Cleantech, short for ´clean technology´, is an important growth sector because it can offer an answer to important social challenges such as climate change and shortages of raw materials. It deals with products, processes and services that, thanks to the use of innovative technology, create both an economic and a social added value through the efficient use of - as far as possible renewable - energy sources and materials.
Closing cycles is the number one task. An important element of this is the transformation of waste into new raw materials or energy. The valorisation of waste and by-product flows is oriented towards adapting or organising (industrial) processes so that waste from a given process is turned into raw material either for its own process once again or for a different process. This produces a significant cost advantage, reduces dependency on external economies and offers important environmental benefits.
Waste management thus forms an important European and Flemish focus of attention. Under the Flemish Materials Decree, waste is no longer regarded as an end point (this is only still allowed under very strict conditions) but rather a secondary raw material or source of energy. Flanders is thus a trendsetter in materials management and an absolute leader in recycling. Flanders is number one in Europe, with 65% recycling of household waste.
Thanks to the presence of leading companies and organisations, Antwerp is the ideal location for companies and organisations that are active in waste management and cleantech.
Antwerp has a rich and highly diversified ecosystem of specialised waste processing companies ranging from mass processing, via processing of organic/biological waste, ship waste, hazardous/toxic waste to metals. For example, Umicore is the world´s market leader in the recycling of metals: in 2012, the company was number one on the list of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world published by Corporate Knights, a Canadian independent research agency.
High industry concentration
Along with these renowned waste processing companies, Antwerp also has a high concentration of industry. Industry seeks to limit waste as much as possible or even to convert it for reuse as raw material or energy, but in addition must also often call upon the specialised knowledge and technology of the waste processing companies. Consequently, industry is a major supplier of and purchaser for the waste processing companies.
One of the most important industrial suppliers and buyers for the waste processing companies is the chemical industry - which just happens to be the single largest industry in Antwerp. The chemical cluster in Antwerp is not only the second largest cluster in the world, it is also very highly integrated. Companies work together closely, including for the recovery of by-product flows.
Logistics and metal
Another important supplier for the waste processing companies is the logistics sector (packaging materials, etc.), which is also strongly present in Antwerp, in part thanks to the port, which is the second largest in Europe.
Furthermore, the metal sector is a major supplier of and above all purchaser for the waste processing companies. Here, too, Antwerp holds an important position, given that the port of Antwerp is the number one steel port in Europe.
Companies in the cluster
Indaver, Sita, Groep Op de Beeck, Biogas solutions, Compofert, Mac², Kayak, Martens, Galloo, SGS EWACS, Mac², De Neef Chemical Processing (DNCP), Comet, Belgian Scrap Terminal (BST), DEME Group – Purazur, IMDC, Umicore…