5e topics

with global population growth, increasing urbanization and consumption, the lack of proper disposal and circular economy) the growing amount of waste or residues (waste is nothing but residual parts of resources used for production and consumption) due to lack of circular economies and proper disposal has become a significant environmental  and social challenge. However, this also presents a significant opportunity for roll-out of proven solutions, innovation of new materials and processes, new circular economy concepts and technologies, to contribute to new economic solutions and waste reduction. Based on residue type (solid, liquid, gaseous, air-borne; organic, inorganic, or a combination; hazardous vs. non-hazardous), many different materials occur as waste residues in industrial, commercial, and agricultural processes (pre-consumer) as well as through consumption (post-consumer). In most cases, such waste residues still contain valuable resources (materials as well as energy). Three considerations are important and can lead to new opportunities as well as solutions:

  • waste avoidance (let`s find economic ways to avoid or reduce the waste by working with different materials or processes)
  • waste utilization or “circular economy” (lets recapture the value contained in waste):  this means the reintegration of residues into supply and value chains via material conversion, or as energy via thermal conversion and requires suitable technologies and/or concepts, matched with understanding of relevant markets, business and regulations
  • waste remediation (lets clean up the waste)

Special focus:

organic biomass waste

Organic biomass waste occurs in agriculture, landscaping, industrial/commercial processes, retail and post consumption (food waste). Once organic residues are no longer usable for human or animal food, or food production, they represent a residue for disposal. Disposing such solid or liquid residues to disposal on landfills or natural or artificial lagoons, starts a fermentation process. This process releases energy into the atmosphere via greenhouse gases such as methane, and produces leachate, acidic and harmful for soil and groundwater. The biomass residues however contain energy, valuable carbon, micro-organisms and nutrients, and with that, opportunities.

In many regions, the large amount of solid and liquid animal manure, which is generated from rapidly growing large scale live-stock farming, urgently requires sustainable solutions. While agricultural soil can sustainably absorb a certain amount of animal manure, run-offs from the farms, or taking such large quantities of manure directly to fields, have been contributing to over-nitrification of soil and groundwater, acidification and oxygen loss of coastal regions contributing to vastly growing so-called dead zones in the ocean. Animal manure contains energy and nutrients which can be recaptured to produce gas, power, and biofertilizer.  Attention however also has to be paid to hormones and antibiotics contained in manure of modern large scale farming.

While there currently available successful proven technologies and concepts for organic waste, new circular economy business concepts, solutions and cost-improved technologies are needed which improve economics as well as environment. See also sustainable farming and water.

Subject to feedstock, identified business and investment case, following solutions can create successful circular economy while offering greenhouse emissions reduction potential.

  • production of biomethane and biofertilizer via anaerobic digestion (AD)
  • production of biochar for natural soil- and harvest improvement, via pyrolysis
  • production of biofuel/biodiesel via esterification

 

View 5e platform for examples.

municipal solid waste (mixed organic and inorganic)

MSW as an end-of-the stream waste source, is a significant opportunity as it is a resource in form of reusable materials and energy. However, mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) is the most complex solid waste to deal with, as it contains a multitude of different materials, and has different characteristics subject to geographic regions. To find the right approach suitable for waste material and economics, often an integrated solution of multiple technologies is required. MSW in less developed countries has the additional complexity of sometimes containing hazardous waste components (even small items can contaminate large amounts of waste, making the organic fraction not usable for reclaiming compost) and very high moisture content (reducing calorific value for effective thermal conversion). In addition, some technologies are only feasible when implemented in large volume (economies of scale), while sometimes long transport of smaller waste amount is not feasible, so that decentralized, smaller solutions are needed.
For end-of-stream solutions: Apart from experienced technology providers and operators, to get the project off the ground requires expertise to match the right technology(ies) with waste type and country framework, ability to secure local land and permits, solid supply and off-take agreements, and to de-risk the contracts adequately, in order to attract adequate financing and investment. If municipal solid waste remains deposited on unsanitary landfills, it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of ground water, canals and rivers, and ultimately oceans. If municipal solid waste remains deposited on unsanitary landfills, it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of ground water, canals and rivers, and ultimately oceans.  Below solutions have been implemented successfully to create sustainable circular economy for end-of-stream MSW.

  • production of energy, compost, and recyclables via mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) and anaerobic digestion (AD)
  • production of energy (power and heat/cooling, or syn-gas), and recyclables, from refuse-derived-fuel (RDF) via thermal conversion (emission-controlled incineration and gasification); includes significant pre-treatment of MSW
  • production of energy (power and heat/cooling, or syn-gas), and recyclables, through mass-burning of MSW via thermal conversion (emission-controlled incineration and gasification); includes only basic pre-sorting of MSW
  • production of energy and recyclables via integrated solutions of above

 

Challenge is opportunity: A wider roll-out of proven solutions, new processes and materials for beginning and mid -of-production-streams, circular economy -business concepts and cost-improved technologies for end-of-stream, are needed, to reduce the amount of MSW, and use MSW as a valuable resource.

