What seems to be waste to one person may be resources to another – but it takes a meeting and perhaps a scientist before an idea of recycling can become a reality.

If you put the right companies together, adding a few scientists who know how to turn biological waste into resources, a development may begin which will benefit the individual business as well as society as a whole. 

This is the positive conclusion from four meetings in Risø DTU’s recycling network. The network has been made possible through a cooperation agreement with Region Zealand. 

11 Zealand companies and 2 trade organisations welcomed the offer of joining the network and getting new inspiration as to how to treat biological waste. Other participants were five scientists from Green Center, IPU, Roskilde University and Risø DTU. 

”Waste is just resources on the wrong track,” says one of the participants, Senior Scientist Jens Ejbye Schmidt from Risø DTU. This philosophy would influence the members of the network coming from a broad range of companies whose residual products ranged from slaughterhouse waste to potato peels and mash from breweries. 

Four intense meetings 
The purpose of the network was to reach a creative phase with actual solutions at an early stage of the process. Therefore only four meetings had been planned. At the first meeting the participants introduced themselves by bringing along an object, symbolising their interest and competence. Afterwards the group got a guided tour to see the divisions of Risø DTU. 

The second meeting took place at Asnæsværket, a power plant which is part of the Industrial Symbiosis at Kalundborg. This is a network of companies around Kalundborg who have come together to utilise each other’s residual products and excess heat. 

Then the real idea development began. Being divided into four groups the participants were to analyse their ”resources on the wrong track” and draw up concrete proposals on how to make better use of these resources. 

Long live the differences 
There was soon created a very positive energy within the network. According to several participants this was a result of the many different approaches. 

”There was initially an open and honest desire to arrive at results that could benefit all of us,” says Erik Borup, the Works Manager at Ryegaard Land- og Skovbrug (Ryegaard Farm and Forestry). ”I have learned a lot from sharing experiences with people from other lines of businesses than mine. To be specific, the network has made me enter into collaboration with the aim of creating a fertilizer.” 

Also Lars Olufsson, Managing Director in Biograin, which handles mash from the Carlsberg/Tuborg- and Harboe-breweries, has been very happy to meet people he would not normally have contact with. 

” I was pleasantly surprised when Risø DTU called me. I immediately accepted this opportunity to get in touch with scientists and people from other types of businesses. I have been asked to participate in networks before, but always declined. This time I could really see the perspective, and I was not disappointed.” 

Several of the network members have subsequently decided to proceed with project ideas that have arisen in connection with the network. The first collaboration projects are already underway. 

Risø DTU is currently working on launching similar networks on e.g. packaging, fuel cells and the recycling of materials. 

Scientists in the recycling network 
Senior Scientist Henrik Hauggaard-Nielsen, the Biosystems Division, Risø DTU 
Senior Scientist Jens Ejbye Schmidt, the Biosystems Division, Risø DTU 
Master of Engineering, PhD Per Væggemose, IPU 
Associate Professor Tyge Kjær, Roskilde University 
Deputy Manager & Project Manager Poul Hunniche Madsen, Green Center