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Denmark takes the top position on the EU28 Eco-Innovation Scoreboard for 2015: This an improvement in ranking compared to previous years which already showed good performance with a second position in 2014 and fourth position in 2013 and never ranked lower than fourth since 2010. In terms of eco-innovation output, compared to 2013 Denmark slides down the ranking from first place to fourth in the Scoreboard, while on the other hand Denmark moves up from a fourth place to the first spot in terms of eco-innovation input, which is also Denmark’s best performing indices. The country does not manage to translate the high eco-innovation output into a higher socio-economic output, where it is below EU average.

Denmark has been promoting eco-innovation since 2006, when thr Danish Parliament requested the Danish Government to launch the first eco-innovation scheme, underpinned by a comprehensive policy framework in support of activities and initiatives in favour of the environment and combating climate change. After the Danish Local Government Reform in 2007 created five completely new regions in Denmark, green growth initiatives got off due to the synergy effects that the reform offered. Industrial symbiosis and public procurement are two areas that seem particularly to have benefitted from this. However, the new Danish Government (June 2015) has taken a more market oriented approach to green transition with the view that enterprises will implement green business models without the need of comprehensive state support, hence some drastic cuts have been proposed and taken place that will affect circular economy developments. In view of this, the latest Scoreboard results are a result of the work of previous governments and it needs to be seen how the latest policy developments will affect Denmark’s result in the future.

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Denmark

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Enzymes for biofuel

Novozymes, a Danish company specialsing in biotechnology, is developing enzymes that can "fuel" the process of making cellulosic ethanol out of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). The cellulosic ethanol cand then be used in energy production, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, and at the same time reduce the amount of MSW being send for landfills or incineration.  This case is an example of how Novozymes is cooperating with the American company Fiberight in turning MSW into cellulosic ethanol. Besides, it is a good example of how international partnerships and knowledge networks are important to eco-innovation.

Making biofuel from trash 
Municipal solids waste (MSW) – more commonly known as household trash, is a growing problem, as the world produces more and more of it. Thanks to Fiberight and the input of enzymes from Novozymes, MSW can now be transformed into valuable biofuel, even though it has a complex composition, which can difficult to seperate. It is neither homogeneous nor fully convertible to energy. It is not the easiest material to turn into something useful, but Craig Stuart-Paul, CEO of Fiberight, has the creative vision to see its potential. With experience in the recycling and waste management business he is uniquely positioned to benefit from emerging technologies creating a new and green business opportunity. Fiberight, founded in 2007, is focusing on turning “black bag” MSW into next-generation biofuels. The company’s process separates, cleans, and processes the items we throw away into an organic fraction, a hydrocarbon fraction, and an inert fraction. Most of the organic fraction is converted into cellulosic ethanol, the hydrocarbon (plastics) into electricity, and the inert into recyclables and other beneficial products.
Sorting is key
The first step on the road to making cellulosic ethanol out of MSW is to fractionate the waste stream into 4–5 distinct materials. Two of the materials are organic – a biopulp and a bioliquid. It is the biopulp fraction, making up about 45% of the MSW, which is used today to produce cellulosic ethanol.
Sorting the MSW is a key step in the process. “You can’t just back up a garbage truck into an ethanol machine and add some enzymes,” says Craig Stuart-Paul. “The core process really focuses on taking a nonhomogeneous feedstock and creating a washed and pretreated, homogeneous feedstock optimized for enzymatic hydrolysis.” After sorting, washing, and pretreating the biopulp is converted into sugars before further fermentation into  cellulosic ethanol. To do this Fiberight relies on Novozymes Cellic® CTec2 for hydrolysis of lignocellulosic  materials. Cellic can be used on a variety of feedstocks such as corn cobs, MSW, wheat straw, and sugarcane bagasse. “When we were originally developing our Cellic enzymes, I must admit MSW was not the first feedstock on our minds,” says Cynthia Bryant, Global Business Development Manager at Novozymes. “We were of course primarily focusing on corn cobs and stover, but our Cellic products are robust and, together with Fiberight, we have found that Cellic works quite well on the feedstock in their process.” As the technologies for cellulosic ethanol are commercialized, producers such as Fiberight will continue to rely on higher-performing enzymes. Novozymes’ effort in cellulosic ethanol is the largest R&D endeavor in the company’s history with over 150 people working on developing solutions.

Barriers and Drivers
We started in 2000, and in February this year we delivered on our promise – to have the first commercially viable enzymes for cellulosic ethanol by 2010. The launch of Cellic CTec2 and HTec2 in February offered the industry an average 1.8X performance increase over a variety of feedstocks, which allowed our partners with the most advanced processes to reach an enzyme use cost of USD 0.50/gal. Our focus is now to cooperate with our customers on improving the total production process, and see how the enzymes can play an even larger role in driving down production costs.”
Commercialization goals Fiberight chose Novozymes as its enzyme partner because it needed a company that could not only supply the proper enzymes but also help it to achieve its goals toward commercialization of its process.
“Novozymes was very willing and open to working with Fiberight’s technology and came out to our facilities in  Blairstown, Iowa, and Lawrenceville, Virginia, to see our technology first hand,” says Craig Stuart-Paul. He adds that the quality and reactivity of Novozymes’ enzymes work well with Fiberight’s biopulp feedstock and enzyme recycling processes.

Economic Performance
The launch of Cellic CTec2 and HTec2 in February offered the industry an average 1.8X performance increase over a variety of feedstocks, which allowed our partners with the most advanced processes to reach an enzyme use cost of USD 0.50/gal. Our focus is now to cooperate with our customers on improving the total production process, and see how the enzymes can play an even larger role in driving down production costs.

Social Performance
For each ton of MSW 85 gallons of cellulosic ethanol can be produced. And when you consider that the US generates approximately 170 million tons of excess trash each year, the potential is significant.
Fiberight is one of the few companies making biofuels from waste today. In November 2009, Fiberight purchased a dry-mill corn ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa, with the intention of retrofitting it to demonstration-scale operations. In May 2010 the company commenced production in Blairstown, the United States’ first commercial  cellulosic ethanol plant, using enzymatic conversion technology and MSW as feedstock with support from Novozymes.
The Blairstown biorefinery is currently ramping up cellulosic production and anticipates installing optimized MSW processing and pulp pretreatment processes early next year. At full production the plant will process more than 350 tons of waste into ethanol daily. The feedstock used is paper pulp wastes, industrial wastes, and MSW.

Environmental Impact
Besides the 45% converted to cellulosic ethanol, other parts of the MSW are utilized in Fiberight’s process. 15% is  mixed plastics and organic liquor (the hydrocarbon fraction), which is processed for energy production. 8% is  recycled or processed into coproducts like fertilizers or animal absorbents (pellets). The rest is unusable waste, which is shipped to a landfill. In total the process recovers 80–90% of the material, leaving less than 20% to be sent to a landfill or incineration. Fiberight sequesters the energy it produces from the hydrocarbon fraction and uses it to power the plant. This results in its biorefineries having the added benefit of being a net energy provider. Fiberight’s clean technology offers an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the production of petroleum-based fuels.
“Our plants require zero input – we’re not taking any natural gas or electricity off the grid to make fuel,” says Craig Stuart-Paul. “Using our processes, there is enough energy from the hydrocarbon fraction to not only provide enough power for our own plant, but to net export too.”

Further Information

http://www.biotimes.com/en/Articles/2010/september/Pages/makingbiofuelfromtrash.aspx

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