On 1 January 2018, Aa and Maas will become the first waterboard shareholder in AquaMinerals, the drinking water sector’s partnership that gives recovered resources a second life. This new membership promises to be the beginning of a broader trend.
The waterboards aim to extract maximum value from the energy and raw materials contained in wastewater (www.winnenwatvanwaardeis.nl). A key element involved is finding sustainable and profitable market chains for the raw materials. To organise this, Aa and Maas has sought a partner and found one in AquaMinerals. Starting next year, the valorisation of a number of its raw materials will occur through a single channel.
At this time, Aa and Maas disposes of about 4500 tonnes of wastewater raw materials and residuals that are of interest to the market. These include phosphorus, recovered from the treatment processes at Cuijk (and, in 2018, at ’s-Hertogenbosch also), and cellulose recovered at Aarle-Rixtel. Examples of possible applications are: phosphorus as a green fertiliser in agriculture, cellulose for asphalt, and CO2 for horticulture greenhouses or the process industry. And this is likely only the start: besides phosphorus and cellulose, wastewater raw materials can also be used for example to produce bioplastics and alginate.
Aa and Maas Executive Director Peter van Dijk notes: ‘This shareholder participation gives Aa and Maas access to a large network of market players. This supports us, not only in the sale of existing wastewater raw materials, but also in the research into new raw materials. With this initiative we expect to enhance the value of our position in the circular economy.’
AquaMinerals, a non-profit shared service centre, is no novice in the raw materials market. As Managing Director Olaf van der Kolk says: ‘We have been looking after the sale of residuals for the drinking water companies for more than twenty years now. For instance, calcite, iron sludge and filter gravel find new destinations, which include the glass and carpet industries, agriculture and horticulture, and the biogas sector. A waterboard’s accession to AquaMinerals is the logical next step. Clean water is after all a shared mission of the waterboards and the Dutch drinking water companies. Moreover, both treatment processes generate tonnes of raw materials.’