Prague has launched a pilot project to collect kitchen waste, or bio-waste of animal and plant origin, from households. Currently, biodegradable waste makes up a significant part of mixed municipal waste, making it significantly more difficult for energy recovery. Much of the city’s waste is incinerated at Malešice, where it is turned into electricity and heat.
The food waste could in the future be used to make biogas to power city vehicles and what is left over can be used as fertilizer.
The city is preparing to introduce city-wide sorting of gastro-waste, which can be converted into biogas in biogas stations, and the residual product can be used as fertilizer. The project builds on the conclusions of the circular economy working group, which is part of Prague City Hall’s Committee on Sustainable Energy and Climate.
“The amount of waste generated in Prague is growing every year. We must therefore look at waste through the optics of the circular economy and learn to perceive it as a source of raw materials or energy,” Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček.(United Force for Prague), responsible for the environment, said on the City Hall website.
“In this project, we are testing the collection of kitchen waste from Praguers and we would like to produce biogas from it, which in the future may be used to power Prague service vehicles or buses of the Public Public Transport Company,” he added.
The pilot project, which will last for a year, will involve approximately 100 properties in Prague 5, 6 and 7. These will be given special 120 liter waste containers. After its evaluation, this service will be gradually extended throughout the entire Prague area.
For hygienic reasons, the lid of the gastro-waste container will be provided with a rubber trim and latch and each container will be washed once a month by the collection company. Gastro-waste collection will take place once a week.
The gastro-waste containers are labeled with information stickers telling people what can be thrown in and what cannot. People can throw food, fruit, vegetables, meat, bones, animal fat, confections, leather, dairy products, bread, greasy paper towels, tea or coffee into these trash bins.
Expired food can also be thrown into it, even in its original packaging, as the biogas plant has technology that can handle the original packaging. Examples of acceptable packaged expired foods are milk in tetrapak, cucumbers in a glass, canned fish, bread in a paper bag, or yogurt in a plastic cup.
On the other hand, gastro-waste containers do not accept soil, stones, wood, branches, stumps, plastics, glass, metals and hazardous waste.
The collected material will go to a biogas station, where it will be weighed, monitored and crushed at the input.
Waste with higher water content is suitable for conversion to biogas. These wastes are not suitable for direct incineration to create energy because they reduce the energy output of the waste. This is one of the reasons it is important to separate and treat biowaste in another way.
The collection of gastro-waste is another step toward Prague fulfilling its vision of a functioning circular economy. This is part of the climate commitment that the Prague City Council approved in June this year.
Prague also since 2018 has has a program to support composting biodegradable waste, with approximately 1,750 containers available for people to acquire from the city and use.
Since 2004, the city has collected garden waste in brown containers, but a small amount of impurities such as a single rechargeable battery can contaminate up to 30 tons of compost. About 13,500 households use brown garden waste containers.
A leaflet, in Czech, explaining the new pilot program can be seen here.