Efficient waste management, a key factor for the sustainability of the agri-food industry

16 Nov, 2016

Around 4 million tons of waste are currently generated in the BAC.Its composition varies greatly, although over 99% is organic matter and offers many possibilities for reusing the waste.In this context, innovative strategies are needed to manage and recover agri-food by-products and the LIFE GISWASTE project provides a key tool for decision making in this area.

The food industry accounts for 11% of the Basque industrial fabric, which means it has a  very important role.The activities that generate 4 million tons of agri-food waste a year in the BAC are diverse, with 62,500 tons from meat, vegetable and dairy by-products.Driving innovative options to efficiently manage the by-products is therefore necessary.

In the beverage sector, winemaking of La Rioja Alavesa and the production of cider and Txakolí wine in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa generate waste used by alcohol industries, to produce animal feed, soils and finally to landfill.  In the case of the production of dairy products, specifically cheese, the whey generated is managed by means of spreading over meadows, waste to animal feed or dumped in a sceptic tank. As regards fish processing and preserving, this industry generates an important amount of fish amounts used to made fish meal.

In turn, companies from the livestock sector in the BAC are small in size and their demand is high.At livestock farms specialising in dairy and pork, and poultry holdings, there is greater concern about spreading the waste increased (increases the likelihood of water pollution) and about the need of transporting it large distances as it cannot be recovered at the place of production.

In this context, the GISWASTE Life project was launched in 2013 with the aim of offering an IT tool to facilitate decision-making about the most appropriate use of the dairy, meat and vegetable by-products from the agri-food sector, instead of directly treating them as waste.The recovery alternatives being studied are the generation of biogas and animal feed production.

The GISWASTE tool provides information on the environmental, economic and technical feasibility of the food waste management plants, including data about producers, mapping for the optimum geographical location and recover alternatives.

Life GISWASTE coordinated by AZTI-Tecnalia, Geograma, LKS and Ihobe, the environmental management agency, will complete the pilot scheme in 2016 in order for the GIS tool to be make available to the agri-food sector in 2017.   

Last modified on Monday, 12 December 2016