View 5e platform for examples.

 

textile waste (cotton, synthetic, blended fibers)

The textile industry produces significant amounts of cotton, synthetic and blended textile fiber waste (pre- and post-consumer) which represents a significantly underutilized resource. While efforts toward more sustainability in the textile industry (waste reduction/avoidance, circular economy) have started, they are in early stages. With few recycling solutions in place, most pre- and post-consumer textile waste these materials still end up in incinerators or on landfills, in textile producing and consuming countries.  While this waste is a valuable resource, it is also a complex material, due to the blending of different fibers into one material.  Pre-consumer textile waste (textile cuttings) can be separated easier by fiber type, and hence represents a significant opportunity to produce recycled cotton yarn which can be added to virgin cotton for selected target fibers, as well as recycled polyester yarn. Business cases can be very attractive, but very dependent on matching fiber quality with suitable target products and on market prices of cotton as well as oil (virgin material for synthetic fiber).  Mixed fiber waste has been successfully used as feedstock for insulation materials.

The challenge to reduce textile waste represents an opportunity to roll-out proven solutions, for new processes and materials for beginning- and mid-of-production-streams, for circular economy -business concepts, and cost-improved, environmentally sustainable end-of-stream solutions.

View 5e platform for examples.

plastic waste

The significant and daily growing quantity of non-biodegradable, post-consumer waste which is being produced every day, represents a huge underutilized resource as well as challenge. Due to inadequate disposal and lack of sufficient circular economy, the rapid growth of post-consumption plastic waste from single-use plastic products and packaging, creates a tremendous burden to the environment and eco-health. Plastic can be recycled and re-enter supply chains again as a raw material, it also contains energy and hence can be a fuel for propulsion or electrical and thermal power.  Business cases can be attractive but economics are certainly challenged by low oil prices and low costs of virgin materials.  As countries in Asia, which have so far accepted plastic waste from the West, are now closing their borders to such imports, simply relocating the waste into countries with less strict environmental regulations no longer works. A wider implementation of circular economy strategies to reduce, replace, re-use plastics and remediate plastic waste, is urgently needed in both in developed and less developed countries.
The challenge to reduce post-consumer plastic waste represents an opportunity to roll-out proven solutions, for new processes and materials for beginning- and mid-of-production-streams, for circular economy -business concepts, and cost-improved, environmentally sustainable end-of-stream solutions.

ocean waste (mixed solid, 90% plastic)

Each year, 225 million tons of plastic consumer products and packaging are being produced globally. Based on studies, 440 tons of solid waste go into the oceans each hour, which contains over 80% (350 tons) of plastics. This results in about 3 million tons of non-biodegradable plastic entering the ocean each year (!).  Based on studies, 20% of the garbage comes from ships (illegal dumping) and 80% comes from shorelines and waterways. Most of the plastic finds its way into canals and rivers, when heavy monsoon rains washes it out from the many unsanitary landfills, eventually the waterways lead the garbage into the ocean. In addition, „micro plastics“ are already found almost in every body of water, as well as in fish. Most microplastics comes from agriculture, where it is used in synthetic fertilizer to support slow nutrient release; rains wash it from fields into waterways. While today the plastic pollution in water is noticeable already almost everywhere, currents carry most of it to six main areas of the oceans, dubbed the “garbage patches” or „gyres“. The pacific garbage patch has already three times the size of France. Based on studies, the north pacific alone currently contains already 100 million tons of plastic, where it circulates at up to 30 meters depth. Between 6 – 46 kg of plastic is measured per one kg of plankton. The plastic causes death to marine life and birds, and is significant danger to maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. The problem is already severe and requires urgent action: waste avoidance, waste utilization (circular economy) and proper disposal on land, and waste remediation. Joint efforts by industries, agriculture, governments and circular economy solutions are needed, so that plastic waste and any other solid waste does not end up in the ocean in the first place. Remediation of plastic (and other) waste from the ocean is also urgently needed. Years of exposure in the ocean shortens polymer chains of plastic, and hence make much of it not suitable for recycling, but the energy content of plastic never changes. Achieving solutions for the conservation of our oceans is one of the most significant tasks of our times.

we define bioenergy as renewable energy recaptured from biomass materials either through anaerobic digestion (releasing energy in form of biogas which contains biomethane), esterification  (creating biofuel for mobility) or through direct thermal conversion of biomass via incineration and gasification/pyrolysis, producing power, gas or heating. Subject to type and quality of biomass, as well as available business framework, different technologies are more suitable. In order to make sense with regards to eco-footprint, the process must have state-of-the art emission controls, and biomass should come from two categories:

 

  • organic waste residues (from agriculture & farming, industries, landscaping & forest maintenance, and post-consumption):

