Interview with Ingunn Dale Samset: how to make the most of urban bio-resources

  • Cristina (Commu... profile
    Cristina (Commu...
    9 May 2018 - updated 5 months ago
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Ingunn Dale Samset is a waste management expert currently working for the City of Oslo, Coordinator of the Urban Partnership for Circular Economy. She has participated in the drafting of the Partnership’s Action Plan, leading the work on “how to make the most of urban bio-resources”. The new action will be part of a second round of Public Feedback to be launched end of June 2018.

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Ingunn Dale Samset
Hello Ingunn, could you introduce yourself and your institution?

My name is Ingunn Dale Samset and I work in the Agency for Waste Management in the City of Oslo. I am working as a chief engineer in the Development Department and have been working with a new Waste Management strategy for Oslo. I’m also a food waste advisor in our agency. 

What are the current problems with bio waste and wastewater and how are they affecting the City of Oslo?

The households in Oslo have been source separating food waste since 2009. The city of Oslo has established a biological treatment plant for food waste that produces biogas and bio-fertiliser. The biogas is used as fuel for waste trucks and buses in the city, and the bio-fertiliser is used by local farmers. In 2017 the households in Oslo source separated 46 % of their food waste. Because more than half of the food waste is discarded in the residual waste, a lot of bio-resources are being incinerated. Citizens’ participation in the separate collection of food waste is fundamental for a sufficient quantity and good-quality feedstock. This is a challenge in Oslo, especially in areas with a lot of high-rise buildings.

What is the City of Oslo doing to tackle these challenges with what results?

The City of Oslo is working a lot with communication to motivate the citizens to participate in the source separation of food waste. We are also reaching out to the households by knocking on doors in high-rise buildings and telling them about the source separation system. The quantity of food waste collected is slowly increasing.

Another challenge Oslo has experienced was that in the beginning farmers were very sceptical to use bio-fertilizer from food waste. It is important to have a good dialogue with the future users marked when developing new products from waste resources. Oslo’s experience was that we were dependent on having a good and constant dialogue with the farmers to produce a product that meets important quality requirements. The dialogue has been organised through research and development projects to produce the right quality, get knowledge about effects from the use of the fertilizer and develop farmer guidelines for use of the fertilizer.

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New bio-based technologies are emerging, and they might lead to efficient valorisation of urban bio-resources. What are they and what are the barriers?

There are a lot of bio-resources in waste from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and the urban wastewater sludge. New technologies for producing biobased products from these flows are emerging, and the products are ranging from compost, biobased nutrients/fertilisers for agriculture and biogas to biobased plastics, chemicals and food and feed ingredients.

EU legislation on waste and wastewater today is focusing mainly on safety for humans and environment. Many researchers and producers experience obstacles in the regulations, based on the origin of the bio-resources and not the quality of the products. The legislation could include more circular economy aspects to facilitate the valorisation of urban biowaste and wastewater resources for the production of high-value biobased products.

There has been a promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU providing incentives for the use of biomass for energy production. Regulation should be improved in order to guarantee a level play field for different uses of biomass.

The Partnership on Circular Economy is working on an action plan to be implemented at local level, as well as national level. The action you lead focuses on urban bio-resources. What will this action seek to achieve and how?

The action on bio-resources will seek to identify barriers and obstacles in the regulations and analyse how the legislation could be improved in order to allow use of urban biowaste for biobased products at the same time of guaranteeing safety in its use.

What are the targets of this action? Who will implement it?

The target for this action is to give input to improve the European Policy making that affects the production of biobased products from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and the urban wastewater sludge. I hope that this action might contribute to a better valorisation of bio-resources in the future.

The City of Oslo is very active in the field of Circular Economy, by being a leading player of the Urban Agenda for instance. What does it expect from the Partnership on Circular Economy and the Urban Agenda in general?

The Partnership on Circular Economy provides Oslo with a great opportunity to learn more about how other cities work with circular economy. The cities are given a unique opportunity to contribute to European policy making on the topics of the Urban Agenda Partnerships.

 

More information

The Partnership on Circular Economy organises in Brussels a policy workshop the 28 May 2018 on “Barriers and solutions to closing the loop of bio-resources”. Registration is open until the 14 May 2018.

All stakeholders will be invited to react to this action during a public feedback to be launched end of June 2018 (stay tuned here).

More information on the Partnership on Circular Economy.