A sustainability-focused consortium has announced £8m (€9m) of funding for a pioneering facility that could pave the way for making materials from difficult-to-recycle refuse. The first round of investment for a waste-to-chemistry plant in Rotterdam, a further £178m (€200m) is expected later in the year pending financial approval from the project's lead financial advisor.
The first plant of its kind in the world, should it enter production the Rotterdam plant will provide a sustainable alternative to the disposal of non-recyclable waste which would otherwise make its way into landfill, such as plastic and mixed rubbish. The plant will reportedly convert up to 360,000 tonnes of waste into 220,000 tonnes (270m litres) of eco-methanol, a colourless alcohol with similar properties to ethanol.
Achieving that figure would be significant, as it would represent the total annual waste of more than 700,000 households and would save in the region of 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Among the companies making up the consortium is Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam, all of which have pooled resources to develop “mechanisms and regulation” that will enable the state-of-the-art sustainable technology to become a reality. The project, which will be built in the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam and use Enerkem’s proprietary technology, is also supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Province of Zuid-Holland and InnovationQuarter, the development agency for the region.
Marco Waas, director of research, development and innovation at @AkzoNobel, said the investment was an important milestone for the project. “We can convert non-recyclable waste, into methanol, an essential raw material for many everyday products, including sustainable transportation fuel,” said Waas. He added that converting non-recyclable waste into methanol would replace fossil fuels and cut the CO2 emissions that would otherwise be created by burning the waste.
The chief technology officer for AkzoNobel, Peter Nieuwenhuizen, said the latest news would enable all parties to go “full steam ahead towards a final investment decision later this year”. “We have made vital progress in the past months. The partners have agreed to their contributions and roles, we are very pleased with the collaboration with the Dutch government,” said Nieuwenhuizen.