Act&Sorb recycles non-recyclable materials!
December 7, 2016
Even as a child, Kenny Vanreppelen used to turn the household’s water bottles into toys and build things with them! So it’s hardly surprising to find him now at the helm of Act&Sorb, a very ambitious start-up bent on doing the impossible, namely recycling the materials that other recyclers discard. Interview.
Can you tell us, in a few words, what Act&Sorb has set out to achieve?
We want to recycle waste streams with a high organic content into either energy or, preferably, new, high-value-added products and materials. These streams might come from homes (through waste sorting), targeted collections or a specific industrial site. We began by developing an initial, innovative, self-powered process that can convert a composite – typically MDF panels – into energy (in the form of heat or electricity) and into a new, ready-to-use material.
How is that then used?
We can’t say too much about it yet for strategic reasons… But demand for this material is soaring (editor’s note: up to 10% per year) and it is used by virtually every industry, from water treatment to car making to the food industry. What’s more, global MDF waste streams (roughly 70 million tonnes per year) would cater for a very large share of this market worldwide.
What stage are you at today? (late 2016)
The process works very well in a laboratory setting and we are actively preparing our first life-size demonstrator, which we hope to launch in early 2017. The tests have also confirmed its economic feasibility, which proves to be heavily dependent on the technology in this type of project. And, actually, a large part of our work and our expertise concerns this interdependence between the technology and the business side. We never doubted its actual technical feasibility : the key success factors lie more in the interaction between the process and its economic environment: the logistics, added value, ROI, etc. Moreover, we share this dual technology/business approach with InnoEnergy, which fully understood our business model and helped cater for our needs.
And what precisely will your business model be?
On one hand, we plan to have our own production plant up and running in 2019. But we also intend to license our technology internationally, because it obviously makes more sense to install our process as close as possible to the waste streams. We are therefore going to conduct two funding rounds: the first for around €1 million for the demonstrator, and the second one for around €15 million for our first plant.
What can we wish you for 2017?
A great demonstrator; committed investors; new processes under R&D; and, most importantly, industrial partners keen to build the future with us – in other words, to (finally) recycle their non-recyclable wastes!
Act&Sorb in brief:
Head office: Belgium
Partners: InnoEnergy, Universiteit Hasselt, GreenVille, Limburg Startup