Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. However, in North West Europe this potential is hardly exploited yet. This results in loss of valuable materials, increased CO2-emmissions and less use of natural resources. The Interreg North-West Europe project WOW! – Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Waste water (sewage) – aims to make the transition to a more circular approach by matching supply and demand of cellulose, lipids and PHA bioplastics from sewage. The international consortium consists of partners from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Valuable materials from sewage

There are market opportunities for raw materials from sewage, but for this the sewage treatment plants and the industry need alignment. This calls for a transition: sewage treatment plants need to switch from treating sewage to producing valuable materials. On the other hand, market parties need to regard sewage as a valuable source instead of ‘dirty unsafe water’. Last but not least, the policies should better fit this new circular practice. To realize these opportunities the consortium aims to develop value chains for three different raw materials from sewage: cellulose, PHA bioplastics and lipids.

The following activities will be part of the project:

  • Identify high potential value chains for raw materials from sewage.
  • Develop a Decision Support Tool that guides sewage treatment plants in their transition towards a circular approach on sewage.
  • Build and run three WOW! pilots to optimize and implement innovative recovery and upcycling techniques.
  • Create bioproducts made out of sewage, such as bioplastics, biofuel and bio-char.
  • Create national policy action plans and an EU policy roadmap.

Period: March 2018 –September 2021

Projectbudget: 6,4 million whereof 3,8 million received from Interreg North-West Europe


This project is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe program. The partners in this project are:

  • Water authority Vallei en Veluwe
  • Wupperverbandsgesellschaft für integrale Wasserwirtschaft
  • Technische Universität Kaiserlautern
  • Université du Luxembourg
  • Natureplast
  • Avans University of Applied Sciences
  • REMONDIS Aqua Industrie
  • VITO
  • Pulsed Heat
  • CirTec
  • Severn Trent Water

CirTec will fulfil several roles in this project. CirTec is coordinator of WP 3 which aims to identify legal barriers and draft national policy action plans and a EU policy roadmap to improve the reuse of materials from sewage water. CirTec will also deliver the cellulose harvesting plant installation and will do the research in order to optimise the cellulose plant for the pyrolysis process.

For more information please check the Interreg North-West Europe WOW! website.