Urban Biodegradable Waste Utilisation Modules


From: Stephen Bedford Clark [sbc@fishace.demon.co.uk]
This is a conceptual proposal for submission to the Europe Union based on broadening the model of the Microbrewery Pilot Plant for The Earth Centre [http://www.shef.ac.uk/~ec/aetec/brewery.htm] I hope this will be interest to the group:-


PROPOSAL: The Development of Sustainable Urban Biodegradable Waste Utilisation Modules (SUBWUM) in the European Union.


AIMS: To utilise biodegradable waste streams in an urban environment for food production.

To principally farm freshwater fish and contribute towards the gap in market demand from the decline of sea fishery products.

To fully maximise an integrated waste treatment system to utilise further useful and salable commercial products.

The creation of enterprise and employment opportunities


Freshwater Aquaculture

The decline of European sea fishery stocks is a current ongoing factor in striving towards sustained policies for Europe Union member states.

Emphasis has been placed worldwide on the role of aquaculture as a solution to bridge such market demand.

South-East Asia as the principle zone for extensive freshwater fish culture production practices methods of integrated farming where valuable energy and nutrients are recycled and absorbed.

In the majority of cases countries in the European Union have less space and higher priced land areas this effectively restrict the practice of extensive aquaculture and adds higher production costs. Therefore, many countries in Europe practice intensive aquaculture although respective imported artificial feeds can GREATLY contribute to production costs.

Biodegradable Waste

As a sophisticated western society we have also developed a waste management infrastructure with an emphasis on the minimisation of our associated biodegradable waste by-products.

The concept of waste utilisation is for leading edge technology to convert social organic waste streams to basic energy and nutrient elements and the redirect those elements to production modules.

The United Nations University is heading such a research & development programme bringing together waste treatment engineers, ecologists, aquaculturists, horticulturists and scientists to develop new methods of industrial manufacturing, recycling and clustering.


There would be many examples of a such a systems.

One such example could be:-

Input waste + Biogas digesters + Microalgae production + Intensive Aquaculture + Horticulture + Constructed wetlands = Minimal Waste Output

Input waste:

This can take a multitude of forms and further studies would identify many waste streams which are currently not fully utilised::

Agricultural waste :    Agricultural processing (sugar beet etc..)
                        Livestock slurry

Household waste:        Collection of biodegradable rubbish
                        including kitchen waste, grass and hedge

Food processing:        Processing waste
                        Degraded meat products
                        Brewing & Distillation spent grains and liquor
                        Fishery by-products
                        Food retailing kitchen waste

Sewage:                 Toilet waste material
                        Sludge byproducts


Biogas Digesters:

Basically, biodegradable waste is added to enclosed chambers and decomposition occurs due to anaerobic digestion. Pollution levels decrease in comparison with time and a rich compostable sludge and methane gas is produced. This method is used extensively in South-East Asia as a form of cheap renewable energy for farmers. United Kingdom water companies including Severn Trent Plc have operational plants and there are recorded instances for their use in Scandinavian countries.

Microalgae production:

Another process to reduce organic loading is by intensively cultivating microscopic algae in an enclosed controlled environment. The algae can be harvested and can be used as a food supplement for fish and plant culture.

Intensive freshwater aquaculture:

The culturing of aquatic organisms in an enclosed environment. There are many commercial species of fish and invertebrates which could be produced in zones where land space is of a premium.

One such commonly known fish named Tilapia is internationally recognised as the future aquatic chicken and certain members of these herbivorous species can be raised on a diet of microalgae and vegetative cuttings (see output Microalgae production). Imported feed inputs are minimised increasing the cost effectiveness of operations.


Principally glasshouse production utilising low level fish waste as a nutrient base. Systems such as these are currently practiced in the USA. Production can take the form of salad crops and ornamental plants, trees, aquatic plants as applicable.

Constructed Wetlands

By engineering reed beds to form wetland areas that polish any low level waste output to acceptable and in many cases, lower regulatory discharge standards. These areas can also create valuable conservation reserves to increase local biodiversity.



With particular reference to:

The Status of World Fisheries & Aquaculture

The latest estimates of the total world harvest of aquatic food and feed organisms at an average annual figure of 109.6 million metric tonnes. United Nations - Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 1994

Over 83% of the above total originate from marine based resources, an estimated 34.7 million mt is processed for fishmeal and oil, the highest quantity ever quantity to be utilised for non-food purposes.

In a report entitled The Status of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (1993) the FAO commented :

about 70% of the worlds stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or in the process of rebuilding as a result of depletion

The worlds freshwater harvest accounts for the remaining 17% of the total world catch with about 60% of the 15 million metric tonnes produced by aquaculture.

Whilst statistics from the marine harvest of capture fisheries have shown a marked decline, the output from aquaculture has increased at a rate of 20% per year and is predicted to attain an average grow rate of 15% per annum for the next 10 years (World Bank 1994).

Considering the current estimated population growth, the demand for freshwater food fish for the year 2010 has been estimated at 40 million metric tonnes and the world market will be increasingly drawn towards aquaculture as means of filling the gap between supply and demand.



Simply by utilising existing organic waste streams (to which in several cases contributes to the increase of landfill operations) it is possible by eco-technological methods to not only treat waste but produce useful salable products and create employment opportunities.

This process is an example of active sustainable development considering benefits to environmental impact, food production, social employment opportunities and conservation practices.

In many cases the modules described above represent proven technology and operate as a stand alone processes.

The overall sucess in the design and management of the development of such a SUBWUM system requires the coordination of the input/output relationships to the several outlined integrated disciplines and modules.

 	SBC & Associates
	Sustainable Freshwater Ecology & Aquaculture Consultancy Services
	7 Ballam Avenue
	United Kingdom DN5 9DY
	Tel: + 44 (0)1302 782597
	Fax: + 44 (0)1302 782597
	email: sbc@fishace.demon.co.uk

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