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Inauguration of new waste sorting line and wind turbine at Renewi’s Ghent site

26 April 2023

Renewi, Europe's leading waste-to-product company, has officially opened its latest state-of-the-art sorting line in the presence of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Mayor of Ghent, Mathias De Clercq.  This  is an important step in Renewi's ambition to be a leader in recycling and a front-runner in the circular economy. Accordingly, Renewi fully supports the Flemish regulations (Vlarema 8) and the Region's ambition to become a recycling hub. The new secondary raw materials production site operates on green energy, thanks to its collaboration with ENGIE, with Renewi also unveiling the tallest wind turbine on the Belgian mainland.

State-of-the-art waste sorting line

With a capacity of 125,000 tonnes per year, the sorting line recycles an additional 38% of raw material from company residual waste. In total, that means 56% of commercial waste will be given a new life and this in turn means that up to 60,000 kilos of different types of recyclates will be extracted which, thanks to the new high-tech sorting line, will be reused as a secondary raw material in the economy. And because less waste goes to incineration, this also contributes to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.

“We are a waste-to-product company: this means we don't just focus on collecting and sorting waste streams. Quite the opposite: our strategy is to recycle the collected waste streams into high-grade raw materials,” explains Mark Thys, Managing Director for Renewi Belgium. “We are therefore prepared to make the necessary investments in state-of-the-art technology, such as screening machines, windshifters and magnets, controlled in combination with recognition cameras with infrared technology (NIR) and artificial intelligence that optimise the entire sorting and reproduction process. It goes without saying that, with these investments, we support the Flemish ambition to become the recycling hub of Europe and offer a full-service solution for all type of waste streams for our customers.”

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo attended both the inauguration of the sorting line and wind turbine. He said: “It’s good to see that we are opting for green growth all over the country. The fact that a company like Renewi is linking circular economy with renewable energy is a double win.”

The firm foothold the recycler already has in Ghent will only increase in the future. The total investment is estimated at €20 million.

Belgium's tallest wind turbine

Alongside the sorting line, the new wind turbine, in partnership with ENGIE, was also officially inaugurated at the site. At 242m, this becomes the tallest wind turbine on the Belgian mainland, and will supply green power to the Ghent site. Alongside Renewi’s commitment to optimising recycling and production of secondary raw materials, this underlines its ambition, and its actions, to make its own operations more sustainable.

Thierry Saegeman, CEO of ENGIE in Belgium, commented: “Since 2001, ENGIE has already commissioned more than 200 wind turbines across Belgium. Today, with the inauguration of the tallest wind turbine to date on the Belgian mainland, we celebrate another milestone made possible by the impressive technological developments of the past 20 years. The large size of the turbine maximises the site's wind energy potential and allows Renewi to cover 70% of its local energy needs with locally generated green electricity. The current geopolitical and economic context confirms that renewables are playing an important role in the transition to the strong, reliable and carbon-neutral energy system of the future. With this wind turbine, ENGIE is offering Renewi a sustainable solution tailored to its innovative and future-oriented Ghent site.”

Mayor Mathias De Clercq can only applaud the fact that all these developments are taking place in Ghent, adding: “Ghent is a pioneer in terms of circular economy. We started small as pioneers, but our cluster has now grown into a network of pioneering cleantech players. All have one goal: to move from a linear to a circular economy to reduce our carbon emissions and make our city climate-neutral by 2050.”

Renewi is investing in new sorting lines at other sites in Belgium besides Ghent. In Puurs, for example, Renewi recently launched a similar recycling plant.