On September 9th 2021, Interreg NWE projects ReNu2Farm and ALG-AD hosted online a closing event titled ‘Circular bioeconomy: production of recycling-derived fertilisers and algal biomass’. The event was moderated by Prof. Erik Meers from Ghent University, and it was opened with a plenary session on European perspectives on nutrient remediation and innovations in circular bio-economy. The plenary session included presentations from four keynote speakers: Matthew Thompson from Interreg North-West Europe, Wim de Beuckelaere from European Commission’s DG Environment, Harmen Dekker from the European Biogas Association and Vitor Verdelho from the European Algae Biomass Association. The audience of around 190 participants had a chance to ask questions to the keynote speakers, and afterwards follow project specific content of ReNu2Farm and ALG-AD project in parallel sessions.
Three speakers presented four important topics concerning the different work packages in ReNu2Farm. Katja Weiler from IZES (Germany) started off the session with ‘Reflections on ReNu2Farm: Achievements and potential’. This was followed by a presentation on ‘Recycling-derived fertilisers: Production, composition and user-acceptance’ by Ivona Sigurnjak from Ghent University (Belgium), and ‘Agro-ecological assessment of recycling-derived fertilisers: Insights into performance and environmental impact’ presented by Imke Harms from NMI (the Netherlands). Katja Weiler also ended this session by talking about ‘Policy recommendations and market introduction strategies for recycling-derived fertilisers’. The parallel sessions terminated into a brief closing discussion and final remarks made by the panel of the following experts from the two projects: Carole Llewellyn (Swansea University, UK), Marcella Fernandes De Souza (Ghent University, Belgium), Philippe Soudant (CNRS, France), Katja Weiler (IZES, Germany), Laura van Scholl (NMI, the Netherlands) and Niamh Power (MTU, Ireland). The panel discussion pointed out that the user acceptance of recycling-derived fertilisers and algal derived products, along with legal framework, remain one of the biggest challenges for the future developments. Finally, participants of the event had an opportunity to speak directly with members of both project consortiums on certain topics by dividing the meeting into ten smaller breakout room sessions.
Despite the virtual nature of the event, the turn-out of participants as well as their engagement with the speakers were remarkable. Although it was a first experience for the organisers in arranging an event of such a large scale virtually, the positive feedback from the participants has given an increased impetus and confidence to organise more similar events in the future.