Port of Rotterdam-Leading the way

The world is fast-changing and evolving while searching for new and innovative ways of environment-friendly growth. Since the late 1990s, the concept of circular economy has become one of the most prominent topics when it comes to talking about the ‘next big thing’ in this sphere of development. A large number of countries have tried to adopt this system of economy and many others are actively engaged to completely transition themselves into circular economies.

The concept of the circular economy is relatively new and needs careful formulation and implementation. Governments and municipal corporations need to stay careful while transitioning to circular economy as it can cause economic slowdowns and huge economic losses to the public if not implemented appropriately. In this sphere, the city of Rotterdam is leading the way and is getting ready to serve as an example to cities around the world. The progress of the city of Rotterdam is discussed hereafter.

The port of Rotterdam is one of the leading organizations that are aiming to make a quick transition to the circular economy and serve as an example to others. The authority has undertaken a number of pilot projects in order to work towards creating a circular economy in accordance with the Rotterdam Circularity Programme 2019-2023. Some of these projects are:

Waste to chemicals

Air Liquide, Enerkem, Nouryon, the Port of Rotterdam and Shell have come together to build an advanced ‘waste to chemicals’ (W2C) plant in the city of Rotterdam. The plant will be the first of its kind in Europe that will work towards converting waste plastics and other mixed wastes into new raw materials like methanol which will facilitate the chemical and transport industry. According to estimates, this will reduce the COemissions by approximately 300,000 tonnes.

Plastic to plastic

Ioniqa is a good example of a new industry reacting to the need for high-quality circular re-use: this start-up originally from Eindhoven developed a recycling process entailing the recycling of plastic PET bottles (made of polyethene terephthalate), fleece sweaters and all sorts of different types of PET waste into a previously impossible colourless pure usable chemical raw material for new products: ‘the forever PET bottle.’ The PET bottle recycles using this technology will be of ‘virgin-quality’ and will benefit the environment world over. One of the biggest sources of plastic waste around the world is PET bottles. Using this technology, almost all of this waste will be eliminated and reused-a typical example of working towards a circular economy. The project has already been set in motion in Rotterdam with a plant coming up in the city which will incorporate Ioniqa’s new technology.

Products on demand

RAMLAB (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB) is an initiative of three founding partners: Port of Rotterdam, Innovation Quarter and RDM Makerspace. It is the world’s first field laboratory with 3D metal printers focusing on the port-related industry. The aim of the company is to make parts and products available to the users as and when they require. This will eliminate the need to store large stocks of products for distribution. The printer will print products whenever someone demands it. This will also help in reducing the time that a user has to spend in searching for specialist equipment. RAMLAB will be able to do so quickly and whenever required. This will also reduce the release of pollutants that are byproducts of industrial production of iron and metal-based products.

Thus, all in all, the Rotterdam Port Authority has made huge strides in moving towards a circular economy. The case of this city, and in particular the port authority, is commendable. If the projects perform as planned, Rotterdam will be one of the first economies in the world to completely transition to becoming a circular economy.

Source: Research Based