Flanders Circular Economy
Industrial Water Utilities Europe
Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Circularity in action: recycled water to help quench Antwerp Port’s future demand

A new collaboration will divert 20 billion litres of recycled wastewater per year for cooling water in the port of Antwerp by 2025.

A poster child for ceramic membranes

The Flemish region of Belgium, Flanders, is continuing to punch above its weight when it comes to connecting the dots on the circular economy.

A new collaboration between the public and private sectors will enable 20 billion litres of wastewater to be recycled per year and redirected for cooling water purposes in the port of Antwerp by 2025.

In total, a €100 million investment will see a new treatment plant being built that will help to upgrade treated municipal wastewater to a higher quality for use in the port.

Treated wastewater from utility Aquafin’s plant in Moerstraat will be directed towards water company Ekopak instead of being discharged to the surface water. A new pipeline distribution network in the port is being developed as part of the development.

This latest development falls in line with broader circular economy ambitions in the region.

In its ‘Vision 2050’ strategy, the Flemish government listed seven priority areas, including the Circular Economy, Smart Living and Industry 4.0. By closing cycles and reusing natural resources where possible, "smart material cycles" can flourish in Flanders and beyond, it said.

Elsewhere, Aquafin and De Watergroep are collaborating to develop a pilot system to evaluate connecting treated wastewater as part of the wider EU Horizon 2020 B-WaterSmart project.

Circularity in action

Water-link, the Flemish investment company PMV and Ekopak are setting up a joint venture to develop the cooling water plant. Ekopak will build and operate the new treatment plant that will use membrane technology.

“Purified wastewater is an excellent source for various reuse applications.”

The agreement followed Aquafin and Dockwater signing an MoU at the end of last year to help reduce dependence on freshwater.

Jan Goossens, a previous speaker at the Aquatech Innovation Forum and CEO of Aquafin, said: “Purified wastewater is an excellent source for various reuse applications. You can upgrade it to any quality, as long as the necessary extra purification steps are built in. Structural applications in the industry lend themselves perfectly to this.”

Franky Cosaert, CEO of water-link, said: “From 2024, we will be able to supply high-quality, sustainable cooling water to our industrial customers in the port. In addition, by using treated wastewater as a source, we are taking an important step to continue to ensure security of supply for all our customers, from households to businesses.”


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