The overall objective of the RUSTICA project is to foster the technical validation, demonstration and implementation of bio-based fertiliser and soil improvement production techniques focusing on waste from the fruit and vegetable agro-food system to close nutrient cycles on a regional level. This objective will be achieved through a transdisciplinary multi-actor approach, aimed at validating, demonstrating and integrating 6 technological options for mineral nutrient recovery from fruit and vegetable waste streams in multi-valorisation configurations in 4 regions across the European Union. This RUSTICA approach will additionally be validated in the context of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), through a close cooperation with CIAT.

Specific objectives

To optimize and demonstrate the suitability of 6 technologies for the recovery of nutrients from fruit and vegetable residues as bio-based fertilisers

To demonstrate the integration of technological solutions adapted to locally available fruit and vegetable waste streams with a combined NPK recovery of >90%

To demonstrate the production of 3 types of bio-based fertilisers blends for circular re-use of nutrients present in fruit/vegetable waste streams, adapted to the local demand

To demonstrate the technical feasibility to replace 5-10% of the current mineral fertisliser use by circular bio-based fertilisers at a regional level by 2040

Development of 5 regional multi-actor networks, capable of co-creating and exchanging knowledge, as well as co-developing a business model for a successful implementation of multi-valorisation of regional fruit/vegetable waste streams

Pilot scale implementation and demonstration of nutrient value chains in at least 2 study regions and fertiliser validation in 3 test regions

Map the impact of nutrient recovery technologies on the nutrient imbalances in the target regions, and develop a roadmap for a nutrient exchange strategy between regions based on the newly available bio-based fertilisers

Systemic evaluation of the potential of the individual fruit and vegetable waste streams processing technologies and the combinations into multi-valorisation chains

Ensure replicability of the RUSTICA results and approach