SUSFERT in EU Industry Days session

Mikael Muegge answering questions from the audience at the EU Industry Days.

RTDS Group Senior Manager, and Project Manager of the CBE-JU/H2020 funded SUSFERT project, Mikael Muegge, presented at the EU Industry Days in Malaga, Spain, in October. He spoke in a parallel session titled “Unlocking the future: Bio-based materials and their potential for European industry”.

The 2023 initiative focused on Europe’s resource autonomy and resilience which necessitates the establishment of value chains that rely less on imports and are sustainable within the EU. The event held a range of plenary and parallel sessions that focused on the main drivers, opportunities and challenges of the green transition, including bio-based value chains, to boost the zero-waste circular economy.

The outreach efforts connected industrial policy makers to industry front runners to facilitate and boost the knowledge base of the EU circular economy. Match-making and expert sharing was the focus of the event.

The bio-based industries’ session on Day 1 examined sustainable materials that provide environmentally safer alternatives for products, such as fertilisers, cosmetics and packaging.

The session was chaired by Maarit Nyman, Senior Expert, Bioeconomy, Chemicals and Cosmetics, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission.

(L-r) At the lectern is Lisa Maltagliati, Deputy Head and Director for Corporate Affairs at Stora Enso and with her on the podium are: Mikael Muegge, RTDS Group Senior Manager, and Project Manager of the CBE-JU/H2020 funded SUSFERT project; Maarit Nyman, Senior Expert, Bioeconomy, Chemicals and Cosmetics, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry; Lidia Garcia, Head of Research and Development at Tecnopackaging, SL. and Aleksandra Lobnik, Co-founder of IOS and Full Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maribor.

European funded initiatives

Many European-funded initiatives focus on finding alternatives to critical minerals and fossil-based products that deliver on a reduced carbon footprint and less plastics that are harmful for the environment. SUSFERT has developed novel bio-based fertilisers that aim to replace rock phosphate in European agriculture.

Key climate laws drive bio-based fertilisers

The development of effective and efficient fertilisers is central to key climate and environmental laws. The prevention of the unnecessary loss of nutrients resulting from fertiliser leaching is key to the regulatory issues pertaining to soil, air and water.

The SUSFERT meetings and events held in Vicenza in September established that struvite is an effective alternative for localised NPK fertilisation, while phosphate solubilising bacteria are effective to release phosphorus (P). Certain bacteria also promote root growth which allows for the foraging of P.  The availability of struvite and the regulatory issues surrounding the recovery of P replacement can be read HERE.

SUSFERT plastic-free coatings from wood-based lignins and enzyme technologies have shown to be effective in having controlled release properties with a better carbon-footprint. Finally, the field trial results presented by Landlab in Italy showed that, in some cases, the effectiveness of bio-based fertilisers surpassed those of conventional farmer practice.

SUSFERT prototype registration, business, market entry

SUSFERT prototype bio-based fertilisers were presented at the EU Industry Days.

The project examined the potential of its prototype bio-based fertilisers with its Board recently, including the pathways for possible registration, business cases and market entry strategies for the Consortium’s developing partners and SMEs. The session was extremely helpful to many partners who want to exploit their results further.

The widespread use of bio-based fertilisers will be determined by their availability and price competitiveness in comparison to conventional fertilisers in particular market segments.

Market segments suitable for bio-based fertilisers

Bio-based fertilisers are interesting for the market segments of landscape turf, the hobby gardener and organic agriculture. Widespread agricultural use of bio-based based fertilisers would demand greater availability of alternative resources and a price competitiveness with conventional fertilisers. Increasingly, fertiliser products are becoming more tailor-made for different crops and soils.

Muegge spoke about these developments and challenges in the session. Essentially, regulation will be the driving force in speeding up the development of bio-based fertilisers. For example, EU laws that aim to ban the use of plastics in agriculture will drive industry initiatives to develop alternatives. SUSFERT addressed this issue HERE.

The power of people

Finally, the power of social media and the younger generation who are demanding fossil-free alternatives that are better for the environment should not be ignored. They have a big influence on their parents, peers, politics and on communities striving for change.