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Waste-to-energy has a future in Bulgaria
Hrvoje Milosevic, Regional Sales Manager at BDI-BioEnergy International AG
AUTHOR: Interview questions by Lyudmila Zlateva

Mr. Milosevic, tell us more about your company – BDI?

BDI – BioEnergy International AG is market and technology leader in the construction of customised BioDiesel and BioGas plants using the Multi-Feedstock Technology the company has developed itself. The BDI BioGas technology ensures the production of energy from waste and by-products while ensuring maximum preservation of resources at the same time. BDI provides customised, turnkey BioDiesel and BioGas facilities with the in-house developed technologies of highest quality since the company was founded in 1996. From R&D, engineering and construction all the way to after-sales services, we operate as a true one-stop-shop.

Does energy generation from waste have a future in Bulgaria and the region?

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the estimated food, fruit and vegetable wastes percentage for each commodity group in each step of the food supply chain are 30- 45% in agricultural production, post-harvest handling and storage, processing and packaging, distribution and consumption and in the end is generated largely in the municipal solid wastes in traditional markets (SEE) and disposed in landfill or dumping sites, causing environmental problems.

The waste management sector starts slowly to be developed in Bulgaria and will increase with separated waste collection activities. According to the latest data, 73% of collected waste is dumped at landfills, while 0% goes to incineration plants. Another 23% are separately collected and are recyclable (glass, plastic, etc.).

We need to follow all actors along the value chain and the collection processes. We have to appropriate regulatory framework, do incentives for waste prevention and recycling, as well the public investments (tendering) in facilities for waste treatment. Recycling and re-use of waste are economically attractive options for public and private investors due to the fees for a separate collection and market for secondary raw materials, where all actors can see profit. In the SEE 28% of organic waste material is not being re-used for energy. Only a small portion is reused, mainly the one related to the consumption of animal products – slaughterhouse wastes, but also brewery and sugar production wastes. In the SEE however statistics say that 90 million tons of food wastes are dumped every year. Much of this is valuable waste suitable for energy generation.

Tell us about a project BDI has accomplished. What makes your technology preferable?
In the year 2010 BDI has been commissioned to build a plant for the fermentation of organic household waste and residual agricultural materials in Turkey. This plant is a waste management facility that processes 30,000 tons of municipal and vegetable wastes, as well as many tons of cow and chicken manure and industrial wastes. The facility is the first of its kind in Turkey. The overall effectiveness of the municipal waste management process is heavily connected to the involvement and engagement of the community, which the facility most immediately serves.

The main strategic aim of this project is that the organic waste input is used for electricity generation and composting production, as well as the inorganic waste is recycled and reused. Another pillar of the strategy is complete integration, which depends on initiating the waste management process at homes through separation and following it step by step until it is abated in landfills. A fully integrated waste management model starts with the education of households and municipalities on how to differentiate and separate waste, and is followed by collection, separation, recycling, pre-anaerobic digestion treatment, implementing BDI anaerobic digestion, de-acidification, electricity production, heat utilization, digestate preparation, composting, fertilizer and RDF production, and the eventual disposing of the inert remainders in modern landfills, constantly eliminating undesirable process odours through bio and carbon filters.

Could this type of generation compete with other renewables, especially in the context of rethinking national support schemes, e.g. the tendency for lower feed-in tariffs?

For the generation of energy aerobic digestion is an appropriate technology for handling the waste, especially from organic fractions. The waste characterisation shows it is more suitable to be treated that way. It is noteworthy that expired food and vegetable wastes, organic industry waste (spent grain, whey etc.) are a potent source for energy generation. Furthermore, feed-in tariffs, albeit getting lower in recent years, are a stimulus for many communities to consider waste-to-energy.

Communities can organise the waste collection process through the introduction of a fee for this activity, thus generating income not only from the household waste but also from the food, meat and beverage industries where a lot of waste is not utilised for energy generation of energy. These industries typically pay extraordinary fees for waste disposal instead of using it as energy resource. This scheme also represents a gate fee income for the anaerobic treatment. A combined effort with farmers, the food industry, retailers and consumers resource production, sustainable food choices and reduced dumping in landfills possesses a big income potential. Electrical and heat energy are not the only valuable end products of waste utilisation, though. There is also the outcome of the process in the form of high-quality organic fertiliser which brings further profit. So, income is not all in the feed-in tariffs, the most important effect at the end are savings in CO2 emissions and future environmental negative effects.

Does BDI work with universities and research bodies to bring about innovation? What technical achievements are you most proud of?

Research and Development is crucial for BDI in order to continue to set standards in the field of sustainable energy production using the company’s own technologies. Every year, BDI invests a considerable share of its turnover in future-orientated R&D related to the utilisation of new raw materials from the waste sector and other industries to produce renewable energy and other recoverables. BDI is working in a common research centre since 2003. We are in an active membership with the Karl Franzens University of Graz, the Technical University of Graz, the European Algae Biomass Association, the European Biogas Association, ARGE Kompost Austria, and many more. Our long-lasting and close cooperation with these institutions provides us technical expertise and a wide-ranging selection of services. We are also working with members of the university in Greece and Turkey, so that we can always find the best solution for our customers

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