Reflections on the NextGen circular water solutions in the Athens final event

NextGen has challenged embedded thinking and practices in the water sector by embracing circular economy principles and technological innovation.

 That is one of the conclusions from the final event of the EU H2020-project nextGen – Circular Water Solutions that took place on 20-21 October in Athens. More than 60 project partners discussed circular water solutions’ results, experiences and success factors.

Demo case Athens

The Chief Heat Officer of the City of Athens opened the event and argued for more green infrastructures in dense urban environments to improve climate resilience, irrigated through circular water solutions – like sewer mining. Christos Makropoulus presented the Athens (GR) – NextGen Water sewer mining demo case. During the site visit to the Athens urban tree nursery, we saw the membrane bioreactor and composting unit in operation and the resulting beautiful irrigated garden.


Christophe Lasseur from the European Space Agency delivered an inspiring keynote on how 100% closed circles, and full circularity is needed in our human endeavour to go to outer space. Within NextGen, their advanced membrane system and photobioreactor technology was tested for water reuse and nutrient recovery applications.

NextGen's Consortium

Results from the NextGen work packages

All results from the NextGen work packages and demo cases were presented, and Jos Frijns (NextGen project coordinator; NextGen – KWR) chaired the discussions on lessons learned. NextGen key messages:


  • NextGen unlocked the potential of the circular economy in the water sector by demonstrating the recovery and reuse of water-embedded resources (such as water itself, energy, nutrients and materials) in 10 demo cases spread across different European regions in 8 countries (e.g. Demonstration cases – YouTube).
  • NextGen demonstrated the benefits of circular water solutions in reducing water, energy and materials consumption, in the prevention of pollution to water ecosystems (rivers, lakes, coastal waters) and the environment (including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions), and in providing the added value of recovered resources to be used in other sectors (such as agriculture, energy, industry) to implement symbiotic approaches of the circular economy (e.g. 2-Assessment-of-NextGen-value-chains.pdf).
  • NextGen has launched a Water Europe online match-making Water Europe Marketplace for products and services that showcase circular water technologies (e.g. struvite precipitation, anaerobic Membrane BioReactor, sludge pyrolysis, sewer mining), environmental and economic assessment tools (such as Life Cycle Assessment / Life Cycle Costing, Cost Efficiency Analysis, Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment, CirculAR, Serious Game (e.g. toy town nextgen-serious-game), and best practices to implement circular economy solutions.
  • NextGen 10 demo cases provide evidence-based knowledge on enabling framework conditions for the transition to a circular economy in the water sector (e.g. Sustainability), such as societal acceptability (e.g. of treated effluent reuse), circular value chains and business models (e.g. for recovered calcite), and supportive policy and regulations.
  • NextGen policy recommendations (e.g. pdf) include the need for better aligned EU directives that incentivize circularity (such as Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, Sewage Sludge Directive, Waste Framework Directive, Industrial Emissions Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive), improved clarity and transparency for the implementation of the Water Reuse Regulation, and Waste Framework Directive end-of-waste criteria that simplify the process of less costly routes to market for recovered resources.

All final deliverables will be available after review in due time Results – NextGen Water. To ensure the continued use and as part of creating a water in the circular economy marketplace, all our results from the demo cases, circular water technologies, products and tools are accessible on the Water Europe Marketplace, to which other projects such as ULTIMATE Water and B-WaterSmart will add their outcomes. Have a look at this excellent overview:



NextGen has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 776541.