Project actions

No_Waste project aims to evaluate, demonstrate and disseminate the sustainable use of ash (from forest biomass residues combustion) combined with organic waste materials (sludge and/or compost) to regenerate degraded soils from mining areas in compliance with the EU “Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection”.

It comprises a highly multidisciplinary approach integrating information on chemical, physical and biological indicators, bioavailability and risk assessment, life cycle thinking tools, cost-effectiveness analysis, statistical analysis and modelling. The project structure includes the following actions, which further description is given below:

A1. Preliminary characterization of ash, organic materials and mining soils

DURATION: 1-1-2016 to 30-06-2016

STATUS: COMPLETED

This Action provided a full characterization of materials with potential for use as soil additives, including bottom and fly ash from residual forest biomass combustion, secondary sludge and organic compost materials. Degraded soils in mining areas were also characterized during the course of this action. Analyses performed included pH, moisture content, loss-on-ignition, particle size distribution, bulk density, major and minor chemical elements, dilute salts, mineralogical analysis (X-ray diffraction and optical microscopy), water soluble chemical elements and organic contaminants (e.g. PAHs and PCDDs/Fs), among others. As a result, specific types of ash and organic materials were selected and tested as soil additives in Action A2.


A2. Preparation of soil additives and mesocosm experiments to test their effect on mining soils

DURATION: 1-4-2016 to 31-12-2016

STATUS: COMPLETED

In this Action, materials selected in Action A1 (ashes and organic materials) were tested as soil additives. Methods for preparation, pre-treatment and mixing of materials were developed and optimized. Mesocosm tests (pot and column experiments) were performed to optimize application rates, necessary to achieve the following targets: to correct soil pH, to increase soil nutrient pools, to reduce availability of potentially toxic elements, to avoid salt stress for plants; to comply with the criteria from the ‘Sewage sludge Directive’ (86/278/EEC) and relevant Portuguese legislation Decree-Laws No. 276/2009 (sludge application to agriculture), No. 73/2011 (waste management) and No. 103/2015 (fertilizing materials). The effects of the soil additives on soil properties were quantified.


B1. Pilot Project - Pilot scale application of soil additives at three mining sites

DURATION: 1-1-2017 to 30-6-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Additives prepared in Action A2 will be tested in a pilot project. Twelve pilot-scale plots (10 x 10 m) will be constructed for in situ application of soil additives. These test plots will serve as experimental systems to determine the effectiveness of various treatments to stimulate the recovery of soil functions and to develop future application schemes of biomass ash and organic materials. Soil, water and plant samples will be collected periodically (at least once a month) and will be analyzed for demonstrating and monitoring of the efficiency of the soil additives in recovering of soil functions. This Action will allow to optimize operational conditions and detect potential constrains, thus providing technical guidelines for further application of the soil additives to other degraded areas.


B2. Decision support system for the management of biomass combustion ashes and for EU-wide scale

DURATION: 1-7-2016 to 30-6-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will focus on evaluation of current legal limits across the EU in view of the re-utilization of ashes from biomass combustion as soil additives and development of improved limits based on new scientific risk assessment protocols. It will allow develop a new market product (soil additive) and the respective technical plan for its production and application in the recovery of degraded mining soils, as well as analyze its cost-effectiveness, economic, social and environmental viability. A decision support tool and an improved technical risk assessment protocol will be produced for identification, monitoring and mitigation of potential risks associated with the recycling of ash and organic waste materials. In particular, this Action aims to demonstrate that: biomass ashes have applications and meet technical requirements; there is a value-chain and a market for them; and a comprehensive risk assessment protocol ensures compliance with environmental, safety and public health standards.


C1. Technical support – monitoring of soil properties and plant cover during the Pilot Project

DURATION: 1-1-2017 to 30-6-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will provide technical support to Action B1 regarding the monitoring of soil properties during the pilot project and the analysis of plant samples. This will be performed by reviewing of methodologies for representative soil sampling, key soil properties and plant analyses. While some parameters were already selected in the scope of Actions A1 and A2, additional parameters will be considered if necessary. Protocols for collection and analysis of soil, soil solution, plant and leachate samples, as well as for quality assessment and quality control will be prepared.


