Flemish innovators dominate environment awards


First prize in the Business Awards for the Environment went to Janssen Pharmaceutica for two projects that turn waste into raw materials

The future is circular

Flemish companies made a clean sweep at the Belgian Business Awards for the Environment last night. The awards, given every two years by a the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium, recognise the contribution companies large and small make to sustainable development, in particular through innovative approaches to doing business.

First prize went to Janssen Pharmaceutica, headquartered in Beerse, Antwerp province, in association with De Neef Chemical Processing and InOpsys. The award referenced two projects that allow materials previously considered waste to be converted into new raw materials.

The Circular Economy Project developed with De Neef of Heist-op-den-Berg, Antwerp province, allows solvents to be recovered from pharmaceutical waste and then purified to the high standards required for their re-use in the industry.

The Plant on a Truck developed with InOpsys, based in Mechelen, is a mobile system that allows zinc to be removed from pharmaceutical waste streams and reused as a raw material. Previously this waste would have been stored, then shipped off site and incinerated.

“The projects illustrate the great potential of industrial symbiosis and high added-value recycling,” the award organisers said.

Check your eco footprint

Second prize went to Nnof, in Vilvoorde, which closes the loop in office refurbishment by using cast off furniture and recycled materials. This reduces waste and carbon dioxide emissions.

Third prize was shared. Baltimore Aircoil International, also from Heist-op-den-Berg, was commended for innovative refrigeration technology, which uses less water and less energy than conventional systems. And textiles company Sioen Industries of Ardooie, West Flanders, was singled out for its innovations in plant science.

They have found solutions that make their companies run better and that strengthen the sustainable management of our planet

- Minister Kris Peeters

Meanwhile, the Young Talent prize was awarded to the start-up For Good, based in Antwerp. Its app provides an overview of how big your ecological footprint is and why, then suggests ways to reduce it. Companies using the app can also set up teams of employees who then compete for the amount of improvement they can achieve.

Federal economy minister Kris Peeters congratulated all the winners. “Each and every one has found solutions that make their companies run better and that strengthen the sustainable management of our planet,” he said. “These are inspiring companies; they pave the way for many others.”

The winners now go on to compete in the European Business Awards for the Environment.