A few months back, the Economic Board Groningen (EBG) launched an international search to come up with new and innovative ways to make the chemical industry in the Northern Netherlands more sustainable. More than 200 international scale-ups answered the call and this week, the German company CFK Recycling was declared the winner of the Sustainable Industry Challenge, winning €100,000 to set up a pilot project.
The Sustainable Industry Challenge devised five challenges centered around sustainability in recycling, hydrogen and green chemistry. Out of the 230 scale-ups that signed up, 40 were selected for the two-day final event at Groningen Seaports in Delfzijl. The competing companies flew in from the US, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Spain, Latvia, Hong Kong, Belgium, Canada.
Recycling carbon fibers
After a final pitch battle against UK startup Immaterial Labs in a literal boxing ring, CFK Recycling from Germany came out as the winner. The company came up with a sustainable method to recycle carbon fibers, which are very expensive to produce. Because of their low weight and high strength, these fibers are used in the aerospace and automotive industries, but also for the blades of wind turbines.
The German company will be working together with Teijin Aramid, a Dutch industrial fiber production company and part of the Japanese Teijin Group. Edward Groen, Director Energy Transition & Sustainable Development at Teijin Aramid is looking forward to collaborating: “CFK Recycling has already made a lot of progress in recycling carbon fibers. We’ll be setting up a small-scale pilot project to see if we cal also recycle aramid, our own synthetic fiber.”
Added value for the region and international collaboration
Emme Groot, Chairman of the Economic Board Groot, is proud of the enormous international response and the solution provided by the winner: “CFK Recycling came up with a very special innovation to help make the chemical sector in the Northern Netherlands more sustainable. They’re the rightful winners of this first Sustainable Industry Challenge. And it’s also fantastic that we were able to put our region on the international map, together with our partners. Aside from the winner, there are more international scale-ups currently in talks with northern companies and as far as we’re concerned, this competition is absolutely worth repeating.”
Photo credits: Martijn Scholten