Lab & Consulting Services



Reducing the use of mineral fertilisers and agro-chemicals by recycling treated organic waste as compost and bio-char


December 1st, 2011 – November 30th, 2015


A vast quantity of organic waste is produced annually within the EU. Agriculture is the biggest contributor in organic residues, followed by yard and forestry waste, sludge waste water treatment plant (SWWTP), food processing waste, and organic fraction from municipal waste (OFMSW). The vast majority of this waste stream can be subjected to processing that transforms ‘waste’ into valuable products. Processing can take place at ambient temperatures (biological treatment) in the presence (composting) or absence (anaerobic digestion) of oxygen; or at much higher temperatures, again in the presence (incineration, resulting in ash) or absence (pyrolysis, resulting in biochar) of oxygen.

The focus in FERTIPLUS is in understanding why a given processing of a selection of combination of feedstocks will make a good product and to provide a tool for SME’s to determine the best strategy (what feedstock and what processing conditions will produce product with fertilizer value – what to put on the bag of the product?). The focus for feedstocks in FERTIPLUS is on urban and agricultural waste including garden and park waste, municipal household waste, residues from anaerobic digesters for N and P recuperation. FERTIPLUS will assess the available organic waste and estimate how much N and P could be made available if returned to agriculture and whether this could be realized according to regulatory safety standards currently under development.

The general objective of FERTIPLUS is therefore to identify and develop innovative strategies and technologies to:

  • Reduce and replace the application of mineral fertilizers and agrochemicals and;
  • Stimulate industry to implement necessary and cost-effective organic waste treatment and recycling processes to produce safe compost and biochar that allow agriculture to improve the efficient utilization of nutrients.

The strategic goal of this project would be to support the European Union by providing the necessary tools and quality standards for the design and implementation of future strategies for transitions to a safe and sustainable recycling of urban and farm organic wastes as fertilizers and soil amendments.

From a business-as-usual scenario (where fossils energy is used to generate fertilizer and waste is incinerated) we envisage a transformation to a future scenario where waste is transformed into valuables (which have the potential to replace mineral fertilizers and agro-chemicals while fulfilling safety standards and through saving of energy and yield of energy from biochar production).
Municipal organic waste and organic residues from other sources such as agriculture, are potentially a large and rich source of nutrients. Currently, only part of these sources are re-used in agriculture, mostly in the form of compost. Composting is a well proven technology to stabilize organic waste into a stable soil improver rich in nutrients. The remainder is landfilled or incinerated.


Alterra Wageningen UR (The Netherlands)


University of Weimar (Germany), Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (Belgium), University of Leeds (UK), National Council of Scientific Research (Spain), CRA (Italy), IDConsortium (Spain),  ECN (The Netherlands), Graphite Resources (UK), Tecnova (Spain), Proininso (Spain), IRIS (Italy), GERESUR (Spain) and OWS (Belgium)

OWS’ tasks

Anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis testing + evaluation of biochar production from residues



Mr. Filip Velghe