 

residues from agriculture & farming (harvest residues, animal manure), organic process residues from industries which are no longer usable for food-production, post-consumer food-waste from retail, restaurants and public collections, lignin-containing residues and cuttings from landscaping and forest maintenance)

 

  • wood and wood-like lignin from trees or plants harvested as part of sustainable reforestation cycles, from dedicated supply plantation of fast-growing plants, and plants that are not usable for food production:

 

since any kind of plants and trees are valuable helpers to extract atmospheric CO₂ and produce oxygen, cutting them down without a sustainable reforestation/plantation plan behind the feedstock, negates the benefits of renewable bioenergy

furthermore, cultivating plants for energy production which can also be used for food production “energy crops” is very controversial due to the “fuel vs. food” debate, and has also a much lower emission reduction factor than utilizing only residues

our focus is on companies, projects and technologies which

    • preserve water
    • treat effluents before discharge
    • treat water to provide clean or drinking water
    • avoid the pollution of water (nitrification, acidification, etc)
    • improve the ability of soil to retain water and hence support increased soil fertility in dry regions
    • reduce waste and packaging from water consumption
    • support ocean conservation

 

See examples on 5e platform

Special topics:

    • ocean conservation

each hour, 440 tons of solid waste go into the oceans, which contains over 80% (350 tons) of non-biodegradable plastics. Based on studies, 20% of the garbage comes from ships (illegal dumping) and 80% comes from shorelines and waterways. Most of the plastic finds its way into canals and rivers when heavy monsoon rains washes it out from the many unsanitary landfills. In addition, „micro plastics“ are already found almost in every waterway and ocean, as well as fish. Most micro-plastics comes from agriculture, where it is used in synthetic fertilizer to support slow nutrient release, when rains wash it from fields into waterways. While today the plastic pollution in water is noticeable already almost everywhere, currents carry most of it to six main areas of the oceans, dubbed the “garbage patches” or „gyres“. The pacific garbage patch has already three times the size of France. Based on studies, the north pacific alone currently contains already 100 million tons of plastic, where it circulates at up to 30 meters depth. Between 6 – 46 kg of plastic is measured per one kg of plankton. The plastic causes death to marine life and birds, and is significant danger to maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. The problem is already severe and requires urgent action: waste avoidance, waste utilization (circular economy) and proper disposal on land, and waste remediation. Joint efforts by industries, agriculture, governments and circular economy solutions are needed, so that plastic waste and any other solid waste does not end up in the ocean in the first place. Remediation of plastic (and other) waste from the ocean is also urgently needed. Years of exposure in the ocean shortens polymer chains of plastic, and hence make much of it not suitable for recycling, but the energy content of plastic never changes. Achieving solutions for the conservation of our oceans is one of the most significant tasks of our times.

    • agricultural run-offs

modern mass live-stock farming causes significant amounts of manure which is looking to be disposed; discharging these large amounts of animal manure on fields is jeopardizing healthy soil and groundwater.  So does applying large amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which are part of modern industrial farming practices, as rainfall washes nitrates and other elements which are not absorbed by soil into ground water, canals and waterways. This leads (among other problems) to acidification and nitrification of ground and fresh-water, jeopardizing drinking water supply and causing run-offs into the ocean where it destroys the eco-balance in coastal regions and causes so-called dead-zones with little to no oxygen and life left over.  Also hormones and antibiotics, used in farming practices today, end up in water, causing all sorts of additional problems for environment and health. New practices, processes, and solutions are needed to make agriculture and farming more sustainable and to reclaim and sustain water quality and ocean health.

we define sustainable agriculture as the process of growing and farming food based on a sustainable resource cycle, meaning without interfering with the natural resource recovery processes and  sustaining eco-health.

we focus on companies, projects and technologies which

    • sustain and restore soil quality, and natural microbiological balance in soil
    • support harvest quality and volume through bio-fertilizer and natural soil improvement
    • contribute to reduce application of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides
    • capture and utilize nutrients and energy in animal manure
    • avoid agricultural run-offs
    • improves water retention and fertility of soil in dry regions
    • contribute to sustenance and income of local farming communities

 

see examples on 5e platform

for more detailed information check back with us soon, content is in progress

the growing concentration of  and CO₂ other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is changing climate causing catastrophic consequences for living on earth.  Atmospheric CO₂ levels exceeding 1,200 parts per million (ppm), could push the Earth`s climate over a “tipping point”, which unstoppable and irreversible consequences. A reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration consists of sequestration and reducing emissions. A true impact can only be achieved through a joint global effort with contributions from a multitude of parties, stakeholders and countries.

 

we focus on companies, projects, products and technologies which

 

    • achieve a neutral or negative carbon footprint measured on project or product level and hence contribute to greenhouse gas emissions
    • bind carbon in soil
    • avoid the release of methane from fermentation into the atmosphere, and utilization of its energy content as renewable gas
    • sequestration of atmospheric CO₂ through forestation and implementation of new technologies

 

see examples on 5e platform

for more detailed information check back with us soon, content is in progress