Rotterdam as Waste-to-Value hub

The road to a CO₂-neutral future is no easy task for an industrial logistics complex that operates on a global scale. It concerns a radical transition, in which many interests are at stake.
As part of the national climate agreement, a working group with representatives from the business community, science, administration and social organisations has also set out a route for the Rotterdam-Moerdijk industrial area that introduces far-reaching innovation.

At the same time existing industry in the region is being given the time it needs to make adjustments to its business processes. This will enable the regional economy to be sustained, levels of employment to be maintained and a new international competitiveness to be created. In short, the energy transition strengthens the business climate in the Port of Rotterdam.

The designed route - set out in more detail in the ‘Three steps towards achieving a sustainable industry cluster in Rotterdam-Moerdijk by 2050’ report - indicates clearly that the first step is to ensure the highest possible efficiency and to optimise the existing energy system. After this, the second step builds a new energy system though electrification and the use of hydrogen.
Ultimately, on its own, this will not be enough to build a CO₂-neutral future. Transitioning from a fossil fuel-based energy system using mainly coal, oil and natural gas, to a new energy system based mainly on green electricity for electrification and hydrogen will not be enough. A final step is needed for this.

This third phase is to incorporate the new energy system within a circular economy. The focus here lies on generating the highest possible value with the fewest raw materials. This particularly requires optimising the use of raw materials in the production chain. It also demands an integrated approach and the cooperation of parties throughout the production chain: obtaining raw materials, product design, production process, repair, reuse and recycling.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is placing a strong focus on obtaining an international position as Waste-to-Value Port with many existing circular economy companies and new projects. The Rotterdam port area is an attractive region in which to give shape to the circular economy. The extensive network connections with the hinterland offer a strong starting position to add value to waste streams and to reuse these.
In practice this mainly concerns the large scale use of green hydrogen for the power supply for industry and as raw material for the chemical industry. Besides being a hub for green electricity and hydrogen, the port is an import hub for secondary raw materials (waste & plastics) and sustainable biomass. After all, in addition to hydrogen, carbon is also needed to make products.

Mechanical recycling is the most environmentally and cost efficient way of converting plastics so they can be properly recycled. Due to the growing demand for high-quality recyclate for new plastics, there is a need for further expansion, scale-up and professionalisation of the recycling capacity in Europe. The presence of primary plastics manufacturers and the large supply of waste and sorted flows make Rijnmond an interesting location for high-quality mechanical recycling.

In addition to mechanical recycling, chemical recycling technologies offer the opportunity to convert non-recyclable plastic waste into products such as polymers, monomers, fuels, waxes, aromatics or synthetic gases.
There is also space to expand biomass activities. Biomass is a good replacement for fossil fuels in industry in applications such as liquid fuels and chemicals. The Port of Rotterdam houses the world’s largest industrial cluster that uses biomass as raw material. Bio-based companies here benefit from endless supply possibilities of all conceivable forms of biomass as well as the distribution of end products. The presence of a strong petrochemical cluster and the knowledge and experience of the existing bio-based industry make Rotterdam an attractive business location.

Do you want to know more about Rotterdam as circular hub for commodity transition?

Download the position paper of the Port of Rotterdam Authority

Energy in transition

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to combating climate change and wants to play a leading role in the global energy transition. The reduction of CO₂ emissions and efficient use of raw and residual materials are important tasks for the Port Authority.

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