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Basics Picture 6: Burl

Basics Picture 6: Burl wood biofilter for exhaust air After the composting phase the mature compost is screened again, and different fractions with different average particle sizes are sacked or otherwise packed for different purposes. In Moerdijk from a first 40mm fraction heavy particles such as stones or glass are gravimetrically separated. The rest is then once again sieved to a fraction smaller than 15mm as a high quality compost (picture 7) which is sold to farmers (80-90%) or garden owners (10-20%) as soil conditioner, fertilizer or a substitute for peat. The 15-40 mm fraction is sold to a special incineration plant in Germany as ‘clean biomass for incineration’. This fraction may even contain up to 3% plastic waste. The residual bigger plastic waste pieces after screening are again collected and disposed of to a waste incineration plant. Tim Brethouwer is happy that in Moerdijk there is such an incineration plant right next door. This saves the trouble of transporting the material. “Before we could bring the ‘clean biomass’ to that special incineration plant we recycled the 15-40mm fraction into the process to compost it again for a further 3 weeks,” said Mr. Brethouwer. When asked whether the operators of industrial composting plants like or dislike biodegradable plastics in their incoming feedstock Tim Brethouwer said: “We don’t have a problem with bioplastics. We accept biodegradable plastics but we don’t seize them”. Mr. Lammers said “We appreciate the use of biodegradable bags for the collection of biowaste instead of traditional plastic bags. If everybody would use this kind of bag we would not no longer need manual sorting.” Dr. Hubert Seier, technical controller of the plant in Dortmund added: “However, I’d like to point out that we accept biodegradable plastic bags BUT ... ,” and he explained that educating the public is an important subject. Mrs. Smith, let‘s say, puts a biodegradable bag, with her kitchen waste, into the bio-bin and her neighbour watches her from behind the curtain. Then the neighbour puts plastic bags in the bio-bin, not caring whether they are biodegradable or not. This must not happen. Picture 7: This handful or high quality compost contains more microorganisms than the number of people on earth When talking about the different end of life options, Tim Brethouwer points out that (at least in the Netherlands) composting with costs of about 35 EUR/tonne is cheaper than incineration where 100 EUR/ tonne have to be paid. The most expensive solution is landfill. Here in addition to 85 EUR tax per tonne an additional gate fee of 20-30 EUR has to be paid. And from a CO 2 point of view he considers composting as the better alternative as composting locks CO 2 in the soil and releases it to the atmosphere only very slowly. About 10% of the CO 2 is still in the soil after 100 years, he explains. As one of the solutions with the best future prospects Tim Brethouwer sees the combination of anaerobic digestion (biogasification) and subsequent aerobic composting. Here three products will be produced: biogas that can be converted into or mixed with compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) a fuel that is very popular with a large number of Dutch car owners. The second product is compost and the third is the ‘clean biomass for incineration’ mentioned above. 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4

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