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A new era in sustainable waste management

Upcoming legislation is focusing increasing attention on the value of combining different types of waste treatment to leverage their complementary benefits. Watrec’s approach is based on treating organic waste and wastewater and producing biogas, renewable energy, and high-quality fertiliser.

Watrec’s systems and expert services are based around combining biological waste treatment methods with physical and chemical ones for customers in industry, agriculture, and the municipal sector.

Generating biogas and producing renewable, high-quality fertilisers and energy in this way offers a number of advantages, particularly in terms of long-term sustainability and overall financial viability. Recovering methane from waste helps combat global warming, while fertilisers produced by a well-designed biogas plant match or exceed the properties of synthetic equivalents.

As a closed system, the impact that a Watrec-designed biogas unit has on the immediate environment is typically much smaller than that of many other waste management systems. Biogas produced in this way is also local, which helps reduce society’s dependence on imported energy.

Renewable energy and high-quality fertiliser

A Watrec biogas plant capable of processing 60,000 to 180,00 t/a of municipal and industrial waste will typically outperform competing solutions in terms of overall cost-effectiveness.

Watrec’s first build, own, and operate (BOO) reference project, the VamBio biogas plant, came on stream in 2010. The majority of the gas, heat, electricity, and fertiliser generated by this 80,000 t/a plant is used locally. While some waste input is sourced locally, some is sourced from up to 300 kilometres away.

In recognition of the plant’s overall efficiency and the benefit that it provides to the local community, the VamBio plant was awarded the Environmental Company of the Year Award for 2011 by the Association of Environmental Enterprises in Finland.

Parallel to the VamBio project, Watrec worked with a local engineering partner to develop a new type of biogas reactor that offers significantly shorter erection times, making projects both faster and cheaper to implement. This new design is expected to further strengthen the competitiveness of Watrec’s solutions.

New network of plants coming

Inspired by the success of the VamBio project, Watrec has been selected as the technology partner for a network of five to seven large-scale, centralised co-digestion biogas plants to be built across Finland.

This initiative, which will increase Finland’s biowaste processing capacity by hundreds of thousands of tonnes a year in just a couple of years, will be financed by a dedicated private equity fund managed by Taaleritehdas and coordinated and managed by VamBio.

Watrec’s solutions are mainly based on biological processes, combined with physical and/or chemical processes. The company’s VamBio biogas plant, seen here, won the Environmental Company of the Year Award for 2011. Photo: Joonas Juura.

> Terhi Lylyjärvi
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)