Bollegraaf and their vision of sustainability

Atradius news

Periodically we ask our customers about their views on sustainability. This time we interviewed Xander Ferdinandusse, CFO at Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions, to talk about the company's vision.

About Bollegraaf

With more than 60 years of prominent presence in the world of waste sorting and recycling, the Bollegraaf Group (consisting of Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions, Lubo Recycling Solutions and Van Dyk Recycling Solutions). Together they have unparalleled experience in the design of sorting processes and production, installation and commissioning of turnkey recycling solutions for resource recovery. Recycling usually takes less energy than extracting raw materials and making new materials. For example, new aluminium requires 20 times more energy than remelting old aluminium. The quality of recycled materials is usually just as good. Recycling creates fewer greenhouse gases than burning waste.

Waste solutions
Bollegraaf waste
Our global reputation is based on putting the customer's needs first. As a result, we maximize the performance of our facilities and the ROI (return on investment) for our customers. Bollegraaf Group's solutions and service result from continuous innovation. Our unique expertise makes Bollegraaf an authority on advanced mechanical recycling innovations and solutions. Robotics and artificial intelligence are part of this.
Our vision is clear: Waste does not exist, only a stock of valuable raw materials that need to be sorted, cleaned and prepared to enter a new life cycle. That is why the Bollegraaf Group focuses on the route to upcycling.

How does Bollegraaf see sustainability in general?

We see that population growth and increased production and consumption will lead to raw materials becoming increasingly scarce. By 2022, the world's population would already require 1.7 globes1 to properly support the world's population. If everyone lived as they do in the Netherlands, we would need as many as 3.6 globes2. A sustainable handling of our planet, and thus a transition to a circular economy, is desperately needed.
Raw materials should be reused as much as possible, and preferably as products of at least the same quality. We want to secure raw materials for future generations. Therefore, it is essential to recycle.
Climate change and environmental degradation are putting the future of Europe and the world at stake. The answer is the European Green Deal, which transforms the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy3:
  • zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • economic growth without resource depletion
  • no people or regions left to fend for themselves
We are also called the ASML of the circular economy, and for good reason! The Bollegraaf Group is making a substantial contribution to transforming the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. Recycling raw materials is the basis of a circular economy. We have branches or representatives in most European countries, North America, Africa, Australia and Asia.
Working together for a better world is crucial for Bollegraaf to support its international customers in sustainability and enable the transition to a circular economy. Our installations and total solutions can be found all over the world, for example in Mexico and Ghana. Our activities are a great example of successful cooperation and how important that can be.
recycling machines
Ducth recycling solutions
Sustainability is high on the agenda worldwide and green business is essential for our future. This also applies to our partner Atradius Dutch State Business. They are willing to go the extra mile to support green export transactions. Without their cooperation and support it would not have been possible to assist Ghana in its sustainability goals and Ghana's path to sustainable recycling.

Sustainability is key for you and your goal is to use innovation to achieve Zero Waste recycling. Can you tell us more about this?

Sustainability is absolutely central to us. In fact, the circular economy takes a central place in our strategy. One of Bollegraaf's strategic objectives is to accelerate the transition to the circular economy. We do this collectively by developing and building effective systems in which materials that are recyclable are collected, recycled and reused.
In essence, the Bollegraaf Group's focus is to create value from collected waste in an environmentally friendly way. By continuously and intensively investing in innovation, we offer high-quality recycling solutions. In fact, we come up with advanced processes to create high-quality secondary raw materials from all types of waste streams (from household waste, plastic and waste paper to construction and demolition waste). The challenge here is twofold: On the one hand, improving the quality/purity of recovered material and, on the other, increasing the recovery rate of material. And we do this in an ever-changing environment.
Pursuing zero waste recycling means minimizing the amount of residual waste that is eventually incinerated and ensuring that this residual waste does not contain valuable materials that could have been better recycled. This ambition requires the development and deployment of smart technologies and solutions based on artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced engineering combined with resource recovery expertise in the waste treatment chain. This forms the core of the Bollegraaf Group's innovation projects.

How do you guys view the circular economy? Do you think that eventually everything can be reused?

The EU (and also the Netherlands) wants a circular economy by 2050. This is a great ambition, but a lot still needs to be done to turn the linear economy into a circular economy. In a circular economy, raw materials are used optimally. But without recycling and advanced separation technology, the circular economy is impossible. Therefore, there must be a holistic approach to the materials value chain to achieve recycling with radically improved profitability, where safety is paramount and we are prepared for the future.  For mechanical recycling is an important link in the circularity of materials. Only then can these materials continue to circulate in the secondary raw materials market in a high-quality state and in a cost-effective, automated manner.
Recycle system

What are your expectations for the future when it comes to climate change and the impact on society?

Everything revolves around CO2. Take plastic as an example, a versatile, cheap, durable and lightweight material that has found its way into many industrial applications, such as automotive, construction, and packaging, to name a few.
With a demand for plastic materials of 51.2 million tons in 2018 (source: Plastics Europe4), plastic production in Europe was still 62 million tons (including export volumes). This shows that demand was mainly met with new plastic. Using fossil raw materials to produce new plastics has known negative aspects, such as CO2 emissions, depletion of fossil resources the generation of micro and nano plastics.
In 2018, of the 29 million tons of consumer-derived plastic waste collected for treatment in Europe, only 9.4 million tons (32%) were destined for recycling, of which only 3.5 million tons (representing a 15% recycling rate) were actually recycled. More than 40% of the plastic waste collected went to energy recovery and almost 25% to landfill. Again, we are talking mostly about open loop recycling. This means that new products made from the recycled plastics cannot be recycled again and must eventually "leave the cycle."
Our minimum goal is closed loop recycling for all solid waste materials, including plastics. This means that materials are recycled and then reused to make the same product as it was originally. There are currently good initiatives in the Netherlands, but they are still small-scale. We cannot wait 100 years for everyone to do recycling.
If you look at the process of getting from waste to raw materials, you see that there have been fascinating activities in recent years to use new technology. This is especially in the area of chemical recycling (e.g., pyrolysis of plastic that cannot be recycled). Volumes must be large enough to make new raw materials. Sometimes these are insufficiently present or of too low quality to make it profitable. At Bollegraaf we see the solution, among other things, in new, advanced separation technologies to achieve higher quality mechanical recycling and higher quality recycled material, in combination with chemical recycling.
In the near future, we expect a completely new design of advanced MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities). These MRFs will maximize the performance of advanced mechanical recycling of different types of waste materials. Where necessary combined with chemical recycling to generate high quality secondary raw materials. This aims to maximize the reduction of CO2 emissions. Which contributes to slowing down climate change and thereby reducing its impact on society.


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