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Division of Environment and Natural Resources

Sustainable recycling of organic waste resources in the future bioeconomy

Finished Last updated: 07.12.2022
End: dec 2021
Start: jan 2017

Optimal utilisation of waste resources will be indispensable in the future bioeconomy. In this strategical institute programme, we aim at contributing to the future bioeconomy by providing new knowledge on sustainable use of waste resources as fertiliser in agriculture.

Status Active
Start - end date 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021
Project manager Anne Falk Øgaard
Division Division of Environment and Natural Resources
Department Bioresources and Recycling Technologies
Budget this year NOK 3.15 mill
Funding source Norwegian Research Council (Grant number 194051)

Even though organic waste resources can contain large amounts of nutrients, which can be utilised for the production of new crops, currently they are not efficiently recycled. 

Waste resources are complex materials that are strongly varying in terms of composition, quantity and quality. Several barriers will have to be overcome to realise efficient nutrient cycling.

One of them is the large geographical distance between areas with nutrient surplus and areas in need of nutrients. To utilise nturients in waste resources, they have to be transported to where they are needed.

Large amounts of water in many waste resources, however, results in transport being costly and unsustainable, as well as in difficulties related to handling and application as fertiliser

Also, unknown quality of waste resources as fertiliser is often hindering efficient and environmentally friendly use.

Waste resources can contain environmental pollutants and pathogenic microorganisms. Especially microplastics have lately received gained focus.

Also, acceptance of waste resources as fertiliser by farmers is unknown, and nutrient recycling can lead to environmental problem shifting.

In this project we aim at providing new knowledge to contribute to solving these challenges, and to promote the sustainable use of organic waste resources as fertiliser in agriculture. 

The project is divided into 5 work packages:

Work package 1: Sustainable concentration/separation of nutrients

- Work package 2: Use of organic waste resources as fertiliser

- Work package 3: Microplastics and other undesirable components

- Work package 4: Socioeconomic barriers and decision support

- Work package 5 is dedicated to project coordination and dissemination. Work package leader: Eva Brod

Publications in the project

To document


While tire wear and tear is known to be a major source of microplastics in the environment, its monitoring is still hampered by the lack of analytical methods able to provide concentrations in environmental matrices. Tirewear particles (TWP) present in road runoff enter the drainage system through gully pots, built to prevent sediment deposition in the drainage system, and eventually protect downstream receiving waters. The aim of this study was to detect and quantify TWP in gully pot sediments, by using a novel method combining Simultaneous Thermal Analysis (STA), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC). The method was applied to samples from five sites in Southern Norway, characterized by different traffic densities and patterns. The method involved no sample pretreatment, the whole sediment samplewas submitted to thermal decomposition in STA, and gases generated during pyrolysis were continuously transferred to FTIR. The FTIR data were arranged in a trilinearmulti-way dataset (samples × IR spectra wavenumber × pyrolysis temperature) and then analyzed by PARAFAC. The results showed that TWP concentrations in gully pots varied greatly across sites, ranging frombelow1 mgTWP/g sediment in streetswith the lowest traffic densities, to 150 mgTWP/g sediment at themost trafficked study site. The results also indicated that other traffic conditions, such as driving patterns influence TWP concentrations. Finally, by enabling quantification of TWP in gully pot sediments, the approach presented here supports environmental monitoring of TWP and safe disposal of gully pot sediments, which is critical for environmental pollution management.

To document


The blackwater stream of domestic wastewater contains energy and the majority of nutrients that can contribute to a circular economy. Hygienically safe and odor-free nutrient solution produced from anaerobically treated source-separated blackwater through an integrated post-treatment unit can be used as a source of liquid fertilizer. However, the high water content in the liquid fertilizer represents a storage or transportation challenge when utilized on agricultural areas, which are often situated far from the urban areas. Integration of microalgae into treated source-separated blackwater (BW) has been shown to effectively assimilate and recover phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) in the form of green biomass to be used as slow release biofertilizer and hence close the nutrient loop. With this objective, a lab-scale flat panel photobioreactor was used to cultivate Chlorella sorokiniana strain NIVA CHL 176 in a chemostat mode of operation. The growth of C. sorokiniana on treated source-separated blackwater as a substrate was monitored by measuring dry biomass concentration at a dilution rate of 1.38 d−1, temperature of 37 °C and pH of 7. The results indicate that the N and P recovery rates of C. sorokiniana were 99 mg N L−1d−1 and 8 mg P L−1d−1 for 10% treated BW and reached 213 mg N L−1d−1 and 35 mg P L−1d−1, respectively when using 20% treated BW as a substrate. The corresponding biomass yield on light, N and P on the 20% treated BW substrate were 0.37 g (mol photon)−1, 9.1 g g−1 and 54.1 g g−1, respectively, and up to 99% of N and P were removed from the blackwater.


Resirkulering av organisk avfall er et prioritert tema innen sektorene landbruk, klima og avfall, og skal bidra til at organisk materiale og næringsstoffer føres tilbake til jord. Dette kan motvirke en langsiktig trend der moldinnholdet i matjorda gradvis blir lavere, noe som ser ut til å bli et økende problem i forbindelse med klimaendringer og økende behov for mat. Tilbakeføring av næringsstoffene i organisk avfall skal på sin side bidra til å redusere behovet for mineralgjødsel, og dermed minske behovet for energikrevende gjødselproduksjon og uttømming av begrensete ressurser av mineralsk fosfat.


Mikroplast hoper seg opp i matjord. Ingen vet hvor mye det er av den, og det finnes ikke teknologi som kan stoppe den helt. Forsker Claire Coutris på Nibio har sett på forskning på plast over hele verden. Plasten i havet har fått mye oppmerksomhet, men problemet er stort i matjord, også. Siden 1950-tallet er det produsert 8,3 milliarder tonn plast i verden. Mesteparten av den har havnet enten i naturen eller på fyllinga. Mikroplasten – partikler som er mindre enn fem millimeter store – kommer i jorda blant annet når bonden gjødsler. Når matavfall blir til biogass, så blir det igjen det som kalles «biorest». Den kan brukes som god og næringsrik gjødsel. Anleggene bruker separasjonsteknologi for å ta ut fremmedelementer i matavfallet, som glass, plast og metall. Likevel skjer det at mindre plastfragmenter fra matemballasje og annen feilsortert søppel følger med i bioresten.


Vi har alle hørt om problemene plast i havet kan føre med seg. Men plast havner også i jord, blant annet via avløpsslam, biogjødsel og fra plastbruk i landbruket. Akkurat hvor mye plast det er snakk om er imidlertid uvisst.


Vi har alle hørt om problemene plast i havet kan føre med seg. Men plast havner også i jord, blant annet via avløpsslam, biogjødsel og fra plastbruk i landbruket. Akkurat hvor mye plast det er snakk om, er imidlertid uvisst.


Vi har alle hørt om problemene plast i havet kan føre med seg. Men plast havner også i jord, blant annet via avløpsslam, biogjødsel og fra plastbruk i landbruket. Akkurat hvor mye plast det er snakk om, er imidlertid uvisst.