Paul De Bruycker (Indaver) breaks ground for circular economy
For Paul De Bruycker of Indaver, recovering raw materials is a guarantee of competitiveness.
ndaver offers sustainable waste management to both the industrial and public sectors. The company originated in 1985 as a joint venture between the Flemish government and industry to tackle the waste problem in the port of Antwerp. “The chemical industry was booming, but there was no solution for the hazardous waste it produced. These were largely exported or dumped,” says Paul De Bruycker, CEO of Indaver.
“Today, sustainable waste and resource management sounds normal, but at that time it was very different,” he continues. “We brought a totally new product to the market. Although it was more expensive than traditional waste treatment, we could assure the customer that their waste was treated in an ecologically and economically responsible way.”
Due to international success, Indaver was privatized and logistics giant Katoen Natie took over the company in March 2015. “We both come from the Flemish clay and we are doers,” De Bruycker says. “That’s why the marriage between Indaver and Katoen Natie has succeeded.” In hazardous industrial waste, Indaver is among the top three in Europe and has plants in Antwerp, Hamburg and Frankfurt. In non-hazardous waste, Indaver operates in the Benelux and Ireland.
Indaver converts that energy into heat, electricity or high-pressure steam for the chemical cluster in the Waaslandhaven, for example. “Circular economy is essentially about both the sustainable and efficient use of resources and value creation,” De Bruycker continues. “We were not in favor of the previous ‘circular economy’ package of the European Commission in 2015 that only focused on recycling rates. That is wrong. A circular economy that does not take into account the added value for our welfare and well-being society is not an economy. Circular economy must be based on qualitative, quantitative and financial KPIs. Only then can it be a success.”
De Bruycker strongly believes in a circular economy for Flanders. “We have few natural raw materials. For that reason, we need to maximally recover the valuable raw materials we do have or import from other countries,” says De Bruycker. “Only in this way can we guarantee our competitiveness.”
“On the other hand, we should not be naive,” he continues. “I believe in the Green Deal, but not everyone looks at the world in the same way. To remain competitive in world trade, Europe will have to stand firm with the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (a carbon tax on carbon-intensive products). World trade always looks for the path of least resistance and that does not include ecological and climate standards.”
Within the Fit for 55 package, circularity of CO2 is also high on the agenda. It is one of the challenges in the coming years. “When we will get much of our energy from non-fossil fuels, there will be a market for CO2. Carbon Capture & Utilization (CCU) is the only fundamental solution that allows large surpluses of CO2 to be stored and turned into a valuable resource,” he says.
In 2024, Indaver will open a new demo plant in Antwerp to recycle plastics through a brand new technology. Thanks to “Plastics2Chemicals” (P2C), two types of plastics will be transformed into basic chemicals for industry, which will then be used to make new products. “We are not only an ‘enabler’ that creates value from waste streams, but also help as a ‘gatekeeper’ of the recycling society to close the material cycle in a high-quality way,” De Bruycker concludes.
Indaver recorded a turnover of €650 million in 2021 and employs 1,700 people. De Bruycker also chairs Circular Flanders, the network platform between government and industry for the circular economy in Flanders.
This post Paul De Bruycker (Indaver) breekt lans voor circulaire economie first appeared on Flows news site – Julie Desmet (March 28, 2022).