Invited by the Association of Water Authorities and AquaMinerals, Chris Stoffer, SGP member of the Dutch Lower House, paid a working visit on 9 May to the Apeldoorn wastewater treatment plant of the Vallei and Veluwe Water Authority. The visit centred on the circular economy theme, which the Lower House will be discussing in committee on 11 May.
Stoffer was brought up to date on the possibilities for the recovery and market uptake of resources and energy from wastewater. Water Authorities have been active for many years in recovering resources and energy from wastewater. They recover 18 different resources from the water, including cellulose, phosphorus, nitrogen, CO2, bioplastics & fatty acids, Kaumera and biomass. AquaMinerals takes care of the product and market development of these resources for the Water Authorities, and sells them on the market for a number of Water Authorities.
The opportunities and challenges surrounding resource recovery and market uptake were addressed in several presentations and discussions. The exchanges also covered what the Lower House could do to allow the recovery and market introduction of valuable resources to run more smoothly. Secondary raw materials are disadvantaged in a variety of ways when compared to primary raw materials. One of the stumbling blocks is that the recovered resources must be freed from their status as waste products, if they are to be successfully introduced to the market. In practice, this involves an extremely difficult process, partly because of the lack of clear risk assessment standards, the absence of (assessment) capacity at the public authorities, and insufficient consideration given to the importance of the circular economy.