Circular economy

Cleantech, short for ´clean technology´, is an important growth sector because it can offer an answer to important social challenges such as climate change and shortages of raw materials. It deals with products, processes and services that, thanks to the use of innovative technology, create both an economic and a social added value through the efficient use of - as far as possible renewable - energy sources and materials.

Closing cycles is the number one task. An important element of this is the transformation of waste into new raw materials or energy. The valorisation of waste and by-product flows is oriented towards adapting or organising (industrial) processes so that waste from a given process is turned into raw material either for its own process once again or for a different process. This produces a significant cost advantage, reduces dependency on external economies and offers important environmental benefits.

Waste management

Waste management thus forms an important European and Flemish focus of attention. Under the Flemish Materials Decree, waste is no longer regarded as an end point (this is only still allowed under very strict conditions) but rather a secondary raw material or source of energy. Flanders is thus a trendsetter in materials management and an absolute leader in recycling. Flanders is number one in Europe, with 65% recycling of household waste.







Why Antwerp?

Thanks to the presence of leading companies and organisations, Antwerp is the ideal location for companies and organisations that are active in waste management and cleantech.

Rich ecosystem

Antwerp has a rich and highly diversified ecosystem of specialised waste processing companies ranging from mass processing, via processing of organic/biological waste, ship waste, hazardous/toxic waste to metals. For example, Umicore is the world´s market leader in the recycling of metals: in 2012, the company was number one on the list of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world published by Corporate Knights, a Canadian independent research agency.

High industry concentration

Along with these renowned waste processing companies, Antwerp also has a high concentration of industry. Industry seeks to limit waste as much as possible or even to convert it for reuse as raw material or energy, but in addition must also often call upon the specialised knowledge and technology of the waste processing companies. Consequently, industry is a major supplier of and purchaser for the waste processing companies.

Chemical industry

One of the most important industrial suppliers and buyers for the waste processing companies is the chemical industry - which just happens to be the single largest industry in Antwerp. The chemical cluster in Antwerp is not only the second largest cluster in the world, it is also very highly integrated. Companies work together closely, including for the recovery of by-product flows.

Logistics and metal

Another important supplier for the waste processing companies is the logistics sector (packaging materials, etc.), which is also strongly present in Antwerp, in part thanks to the port, which is the second largest in Europe.

Furthermore, the metal sector is a major supplier of and above all purchaser for the waste processing companies. Here, too, Antwerp holds an important position, given that the port of Antwerp is the number one steel port in Europe.   







The Blue Gate Antwerp and BlueChem projects are going all in on cleantech and waste management in Antwerp.


Blue Gate Antwerp

Blue Gate Antwerp is a brownfield of 103 hectares in the southwest of Antwerp that is being redeveloped into a high-quality waterfront and eco-effective business area.

Blue Gate Antwerp offers space to innovative production companies, waterway-linked logistics companies and research and development, and is fully committed to the circular economy.

Blue Gate Antwerp wants to be CO2-neutral. The prevention or recycling of waste, the maximum and integral closing of material cycles, the use of renewable energy, the focus on green products… are all essential characteristics of the site. 


BlueChem is being realised at Blue Gate Antwerp.

BlueChem is an incubator/accelerator for sustainable chemistry. All sustainable chemical entrepreneurs - starters, growth companies and the entrepreneurs within the R&D departments of large companies, universities, knowledge institutions and university colleges - are accelerated and strengthened here. They can count on a financial and go-to-market service.

An important focus of BlueChem is the acceleration and strengthening of chemical entrepreneurs who are active in the valorisation of waste and by-product flows, including biomass, energy and water. In this context, the valorisation of bio-aromatics (plastics) and C1-, C2- and C5-chains (converting carbon into material or energy) are especially promising.  

Companies in the cluster

Indaver, Sita, Groep Op de Beeck, Biogas solutions, Compofert, Mac², Kayak, Martens, Galloo, SGS EWACS, Mac², De Neef Chemical Processing (DNCP), Comet, Belgian Scrap Terminal (BST), DEME Group – Purazur, IMDC, Umicore…

The Flanders Cleantech Internationalisation Award rewards SMEs with the most impact on sustainable development abroad.
The first circular business park of Flanders, offering a healthy breeding ground for innovation companies, is a fact.
Antwerp’s renowned Management School (Antwerp Management School or AMS) has just turned 60. For this momentous occasion, the School has invited its alumni from all over the world to return to Antwerp to celebrate and discover AMS’s future plans and new location. As part of a four day festival, alumni got the chance to join a tour of Antwerp’s most forward-looking projects related to sustainability: Blue Gate Antwerp, BlueChem and Circular South.