In the circular economy, by-products and waste are used as alternative raw materials or feedstock and machines or vehicles are shared.
An economic system that reuses products as much as possible and avoids destroying valuable materials is called a circular economy. This approach is quite different from today’s reality. Often raw materials are transformed into products, which are destroyed at the end of their lifecycle.
The circular economy has a much smaller carbon footprint and is based on the cradle-to-cradle principle, meaning the next generation will not have to worry about the consequences of the previous generation’s production and consumption. Circular economy also often has a positive impact on a company’s turnover as the expenditure for procurement and waste is significantly reduced.
Flanders is at the international forefront of the circular economy, and the Port of Antwerp leads the way in this evolution.
The port is home to Europe’s largest petrochemical cluster as well as plenty of waste processing companies, with plenty of storage facilities. In that sense, the port is the perfect place to apply the principles of the circular economy. These companies produce residual products of fossil fuels such as crude oil and natural gas, which other (petrochemical) companies can use.
We encourage companies to invest in a more sustainable industry, within Catalisti for example, which is an initiative of the federation of the chemical industry and life sciences, several leading chemical companies, the Government of Flanders and VITO. The aim is to strengthen innovations in sustainable chemistry and launch them to market sooner. The platform was a huge success. In the past three years, the platform has already submitted applications for nine patents.
Companies that lead by example
- Gyproc aims to produce plasterboards that are 100% recyclable. The company also pays attention to health and ecology, when the boards are transported and fitted.
- Qpinch demonstrated how the residual heat of the companies in the port can be recovered.
- ECLUSE uses waste as a fuel for a sustainable heat network, with an incinerator producing 250 MW of steam. Ecluse has already received the 2016 Sustainability Award from the Port of Antwerp and the Belgian Energy and Environment Award for Sustainable Energy 2017.
- BASF shares its knowledge about biodegradable and partly bio-based plastics with anyone wishing to use biowaste.