Molecule management

Indaver develops smart waste processing systems and manages complex and innovative treatment facilities. The company believes waste has enormous potential as a resource from which valuable molecules can be extracted. With a yearly processed output of about five million tonnes, Indaver has gained a unique insight into the European waste flow market and the precious materials it produces.

Its corporate philosophy is to seek a perfect balance between economic, environmental and social factors. For each waste flow, Indaver assesses whether the material can somehow be reused. That goes beyond the mere recycling of plastic. Indaver extracts high-quality materials from waste that are subsequently re-introduced in the production process by industry. As fewer basic raw materials are required to produce new products, there is less residual waste. Moreover, very little of the energy that Indaver generates is lost. As such, the company is also a supplier of raw materials and energy.

Molecules as raw materials

If you break up waste down to the smallest of levels, you obtain molecules that are useful to industry, such as palladium, iodine or chlorine. Cooperation with companies that produce such waste and use these substances is a must. Therefore, Indaver seeks clients who need specific molecules and helps close the circle, for the time being through pilot projects, which will later be rolled out on a larger scale. In one such project, Indaver is analysing the technology required to extract molecules for the chemical sector from soiled plastics.

Indaver Molecule Management (IMM) is a project dedicated to achieving maximum recovery of energy and energy from industrial processing waste flows. For example, Indaver has joined forces with Tata Steel in IJmuiden (The Netherlands) to recycle hydrochloric acid. Tata Steel uses hydrochloric acid to remove rust after the rolling of steel sheets. Indaver processes the used and soiled hydrochloric acid into pure hydrochloric acid and iron oxide. Both substances are immediately fully reused in the Tata Steel production processes.

Ecluse: from waste to energy

When waste is burned, steam is generated, and consequently also energy. That steam can be used by Indaver, but it can also be supplied to other companies or turned into electricity using turbines. The Ecluse project in Doel is a prime example of the circular economy: Indaver and Sleco supply steam that is a by-product of waste burning. In 2018, six companies managed to obtain their energy through this steam rather than using gas boilers, saving them 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Infrax is building a steam oven for this purpose. Ecluse is set to become the largest industrial steam network in Europe, with 5 km of pipelines.

Hazardous waste flows

Not all substances generated by waste can be reused in the production process. In fact, hazardous substances should be kept out of the chain. For example, in Doel, fluorescent lamps are recycled at a rate of 95%. The glass, metals, fluorescent powders etc. are all recycled, but the mercury is not. The latter is treated by Indaver to then be discarded at the hazardous waste landfill. The next step is for companies to seek alternatives for such hazardous substances and to fully focus on ecodesign.

Sustainable logistics

The rubbish bag we leave outside our doors every week still has a long way to travel to landfill. Since June, ships have been transporting the residual waste of the inhabitants of Flemish Brabant to Doel. Every year, this amounts to about 60,000 tonnes. This water transport saves 2,400 journeys by truck, which reduces CO2 emissions by 50%. It may be slightly more expensive, but customers prefer this more eco-friendly option.