With the company pewag, Spirit Design decided in 2005 to jointly develop a meaningful – today one would say sustainable – product. Spirit Design proposed to develop a waste separation system. In more in-depth workshops, we focused on the topic of biogenic waste from households and restaurants. Then, as now, biogenic waste made up about 35-40% of residual waste. This potential of about 500,000 tons/year, which -in addition to the 1.2 million tons of biogenic waste already collected separately – we want to make usable.
In our user-centered market analysis, we understood that households do not like to separate biogenic waste because it is unhygienic to handle and starts to stink. Spirit Design developed a concept on how to collect this biogenic waste in households hygienically and use it energetically: Eco-In was born.
After developing initial design studies, prototypes were built and tested. The product was also patented: a wet-tear resistant paper sack is held and wrapped by 2 half-shells suspended freely, so the excess moisture can dry off and there is no rotting or odor. When the bag is full, it can be thrown into the organic waste garbage can as a whole.
As part of the cooperative research project EcoIn, in which experts from the Vienna University of Technology and from the waste and biogas industries were our partners, a logistics concept was developed to optimally collect and bundle the existing material flows from biogenic waste and make them available for biogas plants. Currently, about 75% of the separately collected biogenic waste is composted and 25% is treated in biogas plants.
However, of the waste that is composted, a relevant part is well suited for fermentation, which can generate a lot of energy before being used as fertilizer. As so often, we were ahead of our time at that time and failed due to the structures of waste management, which at that time did not yet recognize the value of biogenic waste for biogas production – the existing recovery routes of composting and incineration had already been introduced.