Interview with Antoon Panhuijzen

“If I realise a better waste contract than expected, I look back on that working day with a smile”, says Antoon Panhuijzen, responsible for Van Geloven’s environmental policy. The snack producer is aiming to create minimum waste, applying Lansink’s Ladder for waste processing.

“Within the production process, creating a minimum amount of waste is our highest goal. We failed to do this in 2014 because waste in its totality increased”, Antoon explains.  The most important increases occurred in the so-called “unpackaged” and “deposits” category 3 material. The increase in deposits is largely due to improved water treatment in Tilburg. And in the case of unpackaged category 3 material, it is being separated more effectively, which increases the flow. The positive side of this is that there has been a decrease in residual waste. Antoon goes on to say: “For the waste we do have, we generally look for a way of processing that least affects the environment, or generates new, sustainable energy or materials.” This approach closely matches Lansink’s Ladder, a standard in waste management. The Ladder consists of the ‘steps’ prevention, re-use, grading and recycling, incineration and dumping. In practical terms, the highest step is reviewed for potential realisation first. If this is not possible, then the next step is reviewed.Van Geloven discerns two waste flows: solid waste and organic waste.

Frying oil is turned into biodiesel
The solid waste substances include film, paper, plastic, metal, frying oil, residual waste and small chemical waste. Most of the waste is classed in the first three rungs of Lansink’s Ladder. “The top rung, prevention, has been in the limelight since the introduction of the internal programme 4WIN two years ago. Employees became more aware of the importance of preventive action”, says Antoon. 4WIN is aimed at ‘do it right first time’. In addition to preventive action, recycling is another step that is extensively applied within Van Geloven. Clean residual film is turned into new plastic. Cardboard and paper are recycled into new paper. Old iron is melted into new iron. The quantities of paper, cardboard, film and plastics in Van Geloven’s waste production is largely dependent on the way suppliers deliver the products. Antoon is proud of the spent frying oil that is processed into biodiesel. “We currently produce about 552,000 litres of biodiesel from our spent frying oil.” 

Residual waste: separating larger environmental load due to transport
KGA, small hazardous waste, is processed in accordance with legislation and regulations within specialist companies. Residual waste is carried off-site to an incinerator to generate new energy. The residual waste mainly consists of contaminated plastic from meat wrapping. “We are looking for a better solution for this waste type. However, after a review by Agentschap NL (currently: National Service for Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands), the conclusion was that this cannot yet be re-used. This is due to the plastic recyclers not being able to clean this plastic. As soon as this becomes an option, we will still have to critically review if this actually is an environmental saving in the bottom line. In that case, we will require more transportation, as the plastic will have to carried off-site more than the current frequency of once per month (due to the rotting process of meat residue on the plastic).” Furthermore, residual waste is generated by bins in the offices, canteens and production spaces, including items such as vinyl and nitril gloves, paper tissues, cleaning rolls and hair nets. “The quantity of this residual waste type is so small that separate collection would affect the environment more, due to the required transport.”

Project: organic waste for dog food
The meat used by Van Geloven creates organic waste in the categories 2 and 3 (classification in accordance with EC Directive 1069/2009). Category 2 includes the deposits that are generated in the water purification process. The deposits are fermented, releasing gases that are refined into natural gas quality. Antoon explains: “We deliberately choose to ferment the deposits, as this has a higher energy result compared to the incinerator.” At the moment, we are considering installing a grease trap system in the plant in Helmond that can extract water. This set of measures will generate more usable waste to be fermented, resulting in cleaner waste water. Also, it will require lower transport mileage as water will have been extracted from the deposits, and only the usable waste will have to be carried off-site.
Also some of the category 3 waste, in particular the meat that cannot be used for the company’s commercial purposes, is fermented. Relating to the remaining quantity, Van Geloven is negotiating with a dog sausage manufacturer that could be interested in using the meat. “This would really be a very satisfying solution to me”, says Antoon with enthusiasm.