A Wood-to-Wood Cascade Upcycling Valorisation Approach

Duration: 01/01/2024 – 31/12/2027   |   Total Funding: € 9,996,828.65

Challenge

Wood, a naturally occurring, renewable, and biodegradable substance with impressive mechanical and thermal characteristics, is facing potential shortages in meeting the growing demand in Europe by 2030. This is attributed to its escalating utilisation in energy generation, building materials, and chemicals. Simultaneously, there is a rising volume of wood found in Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste, constituting 20-30% of the total building-related C&D, and furniture waste, with EU Member States discarding 10 million tonnes annually. Harnessing the potential of recycling these streams could offer a plentiful and cost-efficient source of raw materials.

Furthermore, waste wood streams from industrial and urban waste carry substantial amounts of fossil-based carbon from coatings, paints, plastics, and preservatives. Innovative processes, including chemical recycling, are being explored to recycle this carbon, aligning with the Processes4Planet (P4P) partnership’s emphasis on wood waste processing. Nevertheless, recycling processes face significant challenges due to the presence of additives like glues, varnishes, and paints, pollutants such as wood treatment products and heavy metals, and contaminating materials like glass, plastics, and metals. Substantial research and development efforts are required to enhance these processes.

Complicating matters are the irregular and unpredictable availability of these waste streams, the intricacies of sorting and cleaning procedures, and gaps in existing regulations that may not fully support the utilisation of upcycled wood materials. Consequently, prevailing wood waste management strategies continue to prioritise landfill and energy recovery over material recovery.

Project Objectives

1

Create and validate a comprehensive framework for the Wood-to-Wood (W2W) process, focusing on stakeholder interactions, wood characterisation, classification, valorisation, management technologies, data sharing principles, and impact assessment methods.

2

Enhance the capabilities of wood sorting mechanisms to better align with environmental and technical valorisation parameters, improving the efficiency of wood separation processes.

3

Develop sustainable and innovative technologies for upcycling waste materials, utilising cascade refinement, chemical and bioremediation processes, as well as energy, gas, and ashes valorisation. This aims to promote resource efficiency, reduce waste, and establish sustainable waste management practices.

4

Innovate approaches and digital tools to integrate life cycle thinking and advanced sustainability assessments throughout the cascade process, ensuring a holistic and environmentally conscious approach.

5

Validate W2W technologies and solutions in three distinct Use Cases, representing diverse value chains and demonstrating the applicability and effectiveness of the developed processes.

6

Boost competitiveness and advocate for sustainable practices in industries by fostering skills development, collaborative training programmes, capacity building, contributions to standards and certification schemes, policy influence, and the implementation of business models aligned with circular and sustainable processes.

W2W strives to demonstrate effective and sustainable value chains in the production of wood without pollutants, as well as the creation of bio-composite building materials, biopolymers, polyols, chemical detergents, and nutrient recovery. This comprehensive strategy aims to decrease the need for new materials, minimise waste sent to landfills or incinerators, and generate value-added products from discarded materials. W2W actively contributes to the shift towards a circular economy by advocating for closed-loop systems that prioritise the repurposing and reuse of materials, thereby prolonging their usability.

eBOS Role in the Project

eBOS has a key role in the project, focusing on creating the Integrated Circular Wood Upcycling Platform. This platform will have a user-friendly interface and include features like visualisation, control functions, AI-based optimisation, and decision-making capabilities. It’s designed to help model, simulate, and assess various aspects of wood use. The platform allows: i) Processing and analysis of data from various stages of the wood lifecycle for identifying patterns and trends that can be used to optimise cascading use strategies and minimise environmental impacts; ii) Predictive modelling of the environmental impacts of different wood waste cascading scenarios; iii) Integration with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyse the spatial distribution of wood waste sources, transportation routes, and processing facilities; and iv) Real-time monitoring of wood waste cascade strategies and adaptive management.

Apart from the technical tasks, eBOS will lead the “GDPR, Gender Balance, Legal, and Ethical Issues Management”. This means the task will focus on creating and overseeing procedures to handle ethical considerations throughout the project. The main goal is to establish ethical guidelines following the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and Data Protection rules. These guidelines will cover responsible research practices, how to select participants, and templates for consent forms. The task ensures that all project activities involving people follow GDPR and Privacy regulations by using well-crafted consent forms. Additionally, it highlights the importance of including Social Sciences and Humanities to support Responsible Research and Innovation.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.