Indaver wants to build new recycling plants for plastics waste in Europe

Now that Europe is going to take a stricter view on the treatment of plastic waste, it has become even more important to find a sustainable solution. Indaver is setting Molecule Management to full speed and aims to use its ten new facilities in Europe to recover feedstock from plastic for use in the chemical industry.

Indaver will develop the new facilities with the support of its new shareholder Katoen Natie, confirmed Fernand Huts, CEO. Each facility will have the capacity to treat 100,000 tonnes of mixed or lightly contaminated plastic, will cost 80 million euro, and will provide employment for 40 people. The first facility will be built in Flanders, with the remainder in areas of Europe where a lot of plastic waste is available, so that treatment can be decentralised. This geographic dispersal will avoid the long-distance transport of this relatively light waste fraction.

Plastic waste is currently treated in one of three different ways. If the plastic has been separated out, it can be cleaned and pressed into plastic granules to be used as a raw material for new plastic products. Plastics that are mixed with household waste are incinerated in most European countries, then during this process energy is recovered in the form of steam and electricity; in many other countries this type of plastic still goes to landfill. Finally, plastic waste that is collected selectively, but slightly mixed and lightly contaminated (by additives such as flame retardants) is exported to Asia.

However, in some European countries, there is a still a trend of landfilling plastic waste. In order to divert plastic waste from landfill, Europe is tightening legislation for plastics waste. Improved and increased sorting will therefore be necessary. In particular, in the category of slightly mixed and lightly contaminated plastics this offers opportunities that Indaver would like to take full advantage of. There is an estimated 2 million tonnes of this type of waste per year, of which Indaver hopes to be able to treat half.

With its Molecule Management, Indaver wants to use the new facilities to depolymerise plastics, or in other words, to break the plastics down into shorter hydrocarbon chains that can serve as feedstock for the chemical industry. This thermal molecular recycling produces high-quality materials that can be used to make high-quality products. Thus Indaver is once again making an important contribution to the circular economy.

In a circular economy the need to use new raw materials for goods production is kept as low as possible. But manufacturers and consumers need to be confident that recovered materials are of good quality so that the quality and safety of products are not affected. Indaver has the knowledge and technology in-house to recover and supply these high-quality recycled materials.

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