VIL and VITO, together with the logistics, recycling and chemical sectors, aim to develop Flanders as a plastics recycling hub. The 'Plastics Recycling Hub' project is the logical next step in a process whereby we ensure that Flanders and the Flemish ports become a hub for material flows and recycling activities. 

The transition to a circular economy is in full swing. Waste containing plastics forms an important source for potential recycling activities with high added value on an economic and social level. Flanders, as part of a larger, densely populated and industrialised region with significant waste production, but with at the same time a large presence of chemical and recycling companies, can play a prominent role in this. The chemical sector and the government are therefore fully committed to the transition to innovative, circular chemistry. 

Logistical challenges 

The large-scale supply of waste streams to be recycled, which are geographically very dispersed, from Flanders but also from neighbouring countries, poses a logistical challenge in several respects, whereby existing systems of collection, pre-treatment, storage and transport must be coordinated in an efficient and sustainable manner. 

The 'feedstock' sources of plastic-containing waste have already been mapped by previous studies (stakeholders, flows, volumes, application areas), but the crucial logistical modalities are still missing today. 

Different sectors join forces 

Plastics Recycling Hub brings together all sectors that will be active in the plastics recycling value chain: producers of plastic-containing products, waste collectors and recyclers, chemical companies, logistics service providers active in transport, storage and handling of waste and providers of logistics infrastructure. 

Project participants: ADPO, BASF, Beaulieu International Group, Bionerga, CHEP, Covestro, Despriet Gebroeders (Looplife Polymers), Eastman, Euroports, Indaver, JoGo Logistics, POM Limburg, Port of Antwerp, Pre Zero, PSA Antwerp, Renasci, Renewi, Suez R&R BE Services, Triple Helix, Vanheede Environmental Logistics. 

Essenscia and Catalisti are involved as advisors. 

Logical next step in the transition to a Flemish recycling hub 

The 'Plastics Recycling Hub' project stems from a whole series of earlier projects aimed at turning Flanders and its ports into a hub for material flows and recycling activities. After all, thanks to more than thirty years of an ambitious waste and materials policy, Flanders is among the world's best in terms of waste collection and processing.  

Together with partners such as VIL, OVAM and Port of Antwerp, we have worked step-by-step, based on research, towards the development of Flanders as a recycling hub for plastics: 

  1. First, in the 'Flanders Recyling Hub' project, we mapped out the most promising material and waste flows on which Flanders, including the port of Antwerp, and the ports of Ghent and Zeebrugge, could focus.  This resulted in five pilot projects for which we developed a cost-benefit analysis, an environmental impact analysis and a logistics plan. Investing in the recycling of plastics emerged as one of the promising paths.
  2. In a next step we mapped out, specifically for the Antwerp Port Authority, what was already happening in the field of chemical plastics recycling in other major port areas and in the associated hinterland. The focus was not only on the gaps that Port of Antwerp could fill in the future, but also on mapping out the existing fabrics in which Antwerp could play a strengthening role. This analysis enabled Port of Antwerp to make well-founded strategic choices.
  3. In addition we investigated where companies wishing to engage in chemical recycling in and around the port of Antwerp can find sufficiently large quantities of plastic-containing waste of a suitable quality in Belgium and abroad. 

The 'Plastics Recycling Hub' project is the final part of that exercise. Now, we are investigating how to efficiently get the waste streams of the required composition and quality to the recycling companies and the chemical industry. 

More info about the Plastics Recycling Hub 

This project is supported by VLAIO, the Agency for Innovation and Enterprise.