CCRI successes: How HOOP is turning biowaste into high-value products

The HOOP project is revolutionizing Europe’s circular economy by transforming urban biowaste into high-value products. As part of the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI), HOOP offers innovative tools, methodologies, and guidance to support circular bioeconomy projects, effectively turning waste management practices into sustainable opportunities.

Innovative Solutions for Biowaste Management

Europe faces a significant challenge with urban biowaste, with each person generating approximately 200 kg annually. Traditional composting methods fail to maximize the potential of this waste, resulting in low-value end products. Additionally, sludge from urban wastewater treatment poses a major pollution problem. HOOP addresses these issues by developing tools to evaluate and enhance the circularity and bankability of biowaste projects.

Empowering Cities with the Bio-Circularity Label Tool

One of HOOP’s key innovations is the Bio-Circularity Label tool, which allows cities and regions to self-evaluate their circularity initiatives. This tool assesses projects based on policy, society, resource consumption, and resource management, emphasizing urban biowaste and wastewater.

For instance, Murcia, Spain, utilized the Label to establish a stakeholder platform, introduce a landfill taxation system, and invest EUR 7 million in an anaerobic digestion plant. In Almere, Netherlands, insights from the Label led to a EUR 4.46 million investment to improve biowaste collection systems. Western Macedonia, Greece, used the Label to launch educational campaigns promoting bioproduct acceptance, thereby enhancing their bioeconomy.

Assessing Project Bankability with the Project Maturity Level Tool

The Project Maturity Level (PML) tool provides crucial guidance for evaluating the bankability of circular bioeconomy projects. This tool helps project promoters and investors identify areas for improvement, ensuring that initiatives are financially viable.

In Albano, Italy, the PML tool highlighted business model challenges in converting used cooking oils into biopolymers, prompting actions to improve stakeholder engagement. Western Macedonia applied the tool to assess the production of functional ingredients from used coffee grounds, leading to successful funding applications for pilot-scale projects.

Supporting Circular Solutions Across Europe

HOOP’s impact extends beyond tool development. The project has supported bio-based and circular solutions in cities across Europe. In Bergen, Norway, HOOP facilitated the ‘Production of Microalgae from Food By-Products’ project, securing EUR 1.66 million in funding. Similarly, in Kuopio, Finland, HOOP’s guidance on pyrolysis techniques led to successful biochar production, achieving a budget of EUR 830,000.

In Porto, Portugal, HOOP assisted in organizing an open market consultation to address wastewater treatment and nutrient recovery, securing an investment of approximately EUR 50 million for 2025.

A Catalyst for Circular Bioeconomy Projects

HOOP’s comprehensive support, from initial assessments to funding acquisition, has been instrumental in advancing circular bioeconomy projects across its eight Lighthouses. By developing the Bio-Circularity Label and Project Maturity Level tools, HOOP empowers cities and regions to enhance the circularity and financial viability of their urban bioeconomies, driving Europe towards a more sustainable future.