C2. Technical support – field and laboratory testing of availability of contaminants to sensitive receptors and ecotoxicological risk assessment

DURATION: 1-7-2016 to 31-12-2018

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will provide technical support to Action B1 regarding the assessment of bioavailability of contaminants from ashes, organic materials and soils, as well as evaluation of soil biochemical and ecotoxicological parameters. Along with the quantification of bioavailable potentially toxic elements, the effect of the soil additives on microbial communities will be assessed through enzymatic activity tests. Bioassays using both soil and leachate samples will be performed to characterize the ecotoxicological potential of the soil additives. Both terrestrial (germination and plant growth, mortality avoidance and reproduction of Eisenia andreii) and aquatic tests (luminescence inhibition of Vibrio fisheri and immobilization of Daphnia magna) will be taken into account.


C3. Technical support – monitoring of the impact of soil additives on soil functions

DURATION: 1-1-2016 to 31-12-2018

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will provide technical support to Action B2 regarding the analysis of the impact of addition of soil additives on soil properties, soil functions, surface/groundwater quality, soil-plant transfer of potentially toxic elements and plant growth. In particular, the following soil functions will be assessed: biomass production, including in agriculture and forestry; storing, filtering and transforming nutrients, substances and water; biodiversity pool; physical environment for humans and human activities; carbon pool. Three working groups will be formed within the team members to assess, respectively, (i) the beneficial effects of and (ii) risks associated with the soil additives, and (iii) statistical analysis and geochemical modelling.


C4. Monitoring of the socio-economic and environmental impact of project actions

DURATION: 1-7-2016 to 30-6-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Along with the monitoring of the progress and results of all project actions, this Action will assess the effects of them on the local economy and population. It will use a multicriteria methodology to ensure cost-efficient replicability or transferability of the actions and results. This will support After-LIFE planning of measures to manage wastes of pulp and paper industry and energy production facilities. Positive impacts related to the increase of social awareness and acceptance of the benefits of protecting the environment will be evaluated.


D1. Analysis of public awareness on the benefits and constraints of the application of industrial by-products in the recovery of degraded soils

DURATION: 1-7-2017 to 31-12-2018

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will assess public perception of risks associated with both degraded soils at mining areas and application of ash from biomass combustion and organic materials in the recovery of degraded soils. It will also assist the development of the decision support system in the scope of Action B2. Questionnaire-based studies will be conducted in a community in the surroundings of a mine located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, in Alentejo, Portugal, where the soil was until recently widely contaminated. Following the development of surveys, the decision support system will take into account stakeholders’ opinions to optimize management of ashes from biomass combustion in an environmental safe, agronomical adequate and economical sustainable way.


D2. Communication and dissemination of project results to public and relevant stakeholders and networking with other LIFE and non-LIFE projects

DURATION: 1-1-2016 to 31-12-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action will interact with all other actions for dissemination of results obtained in the course of each of them. It will include dissemination of information and awareness raising activities regarding the project to the general public and stakeholders. Technical dissemination initiatives will also be performed for transferring the results and lessons learnt to those stakeholders that could usefully benefit from the project's experience and implement themselves the actions demonstrated. This Action also foresees networking with other LIFE and non-LIFE projects and international/ European stakeholders. Project website, newsletters, conferences, workshops, training courses, a Layman’s report and scientific publications are also foreseen in the scope of this Action.


E1. Project management and monitoring of project progress

DURATION: 1-1-2016 to 31-12-2019

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

This Action consists in detailing of the organizational and management structure of the project. It consists of a Project Management Team (Project Manager, two Technical-policy Managers, a Financial-administrative Manager and a Steering Committee represented by all beneficiaries), twelve Action Leaders, a Project Advisory Board, project Participants and the Coordinating Beneficiary (University of Aveiro).  The Project Advisory Board ensures quality of the research work at the technical and stakeholder level, provides comments on the technical quality of the work executed, recommends on publication and scientific dissemination, comments the applicability and transferability of Project deliverables, and identifies complementarities with scientific and non-scientific work outside this Project, and linking to these national and international programs.


E2. After-LIFE Plan

DURATION: 1-7-2019 to 31-12-2019

STATUS: PLANNED

This Action will produce a report containing prospects for future application of these soil additives including a description of areas where it can be applied and conditions that must be met for its application, an After-LIFE communication plan (brochures, DVD, website continuously updated and scientific publications) and some After-LIFE research activities (continuous testing of soil additives by PhD and MSc students).