Enabling water in the circular economy

The water sector is making great efforts to become more sustainable. This was evident in the numerous presentations, sessions and posters dedicated to the topic at IWA Tokyo. Now it is time for the water sector to take the next step and become part of the transition towards the circular economy. In a workshop at the conference, we discussed three conditions for successful application of next-generation circular water technologies: stakeholder engagement, materials pathways and market uptake.

After the introduction by Jos Frijns to the new EU H2020 project NextGen on water in the circular economy, we had three presentations on these conditions. Dragan Savic (CEO of KWR) showcased a serious game as part of an engagement strategy. Francesco Fatone (Università Politecnica delle Marche) talked about the materials pathway in water resource-recovery facilities. And Christos Makropoulos (KWR) presented the online market place we will develop within NextGen as a way to exploit circular water solutions.

A panel discussion focused on success factors in valorisation of residuals from the urban watercycle, including key governance conditions and technology requirements. The members of the panel were: Olaf van der Kolk (AquaMinerals), Heather Smith (Cranfield University), Jan Hofman (University of Bath), Jean-Didier Berthault (SIAAP) and Young Lee (KIST). One of the key messages for market uptake to be successful is for the water sector to step out of its ‘comfort zone’ and reach out to other sectors in the circular economy, to better align with their market needs, requirements and anticipated benefits. Something we will build on in the activities of NextGen and Watershare.