21 journeys exploring the new horizons of the circular economy

© Thomas Veille

At SUEZ’s invitation, travel writer Erik Orsenna spent 2016 discovering places where the circular economy is a reality, including manufacturing sites, start-ups, laboratories,cities… He related this travel in “21 journeys to the countries of the new resource”(1). On the occasion of Earth day, a look back at three of the innovations he presented.

How flies could address the food challenges of the future ?

One third of the food produced worldwide goes to waste. This is quite a paradox, given that demand for food will rise, as the world’s population grows. According to the FAO, worldwide agricultural production will have to rise by 70% to meet the needs of the planet’s nine billion inhabitants in 2050.

Nextalim, a company based near Poitiers, France, offers a solution that can help to take up this challenge. The company specialises in the rearing of flies, to produce fats, proteins and other derivatives. The flies are reared thanks to the collecting and recovering of organic waste, on which they feed. The products obtained with the rearing of flies are then used mainly for animal nutrition. Nextalim thus addresses the issues of reusing food waste and enhancing the production of proteins.

Click here to read Erik Orsenna’s story about Nextalim: “The fly solution”.

Could bread replace petrol ?

The Scandinavian company St1 has developed a solution that addresses two major contemporary problems: the depletion of fossil resources and the development of sustainable mobility that produces less CO2. Its innovation consists of transforming food waste, and in particular bread from major retailers and smaller traders, into biofuel.

The Finland-based company has thus built a bioethanol production unit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in partnership with SUEZ for the collection of bread waste.The unit transforms the sugar in the food waste into bioethanol, which is then sold to petrol station networks and mixed with “traditional” fuel.

Click here to read Erik Orsenna’s story about St1: “Feeding your car bread”.

How digital technology can facilitate soil’s exchanges between construction sites ?

The construction and civil works industry is one of the economic sectors that produces the most waste. Today, only one third of construction and demolition waste is recycled or reused. But the recovery of this waste constitutes a major challenge, as the European Union’s ambitious target to recover 70% of construction and demolition waste by 2020 testifies.

This waste includes excavated soil. As soon as excavated soil leaves a construction site, it can be sent to another construction site or to a recovery plant, to be used as backfill, for example. But, today, managing these transfers of soil is a complex task.

The company Hesus is looking into ways of making exchanges of soils between sites easier, thanks to digital technology. The Soldating platform developed by the company operates like a marketplace, where site operators can sell the soil that they want to discard, or buy the one they need, in just a few clicks.

Click here to read Erik Orsenna’s story about Hesus’ Soldating platform: “Earth Trader”.

You can discover all the “21 journeys to the countries of the new resource” here.

(1) Click here to know more about “21 journeys to the countries of the new resource”


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