A consortium of companies is embarking on the development of a waste-to-chemistry plant in Rotterdam to allow for sustainable waste recycling.
The consortium comprising Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, claim that the plant will be the first of its type in Europe to offer a sustainable alternative for waste incineration by converting plastic and mixed waste into new raw materials for industry.
“This waste-to-chemistry project is an important step on the road to a more sustainable Rotterdam industry. Waste becomes a raw material for the chemical industry. This is a great step forward that fits well in our circular economy ambition,” said Allard Castelein, CEO, Port of Rotterdam Authority.
The joint venture, which has invested €9 million in the project so far, is being supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, which aims to promote new mechanisms and the scale-up of new technologies and, in doing so, stimulate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
When completed, the plant will be able to process 360,000 tonnes of waste into 220,000 tonnes or 270 million litres of ‘green’ methanol. This is more than the total annual waste from 700,000 households and reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 300,000 tonnes.
“This agreement comes at an extremely appropriate time considering the current challenges regarding recycling and plastics in Europe,” said Marco Waas, Director of RD&I at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals and Chairperson of the consortium.
“We can process non-recyclable waste into methanol, an essential raw material for a large number of everyday products, such as sustainable fuel for transport. On the one hand, methanol can be used in existing supply chains as replacement for fossil fuels. On the other, it offers the advantage of there being no CO2 emissions during the incineration of waste.”
The plant will be realised in Port of Rotterdam’s Botlek area, using exclusive technology from Canadian company Enerkem. Non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastic, will first be processed into synthetic gas and then into clean methanol for the chemical industry and the transport sector. Currently, methanol is usually produced from natural gas or coal.
The Rotterdam plant will benefit from the hypermodern infrastructure at the Port of Rotterdam, and from partnerships with Air Liquide and AkzoNobel for the supply of the required oxygen and hydrogen. AkzoNobel is also a consumer of methanol.