Port of Antwerp proudly announced last May that the Saudi company Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) will invest 3.7 billion euros (roughly U.S. $4 billion) in a green project at one of its docks. The Saudi company’s waste-to-chemical plant will turn unrecyclable plastic into “green” urea and ammonia through gasification, which could be fed into a cluster of chemical companies already present at Antwerp’s port. The Dutch company Howa International as its sole vendor for the waste.
The Port of Antwerp lauded the project as 40 percent more energy-efficient than a classical waste incinerator, but doubts about how green the project actually is have quickly developed. Underwhelming results from previous attempts at similar projects, doubts about the project’s feasibility report and the uncertain final destination of the plant’s products all make the grounds for port management’s and city officials’ initial euphoria seem less and less certain.