After five years of research, the SUEZ recycling division has developed a process to recover the ultrafine metal particles from residual waste, also called bottom ash. To this end, the company has built a completely new plant – called Valomet – at North Sea Port Ghent.
At the Valomet plant, mainly aluminum, copper and other residual materials are recovered and revalued. From 100 tons of residual waste, the Valomet process can recover up to 200 kilograms of pure aluminum, 50 kilograms of pure copper and 210 grams of precious metals. The aluminum and copper are resold to smelters and refineries, which process the metals into secondary raw materials and utensils that are reused in the industry.
Karen De Boeck, waste supply manager at SUEZ: “Bottom ash, the fine residual waste fraction – mainly plastics, aluminum and copper – has never been given a second life. At Valomet, the metals are further purified to reinsert them into the supply chain. Up to 96% of the waste can be purified at the end of the waste-processing chain. It’s nearly a zero-waste solution.”
Because of the innovative character of the project, the government of Flanders provided Valomet with a grant of EUR 1 million.
Erix Trodoux, COO of SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Benelux: “The increasing scarcity of natural resources is a challenge for future generations. With this project, we are making a significant contribution to the European circular economy by recovering valuable raw materials from the residues of processed waste, which can then be reused in production processes."