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Sustainable Waste Utilisation and Biomass Energy Production

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Waste and Recycling".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 May 2025 | Viewed by 59

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch 6100, South Africa
Interests: environmental and civil-engineering; waste management; climate change; bioenergy; waste to energy; biogas and bio-hydrogen from organic waste; systems modelling; decision-support tools; renewable energy from waste; GHGs control from zero waste in Africa and developing countries; circular economy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is our pleasure to announce a new Special Issue “Sustainable Waste Utilisation and Biomass Energy Production” of the journal Sustainability.

The sustainable decarbonisation of the waste and energy sectors, particularly in developing countries, can be catalysed by the systematic insertion of decentralised waste bio-refineries in municipalities for the valorisation of organic waste and biomass into high-value products, compost, and/or energy. Biomass energy refers to renewable energy from plants, animals, as well as from the treatment of agricultural waste, residues from the forestry and forestry products industry, organic domestic waste, food and yard waste and sanitation waste. Between 2010 and 2020, total per-capita waste generation decreased by 4.2% in the EU; mineral waste constitutes a large portion (64% in 2020). If this type of waste is excluded, the trend in waste generation is driven by decreasing waste generation in the manufacturing and the energy sectors, and increases in waste generated by households and by water and waste treatment activities. In China, from temporal data, the economy of scale in solid waste production is lost by cities over time. But ongoing urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and other areas of the developing world would lead to an increase in superlinear waste production. In South Africa, 76% of yearly waste production is landfilled, while the waste sector accounts for 4.3% of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (DFFE, 2021), mainly originating from the decomposition of the biodegradable fractions (food and garden waste), which make up 30-60% of the total municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the country. It is essential to reduce the impact of organic waste management by promoting the circularity of by-products and minimising the risk of failure of waste-to-energy technologies. 

Biomass and waste treatment technologies involve thermal (gasification, pyrolysis, and torrefaction), biological (anaerobic digestion, and fermentation), mechanical, or chemical processes through which biomass is converted into biogases (e.g. methane, bio-hydrogen) or biofuels (e.g. ethanol). Gaps exist in the scaling-up of innovative technologies such as two-stage anaerobic digestion for the production of bio-hydrogen and methane. This Special Issue explores drivers and barriers, as well as decision support tools, in the development of waste biorefineries for the sustainable insertion and localisation of waste and biomass to energy technologies.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • The suitability of feedstocks for biogas and biohydrogen production in waste biorefineries;
  • Innovation and technology advancement in waste/biomass to energy technologies;
  • Waste-to-energy technology portfolios that can achieve carbon neutrality;
  • Barriers and drivers in the development of waste-to-energy roadmaps;
  • Energy system models for the integration of bioenergy from waste and biomass into the grid;
  • Decision support tools for the sustainable insertion and scaling-up of waste/biomass to energy technology;
  • The implementation of waste biorefineries for biomass energy in developing countries;
  • Bio-hydrogen production from organic waste/biomass 2S-AD;
  • Waste-to-energy systems as part of the circular economy.

Prof. Dr. Cristina Trois
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • biofuels
  • bioenergy
  • waste-to-energy roadmaps
  • biohydrogen
  • biomethane
  • agrobiomass
  • forest biomass
  • biorefineries
  • decision support tools

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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