Waste for feedstock recycling: challenges and opportunities

IEA Bioenergy Task 36 held its third series meetings and workshops in June which this time unfortunately could not be face-to-face as planned but on-line due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. These meetings were held in conjunction with Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference and allowed the task to involve in the workshop speakers from organizations in the US working within the waste and renewable energy field.

With the workshop “Waste for feedstock recycling: challenges and opportunities”, the IEA Bioenergy Task 36, Material and Energy valorisation of waste in a Circular Economy sought to raise public awareness of sustainable energy generation from biomass as well as to increase information dissemination. This workshop represents one of several workshops that focuses on resource and energy recovery from waste, which is critical to transitioning from a linear to circular economy. As outlined in the 3-year work programme, Task 36 seeks to understand what role energy from waste and material recycling can have in a circular economy and identify technical and non-technical barriers needed to achieve this vision.

The purpose of this workshop was to explore several facets of producing higher value biochemicals and bioproducts from waste streams. These questions include:

  • What waste streams are most underutilized and/or represent the best opportunity feedstocks in these type of applications?
  • Why are these waste streams currently underutilized and is it anticipated that this lack of beneficial utilization will persist into the future?
  • What are attractive intermediate or platform molecules that can be produced from waste and can serve a variety of end markets?
  • What are technical and non-technical barriers towards producing these platform molecules from waste?
  • Which technologies are most appropriate for mixed or aggregated waste streams?

In addition, this workshop explored several facets of producing higher value biochemicals and bioproducts from waste streams.

For each of these questions, and given the international audience, the workshop also sought to understand the national and local factors that underpin particular answers.

The workshop was organized by members of the US Department of Energy (USDOE) and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) conducted virtually on June 15,2020 and a report summarizing the outcomes of it will be soon released and available in the IEA Bioenergy Task 36 website (https://task36.ieabioenergy.com/iea-publications/).