Green Plastic Factory: a solution for hard to recycle plastic
The Green Plastic Factory in Almere has been officially opened on 29 April 2021. The factory emerged from an innovation partnership between the Municipality of Almere, Save Plastics, a circular company, and the Interreg TRANSFORM-CE project. It is a solution to transform single use plastic from local waste stream into new valuable products. Visit the video of the making-off.
Why is this a solution for low-grade plastic?
High-grade plastic, familiar to many in the form of PET bottles, is relatively easy to recycle. But about half of all the plastic in the Netherlands is low-grade plastic that consists of various types of plastic that are hard to separate properly and are often very dirty. In the Netherlands, this plastic is usually incinerated. A real shame, says the Municipality of Almere. The town’s Alderman for Sustainability, Jan Hoek, says that “Almere takes the circular economy very seriously and the Municipality plays an active role. In 2018, we started looking for an entrepreneur to start a plastic processing factory in our town. Our idea was that items for the public space could be produced from hard to recycle plastic waste from households in Almere. We could then buy items such as river bank protection, lamp posts and benches and use them in our town. We would then close the loop and create a local circular economy for plastic waste. We have come a long way and are thrilled that the factory can now be opened.”
How the Municipality and the businesses work together
As part of being the solution to re-use plastic from local waste stream, the Municipality not only supplies the collected materials, but also buys the products that are made from it. This guaranteed procurement is helping get the initiative off the ground and is made possible by a relatively new method of tendering called the Innovation Partnership. This is a collaboration in which the client and the supplier start collaborating at an early stage without knowing up front what will happen. This tendering process can be used to buy products that are not yet on the market or do not yet meet the required quality standards. It allows the Municipality and businesses to work on innovations, and the products that emerge from the development cycle can then be purchased by the Municipality. The Innovation Partnership includes partners in both the Netherlands and Europe (see below).
The Green Plastic Factory
The Green Plastic Factory, located in an industrial zone called the Vaart in Almere, is a pilot factory that is starting small scale production. The factory is scalable and its capacity can be adapted to meet increasing demand. It is not only used by Save Plastics to manufacture items from recycled plastic, but is also used to process the collected plastic. This dual purpose is new for the recycling industry and it could serve as an example for other cities in the Netherlands and in Europe. Visit saveplastics.nl for Dutch information.
‘Save-tasta’ tiny house at the Floriade
The Green Plastic Factory products will also be displayed at the horticultural expo, the Floriade 2022. They will include benches, decking and fences. There will also be a prototype of the ‘save-tasta’ tiny house. The house symbolises the enormous potential of recycled plastic waste. The modular building blocks for the house are produced in the Green Plastic Factory. The 20 m² prototype contains 7,482 kg of plastic waste. This equates to about five million sandwich bags. By recycling instead of incinerating, 7,419 kg of CO2 emissions are saved. This equates to driving 62,352 km in a car. The prototype can be seen at the Floriade from April 2022.
What is the next step?
In the ideal scenario all stakeholders have a circular mindset: companies, government, educational organizations and residents. The first step is relatively easy: mobilizing the frontrunners. The next step is going to be harder: mobilizing the masses.
What can other cities learn from your project?
We make the circular and upcycling process visible and tangible. Our initiative thrives on the collaboration with education and circular entrepreneurs - together, we take steps towards a circular future.
Who initiated the project and which organizations are involved?
The Green Plastic Factory in Almere is an initiative of the Municipality of Almere and is supported by Dutch project partners – the Province of Flevoland, Cirwinn and the Utrecht University of Applied Science – and European project partners. The latter partners are members of the TRANSFORM-CE project of the Interreg North West Europe programme that is part of the European Regional Development Fund (EFRD).
For interviews, tours or technical questions, please contact Bram Peters, Director of Save Plastics on +31 (0)6 53 15 29 26 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the project and the role of the municipality of Almere, please contact Johan Luiks, email@example.com
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