can be used for producing sustainable bioproducts and a sustainability guideline for implementing biorefinery chains (

As a final issue, Biowates4SP recommended to implement a network of small-size production plants that can guarantee access to energy and create job opportunities at the local level. Feedstock availability and potential biowaste production have been represented on maps to address strategic spatial planning and develop a network of biorefinery plants relatively to the availability of resources and the needs of local communities. (

[EG]Ecodynamics Group carried out sustainability evaluation of biofuels and biomaterials production chains. Results show that cassava peels and cattle manure are the feedstocks with the highest level of renewability and the lowest environmental impacts. On the basis of the elaborated data within the project, it is possible to provide the potiental yields of ethanol for some of the evaluated feedstocks.


Biowaste quantity (t)

Bioethanol yield (t)

Olive pomace



Cassava peels



Pineapple peels



Rejected banana




Ecodynamics Group has hosted two researchers from University of Dodoma (Tanzania) and Moi University (Kenya) respectively, and has provided them the knowledge about methods used for the sustainability assessment.


Project partners.

DTI – Danish Technological Institute (Denmark)

IVL – Swedish Environmental Research Institute (Sweden)

TUBITAK – The Scientific and Technological Council of Turkey (Turkey)

SIRIM – SirimBerhad (Malaysia)

CSIR-GH – Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Ghana)

CSIR-ZA – Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa)

ARC – Agricultural Research Centre (Egypt)

IAV – Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine (Morocco)

DTU – The Technical University of Denmark (Denmark)

ETM – Ethekwini Municipality (South Africa)

MYAGRI – Myagri Group of Companies (Malaysia)

BV – Biovelop International AB (Sweden)

AMADES – Moroccan Association of Solid Waste (Morocco)

AICAD – African Institute for Capacity Development (Kenya)

WAITRO – World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (Malaysia)



Saladini F, Vuai SA, Langat BK, Gustavsson M, Bayitse R, Gidamis AB, Belmakki M, Owis AS, Rashamuse K, Sila DN, Bastianoni S. Sustainability assessment of selected biowasteas feedstocks for biofuel and biomaterial production by emergy evaluation in five African countries, Biomass and Bioenergy 85 (2015) 100-108).


Keywords: Biorefinery, Biofuels, Biowaste, Bioenergy, Bioproducts.

Methods: Emergy Evaluation, LCA


Principal investigator @EG: Fabrizio Saladini (PhD student)