Paris, France — An innovation from SUEZ makes its European debut: a process to recover non-ferrous metals from bottom ash produced by the waste-to-energy activities. The Group builds the first plant in Europe to recover these raw materials and gives them a second lease of life in the port area of Ghent, in Belgium. The project has received strategic ecological support from the Flemish government.
SUEZ produces new raw materials and alternative energy from waste, but also from bottom ash. Bottom ash is residue linked to combustion and the waste-to-energy process. It can be used for roads or runways or to produce stackable building blocks mixed with cement. Today, using the internally developed Valomet process, SUEZ is going even further by recovering fine non-ferrous metal particles of between 0 and 20 mm in size from bottom ash.
New industrial plant under construction
The pilot project began in Ghent in November 2015. Metal concentrates from bottom ash were processed and separated. Over a one-year trial period, SUEZ extracted around 1,300 tonnes of fine metal particles, which were then returned to the production process, through foundries and metal refineries. This pilot project recovered tonnes of aluminium and denser non-ferrous metals such as copper, lead and zinc.
In early 2018, SUEZ starts building a new industrial plant in the port of Ghent. The new site is scheduled to be operational at the end of the year. Its aim is to multiply the production capacity of the pilot site tenfold and to process up to 12,000 tonnes a year by 2019. The materials processed will come from European countries, including Belgium, France, the UK and Poland.
With a zero waste target
In view of the significant investment in research, technology and training associated with this type of facility, SUEZ welcomes the support provided by the Flemish government. Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister of Employment, the Economy, Innovation and Sport, underlined: „The Flemish government has invested €1 million to implement the new plant with a ‚zero waste target‘, in Ghent. The facility will ensure a territorial anchorage of SUEZ’ activities in Ghent, a very good news for the economy and the employment in the area. The Flemish support also encourages the international Group SUEZ to invest in the circular economy in Flanders“.
Jean-Marc Boursier , Group Deputy CEO for the Recycling and Recovery segment in Europe, added: „ I would like to thank the Flemish government for supporting this innovative European project. In this new plant, SUEZ will recover bottom ash from its European energy recovery units from 2019 and will thus increase its production of non-ferrous metals such as copper, gold, silver and aluminium. This innovation marks a new stage in the circular economy, in which we give final waste a second life and protect natural resources.“