LIFE Waste2NeoAlginate - Demonstration of innovative alginate production from granular sludge: a paradigm change in waste water treatment

LIFE16 ENV/NL/000217

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Contact person: Philip Schyns
Tel: 31314269613
Email: p.schyns@wrij.nl

Project description:


The European Commission has established an ambitious agenda to transition the EU towards a circular economy. To achieve this, actions must cover entire production cycles. Regarding biomass, there is a need to improve the integration of production and processing. One of the main challenges is to develop new value chains for bio-based industrial by-products.

Recently, it was discovered that granular sludge produced during wastewater treatment contains a relatively high percentage of valuable components such as alginate-like exopolysaccharides. These are comparable to the alginates traditionally derived from seaweeds. Alginates could replace many fossil fuel-based chemicals used to manufacture paper, textiles and concrete, as well as in agriculture. However, at present worldwide production of high-quality alginate is limited to some 33 000 tonnes/year. Greater availability of alginate made from granular sludge is necessary for widespread substitution for chemicals derived from fossil fuels.


Waste2Neo-Alginate aims to demonstrate an innovative and highly-replicable technology for turning wastewater solids (granular sludge) into a valuable material that will be commercialised under the registered trade mark, Neo-Alginate.

To do this it will use a double mechanical-chemical process of extraction, followed by refining. The technology will be implemented in a semi-industrial plant producing around 1 000 tonnes/year of NeoAlginate from granular sludge. The general aim is to develop a production process for bio-based products from wastewater. This will generate new market opportunities, and reduce the environmental impacts of wastewater treatment in terms of sludge production, transportation and energy consumption.

By turning a waste product into a secondary raw material, the project will directly contribute to the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. The proposed technology also fosters the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, as it will improve the quality of EU water bodies. The project objectives are also in line with the Sewage Sludge Directive and the Urban Waste Water Directive, which encourage the use of sludge as long as it is not a threat to the environment or human health.

Expected results:

  • Implementation of a full-scale demonstration plant to deliver some 1 000 tonnes/year of NeoAlginate;
  • Full-scale demonstration and monitoring of the recovery of NeoAlginate from granular sludge for 24 months;
  • Dissemination of results to raise awareness and promote market uptake;
  • A direct contribution to European policies concerning the circular economy and waste management, through the recovery and commercialisation of valuable resources from sewage sludge;
  • A 35% reduction in granular sewage;
  • An energy footprint reduction of 18.4 TJ/year;
  • A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of some 1 140 tonnes CO2 eq/year;
  • Demonstration of high replication potential, with an attractive cost-benefit ratio and a short payback period (4-5 years) for the demonstration plant. The payback period for dedicated full-scale installations is expected to be around three years;
  • Contribution to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on water;
  • A life-cycle analysis (LCA) of the Neo-Alginate production cycle; and
  • An environmental impact report on the complete value chain.



Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Bio-waste (including food waste)
Waste - Waste recycling


waste water treatment‚  waste recycling‚  sludge treatment

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
  • Land & Soil
  • "Directive 86/278 - Protection of the environment, and in particular of the soil, when sewage slu ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Waterschap Rijn en IJssel
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description Waterschap Rijn & IJssel (WRIJ) is a public regional water authority managed by a democratically-elected management board. WRIJ is one of 21 Dutch water authorities responsible for water management, including wastewater treatment processes.
Partners Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer (STOWA), The Netherlands Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, The Netherlands ChainCraft B.V., The Netherlands Simadan Holding B.V., The Netherlands


Project reference LIFE16 ENV/NL/000217
Duration 01-AUG-2017 to 31-DEC -2021
Total budget 6,764,695.00 €
EU contribution 2,909,650.00 €
Project location Mid East(Ireland) Gelderland(Nederland) Noord-Holland(Nederland) Lisboa e vale do Tejo(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's webpage


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version