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Second award in 3 years for the development of advanced research projects in the water sector

Investments in new 4.0 technologies, in the most innovative start-ups, in projects of industrial symbiosis with a view to a circular economy and in cutting-edge experimentation are the driving forces behind the relaunch of the Italian economy. On the basis of this commitment, CAP Group, the provider of the integrated water service of the Metropolitan City of Milan and one of the leading single utility companies in the country, was awarded the Top Utility RSE Research and Innovation Award for the second time in 3 years, having already achieved the award in 2019, in addition to the Top Utility Assoluto award in 2017 and the Top Utility Communication award in 2018.

The company was awarded “for showing commitment, passion and continuity in research and development and for having made significant investments in the achieving and promoting these projects.” The only water utility company in Lombardy to win in this 2021 edition, CAP Group, in addition to the area of RSE Research and Innovation, also received another 4 nominations for the categories Top Utility Assoluto, Sustainability, Communication and Operating Performance.

The award was made by Althesys during the digital conference “Utilities for the rebirth of Italy. Investments, technologies and sustainability for the relaunch and recovery of the Italian economy", organised to present the 9th Edition of the Top Utility Analysis report. CAP Group thus confirmed its position as the biggest investor in research and development aimed at innovation.

This is precisely the case with the Bioplatform, a project worth over €47 million, which will begin next April: a circular economy hub, the only one of its kind in Italy, capable of combining waste-to-energy and purification in a single plant with zero fossil-based CO2 emissions. The Bioplatform will valorise 65,000 tons of sludge produced each year by the 40 treatment plants in the metropolitan area to produce 11,120 MWh/year of heat for district heating and to recover phosphorus to be used in fertilisers. A second treatment line, which involves an anaerobic biodigester in the treatment plant, will also transform 30,000 tons/year of organic waste (OFMSW, Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste) from the Municipalities of Sesto San Giovanni, Pioltello, Cormano, Segrate, Cologno Monzese and Cinisello Balsamo into biomethane, a biofuel that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 97%.

The Bioplatform will be part of the international research scene from the outset with Circular Biocarbon, the Horizon 2020 project co-funded by the European Union. The objective is the development of a high-standard biorefinery with based on the valorisation of OFMSW to obtain high value-added products, ready for marketing. A virtuous circle capable of maximizing urban organic waste flows, going a step further than the classic systems of anaerobic digestion and composting. All this is possible thanks to partnerships with market leaders such as Novamont, with whom CAP has been working for years in the industrial extraction of butanediol from cellulose, the basic element in the production of bioplastics.