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Cargill (US) builds waste-to-biodiesel plant in Flanders

To strengthen its fight against climate change, US agribusiness giant Cargill starts the construction of a multi-waste, residues-based biodiesel plant at its existing site at North Sea Port Ghent (Flanders). There, Cargill plans to turn liquid oil, fat and even sewage waste into biodiesel. According to director Alexis Cazin, it really is “the greasier, the better”.

Cargill (US) builds waste-to-biodiesel plant in Flanders

First of its kind in Europe

Cargill’s USD 150 million investment is part of the company’s circular economy approach, aiming to bring added sustainability benefits to citizens, communities, and the environment. The plant will be the first in Europe to make use of the latest BDI-BioEnergy International GmbH technology, enabling the processing of all types of liquid oil and fat waste. These include by-products from food processing, waste from the food industry as well as from non-food crops grown nearby.

“We will utilize recycled products that would normally be disposed of or used for low-value applications,” explains Alexis Cazin, managing director of Cargill Biodiesel. Advanced biodiesel from waste and residues will provide concrete, cost-effective solutions to the end-user.” With the new plant, the agribusiness giant is looking to confirm its leadership position in the global biodiesel market.

Ahead of the trend

European requirements for making biofuel are set to change, as part of the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). The market will require new assets capable of processing more difficult feedstocks. Roger Janson, president of Cargill’s Agricultural Supply Chain across EMEA, is adamant: “The new facility in Ghent will be the first in Europe capable of processing all kinds of feedstocks, including acid oils from vegetable oil refining, liquid residues from industrial processes, and even fat recovered from sewage sludge.”

In the first place, Cargill’s biodiesel will be used for heavy freight traffic, but there is a lot of potential in shipping and aviation as well. In the longer term, Cargill's biodiesel can also serve as a feedstock for the bioindustry. Cazin: “We expect demand from the bioindustry to rise from 2025 onwards.”

No better place than Ghent

Between Cargill’s biodiesel plants in Frankfurt and Ghent, the latter’s “biovalley” turned out to be the best option for the expansion.

Ghent’s biovalley is ideally located in a densely populated area where there is a lot of demand. In addition to the support of the city, the presence of North Sea Port and the vicinity of Ghent’s leading university were important assets as well. 

Alexis Cazin, managing director of Cargill Biodiesel

The new Cargill plant will initially have a biodiesel production capacity of 115,000 metric tons per year, with the aim of increasing annual production to 150,000 tons in the short term. The new facility is set to open in June 2022 and will create around 20 new direct jobs and an additional 60 indirect jobs in Flanders.

More info

Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
30 October 2020

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