Recycling and recovery
|Europe

SUEZ inaugurates the Valomet industrial unit: a European pioneer in the recovery of ultra-fine metal particles from household and industrial waste

Today, Jan Jambon, Flemish Minister-President, and Jean-Marc Boursier, SUEZ Chief Operating Officer, inaugurate the largest unit in the European Union for the extraction and recovery of ultra-fine non-ferrous metal particles from bottom ash. The Valomet unit in Ghent’s port area, North Sea Port, will offer a second life to the metal particles previously untapped.

Small objects containing metal, such as ballpoint pens and chip cards, include a number of components that end up in household waste. SUEZ produces secondary materials and green energy from this waste. The bottom ash (residual waste from the energy-from-waste process) is mainly recovered for use as a underlay for road and runway building.

The Valomet unit: innovation for the circular economy 
SUEZ transports bottom ash from some fifty European energy-from-waste plants managed by the Group in Europe to its processing plant in Grimbergen. An ultra-fine fraction is extracted: a concentrate of non-ferrous metal made up of particles of between 0 and 20 mm. 

Today, using the innovative Valomet process developed in-house, SUEZ is going one step further by recovering mainly aluminium, copper and a residual minerals from this fraction. The aluminium and copper are then reintroduced into the production process through foundries and metal refineries in Belgium and in Europe. The residual minerals are returned to the Grimbergen plant to be recovered again. 

With a €1 million support from the Flemish government, the new plant marks a key step for the circular economy in Flanders and Europe. By recovering bottom ash, the process helps to protect natural resources. The Valomet process recovers copper and aluminium using 80 and 95% less energy respectively than traditional mineral extraction processes, thereby also reducing CO2 emissions.

Jan Jambon, Flemish Minister-President, says: “The circular economy offers great opportunities for our industry and society. Valomet is a good example.