Turning waste into value
Being able to utilize resources more effectively is paramount in a world with limited resources. Circulating materials and substances is a way of ensuring valuable resources are not wasted. However, this means we must rethink how we classify resources and how we can reduce waste. Marianne Lyngsaae, Quality Manger and REACH & Biocide Advisor at Brenntag Nordic, gives her take on how the chemical sector can contribute to resource efficiency.
“The thought of recycling and reusing chemistry is still a relatively new”, Marianne starts off. “However, there is no doubt that the concepts of preserving the value of chemical substances through multiple lifecycles and circular economy are gaining ground within the big companies in the chemical sector. If we are to succeed in circular chemistry, we need to rethink how we use and categorize chemical substances and compounds. For instance, in many productions residual products and waste are categorized and handled as the same. However, opposed to waste it is possible to reutilize some residual products safely in other applications”, Marianne points out.
“In Brenntag Nordic, we have been facilitating a circular project in partnership with a biotechnology company for the past year and a half. The company uses a processing aid in their production, and after targeting some steps in their production, they can recollect the processing aid before it is mixed up with other residual products. In this way the processing aid does not end up as waste but is regained as a circular resource ready to be used in other applications”, she explains.
Referring to the EU directive on waste Marianne emphasizes that is it important for chemical users to appreciate that residual products and waste are not necessarily the same. “Residual products such as processing that are used in the production but not consumed have a potential of being classified as “by-product” instead of waste. As a “by-product” the substance can be used again in other applications under the product legislation. In fact, the EU directive on waste obligates countries to ensure that substances that fulfill by-product criteria are in fact classified as by-products and not waste”, she points out.
“It is important that we become better aware of this distinction and in general how we classify resources if we are to achieve circularity in the chemical sector. For now, the interpretation of the European legislation on waste is still quite rigid – and with good reason. However, with the increased global focus on waste prevention and resource efficiency, we are beginning to see a responsiveness in changing how we understand waste. Hopefully this will make it easier navigating the legislation and keep valuable resources in the loop”, Marianne concludes.
About Marianne Lyngsaae
Marianne is Quality System Manager and REACH & Biocide Advisor at Brenntag Nordic. She has an extensive knowledge on chemical legislation and chemical engineering and within recent years she has engaged in how to reuse and recycle chemistry.