How can organic material cycles be successfully closed in a region and connected with one another so that they can become a model for other locations as a whole? Is it possible to network the relevant stakeholders from public administration, training, research and business with one another in such a way that the added value remains in the region and that they can move together towards CO2 neutrality?
In the districts of Melk and Scheibbs, which together have around 119,000 inhabitants, the community environmental associations pushed to become such a model region. Usually, they are responsible for the waste management of the member communities. However, a call from the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund (an instrument of the federal government to support the national climate strategy) to find a model region for bioeconomy and circular economy, provided the opportunity for them to grow beyond this traditional role.
The municipal waste disposal provided in-depth knowledge about waste and conversion technologies. The application also made it easier to network with the training and research facilities located in the districts because the ambitious goals would not be achievable without new, innovative approaches. A total of 16 education and research partners as well as network institutions have joined the project and contribute to the dissemination and multiplication of the knowledge that has been gathered.
Finally, numerous companies based in the region (mainly from the waste management, wood industry, food and feed and bioenergy sectors) and their material cycles were successfully integrated into the concept. This will make it possible to keep the balance between measures that can be implemented quickly and more experimental projects that are more future-oriented.
The consortium applied as a model region and was invited to develop the concept. The region is currently in competition with two other Austrian regions, of which only one will be awarded funding.
The concept developed contains 10 packages of measures. In addition to establishing a physical and a digital communication platform as well as an innovation workshop for the cascading use of regional resources, the concept focuses on the following technical content:
- Recycling of regional organic material
- “Greening the Gas”
- Vegetable carbon and pyrolysis of sewage sludge
- Climate-neutral logistics
- Regenerative agriculture
- Protein value chain
- Reduction of microplastic in the region
The “Greening the Gas” project, which deals with the production of synthetic methane from biomass, was identified as a flagship project to consolidate the region as a role model.
Link: Model region Melk-Scheibbs (German)