Water2REturn turns wastewater into added-value agricultural products


Water2REturn is an Innovation Action co-funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 programme. The project is coordinated by BIOAZUL in Malaga, Spain. It is focused on the recovery and recycling of nutrients from slaughterhouse wastewater in the framework of a Circular Economy model.

Nutrients recovered are turned into value added products for the agro-chemical industry and for the agricultural sector. Water2REturn proposes a viable, cross-sectoral and integrated full-scale demonstration process to treat slaughterhouse wastewater by using a novel combination of biochemical and physical technologies and processes in cascade. The extracted nutrients can be injected back into the economy as new raw materials, thereby becoming a resource instead of a waste.

Water2REturn also promotes symbiosis between key industrial sectors (e.g. agriculture, food processing and wastewater treatment), reduces the environmental impacts of food production and improves the competitiveness of slaughterhouses. A prototype system will have a treatment capacity of 50 m3 per day, and will be integrated by a water line, a sludge line and an algae line. 

Main results
  • One integrated treatment + nutrients & energy recovery system with 3 separate process units (water line, sludge line, algae line) + energy recovery module.
  • Product valorisation for agronomic use – formulation and optimisation of 3 APs, field tests for agronomic efficiency, APs manufacturing.
  • Environmental, economic, social and risk assessments.
  • Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of the overall process.
  • EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV).
  • Analysis of end users’ needs and market uptake at EU level – stakeholders engagement and consultation, market potential, recommendations to EU and national regulators, business plan implementation.

The project's technological outcomes are also visualised in the diagram below: