Circular economy

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

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.







Why Antwerp?

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.

Rich ecosystem

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.

Chemical industry

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.   







The Blue Gate Antwerp and BlueChem projects are going all in on cleantech and waste management in Antwerp.


Blue Gate Antwerp

Blue Gate Antwerp is Belgium's first circular, eco-effective, waterbound business park. Sustainable, innovative businesses in chemicals, cleantech and logistics will find the breeding ground for their future growth here.

The site is located next to the river Scheldt, close to the centre of Antwerp. Blue Gate Antwerp is a ground-breaking public-private partnership for businesses wanting to take control of the future, starting today. These goals will be achieved by resolutely choosing innovation.

Together with like-minded entrepreneurs, Blue Gate Antwerp activates circular flows at micro and macro levels. This results in cost efficiency and environmentally-friendly collaborations both on and off site.

Businesses located at Blue Gate Antwerp are committed to eco-effective industry: how can we reduce the consumption of raw materials while producing the same or even better products? These ideas will be familiar to anyone making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The site's location along the river Scheldt offers significant strategic, economic and environmental advantages. Barges provide a sound alternative to road transport, with the opportunity to reduce air pollution, noise and traffic gridlock.


BlueChem is the incubator for sustainable chemistry. BlueChem helps promising start-ups and ambitious scale-ups in the field of sustainable chemistry to accelerate, bring products to market faster and reach their full commercial potential as quickly as possible.

BlueChem focuses on four key areas in the field of sustainable chemistry, which are necessary to achieve a circular economy: the valorisation of waste and side streams, renewable chemicals, advanced sustainable products and process optimisation.

BlueChem offers its residents a mix of fully-equipped and customisable laboratories, office spaces and flexible workplaces as well as a variety of supporting services, such as financial advice, legal support and advice in business development, industrial upscaling and big data, AI and machine learning. The incubator provides direct access to knowledge and expertise through its extensive network of (inter)national chemical companies, renowned research centres and all five Flemish universities. Additionally, the BlueChem Kickstart Fund gives financial support to companies to help customise their lab space.

BlueChem is a unique public-private partnership between government, industry and knowledge institutions with the joint ambition to strengthen the future of sustainable chemistry in Flanders and to become an inspiring model for the EU. The incubator is located at Blue Gate Antwerp, an innovative and circular business park at the heart of the largest chemical cluster 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…

fDi Magazine published a special about Antwerp, based on interviews with prominent captains of industry located in the city.
The Flanders Cleantech Internationalisation Award rewards SMEs with the most impact on sustainable development abroad.
Innovate Antwerp, published by The Global Village, is part of a publication series on worldwide innovative ecosystems. Antwerp is the first region in the European Union that is featured in the series. In the book, readers discover a wide range of initiatives, companies and people that focus on innovation.
Boortmalt is the world leader malting company. Thanks to breakthrough technology developed by Antwerp scale-up Qpinch, Boortmalt will reuse heat in its Antwerp plant, leading to reduction of emissions and energy consumption.