Production of biogas and fertilizer from biowaste streams and wastewater sludge.
The amount of biowaste is growing. Previously it was landfilled causing difficulties with methane gas creation under anaerobic conditions, odour and most of all, landfilling contributed to a valuable resource and energy loss.
LABIO Ltd biogas and composting plant is a joint venture owned by Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd and the public water service provider Lahti Aqua Ltd. It produces biogas and fertilizer from municipal biowaste, biowaste from food industry, sludge from wastewater treatment plants and biodegradable material from farming, forestry, fisheries etc. LABIO Ltd, the largest biogas production and refining plant in Finland, is part of the industrial symbiosis in Kujala Waste Treatment Centre in Lahti. LABIO Ltd processes 80 000 tons of waste/year producing 50 GWh/a biogas and 20.000 t/a compost.
Biogas generated in the dry digesters is transported through the pipes to the nearby operator for upgrading and distribution in the gas grid. The digestate is processed with other biowaste in the composting facility to produce compost, soil and other growing solutions used in agriculture, cultivation and gardening. Heat energy from the composting process is used to heat the biogas facility.
Besides other benefits of a dry anaerobic digestion, no additional water is required to dilute biomaterial for transportation through pipes. The operation of the plant offers an environmentally friendly, reliable, secure and odourless production of biogas and compost.
The plant was financed through public companies Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd and Lahti Aqua Ltd with total investments of 15 M€. The investment in the plant was made based on the owners’ waste treatment needs and to follow public strategy. The number of employees in year 2017 was 14.
Evidence of success
LABIO Ltd is an independent company financing all costs through selling waste treatment services and biogas. The turnover in 2017 was 5,8 M€ consisting of gatefees 4,8 M€ and biogas income 1 M€. The operating profit was 0,6 M€.
Concerning the environmental benefits, landfilling of biowaste has finished and combustion decreased significantly. Odour emissions and greenhouse gas emissions are considerably lower. At the same time, renewable energy is produced the nutrients utilised.
Waste markets are developing quite fast. Long lasting agreements in order to ensure adequate incoming waste streams are needed to pay back big investments.
Potential for learning or transfer
The composting plant has operated since 2005 and the biogas plant since 2014. Biogas production helps to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions, and it does not cause any fine particulate emissions. The odour emissions are <500 ou/m3. The carbon footprint of the production chain is 11 000 tons CO2e/a negative (biogas compensation and nitrogen and phosphoric compensation taken into account). The carbon footprint of the nitrogen fertilizer is 300-500% lower than of mineral fertilizers.
Because of the small population base in Finland, cooperation of local neighbouring companies and municipalities is essential for building successful and functional industrial symbioses and bio-based circular economy. Also, separate collection of biological waste streams is fundamental for the success.
At the start, LABIO Ltd served Päijät-Häme region, but nowadays it is also offering biowaste treatment services for whole Southern Finland, which shows the potential for growth
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