The concept of biorefinery expands the possibilities to extract value from organic matter in form of either bespoke crops or organic waste. The viability of biorefinery schemes depends on the recovery of higher-value chemicals with potential for a wide distribution and an untapped marketability. The feasibility of biorefining organic waste is enhanced by the fact that the biorefinery will typically receive a waste management fee for accepting organic waste. The development and implementation of waste biorefinery concepts can open up a wide array of possibilities to shift waste management towards higher sustainability. However, barriers encompassing environmental, technical, economic, logistic, social and legislative aspects need to be overcome. For instance, waste biorefineries are likely to be complex systems due to the variability, heterogeneity and low purity of waste materials as opposed to dedicated biomasses. This article discusses the drivers that can make the biorefinery concept applicable to waste management and the possibilities for its development to full scale. Technological, strategic and market constraints affect the successful implementations of these systems. Fluctuations in waste characteristics, the level of contamination in the organic waste fraction, the proximity of the organic waste resource, the markets for the biorefinery products, the potential for integration with other industrial processes and disposal of final residues are all critical aspects requiring detailed analysis. Furthermore, interventions from policy makers are necessary to foster sustainable bio-based solutions for waste management.
Keywords: Biological processes; Biorefinery; Implementation; Organic waste; Pre-treatment; Thermal processes.
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