By 2050, agriculture will have to feed two billion more people, while it will face more and more restrictive imperatives in the future. Agriculture must also optimize food production by scaling down the use of chemical or fossil-based inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, plant health products, etc.). Agriculture needs to be repurposed, now more than ever against the backdrop of the current health crisis. SUEZ aspires to be the preferred partner of its municipal and industrial customers as well as farmers, working together to restore and preserve core elements like water, air and soil. In this context, SUEZ has planned for regulations by launching the circular economy blockchain.
The recent adoption of the French Circular Economy law strengthens the principle that waste is a renewable resource. As such, it confirms the agricultural recovery of wastewater treatment plant sludge. The latter is nitrogen-rich fertilizer, which also contains phosphorus and organic matter that can replace synthetic or mined fertilizers.
The blockchain leverages secure information storage and transmission technology to provide reporting on all wastewater treatment plant transactions. This applies throughout the organic matter value chain, from production to its return to the soil. Such technology ensures full transparency across the industry. SUEZ’s SludgeAdvanced portal boasts a fresh interface that is easy-to-use, providing information to the various stakeholders.
Sludge producers use the digital operating data to independently review the recovery process and proactively monitor developments in their channels. At the same time, it offers farmers a management tool for their input costs, delivering high-quality treated sludge. The blockchain communicates reliable information that is shared within the ecosystem1. As a tool, it achieves first-class traceability and creates trust between industry stakeholders.
Annual French wastewater treatment sludge recovery avoids production of 6,000 tons of synthetic nitrogen in addition to 8,000 tons of phosphorus mineral extraction. Sludge recovery drives a virtuous cycle, supporting agriculture and limiting shipments as well as water prices. Return-to-the-soil activities reduce the carbon footprint of water and agricultural processing. They also combat the decline in soil organic matter.
By harnessing its proven expertise, the blockchain will soon integrate other traceability chains. To this end, it will increase confidence which is pivotal to the circular economy’s success.
The Blockchain and SludgeAdvanced marks a further milestone in SUEZ’s innovative strategy in organic waste management and digitalization. In 2017, the Group launched Organix, the first digital marketplace in France for organic waste. Organix connects organic waste producers with methanation unit operators to convert waste into energy. In 2019, 64,000 tons of bio-waste passed through Organix.
Since we are convinced that organic waste return-to-soil activities are more virtuous than exclusively using chemicals, we transform such bio-waste into compost. We recover phosphorus from wastewater treatment plants, which we then recycle as fertilizers that replace mineral phosphates. A key health challenge lies in ensuring transparency between the organic waste supply chains. Our blockchain delivers fully secure and enhanced traceability of fertilizer materials. SUEZ’s blockchain technology is the first of its kind in the industry. It strengthens confidence among sludge producers who trust our competitive edge as regards agricultural recovery. As a group, we have developed a robust database, which holds each and every stakeholder accountable. In doing so, we have instilled new confidence says Diane Galbe, Group SEVP - Smart & Environmental Solutions BU and Strategy.