Achieving Zero-waste status by 2050 (becoming fully circular) is one of the main innovation goals of the Port of Amsterdam. To have a fully circular economy model, manufacturers have to be able to design their products in a way that mostly uses secondary materials as input, and that after the products lifecycle, the materials could be salvaged to be reused. The Port of Amsterdam hosts many different industries which generate millions of tonnes of different types of waste streams every year. A very large part of these waste streams, being of very low value, end up being incinerated to recover energy from them or even being landfilled.
During our research, we found that reusing waste as raw material is very challenging. It is hard to source secondary material streams with proper quality certification in large enough amounts to make such business cases viable. To make the circular economy work, the first step is to make industrial-scale waste materials commoditized. Meaning that these material streams should be visible, available, and acquirable to potential users. They should be rated according to their quality, and should always end up in the highest grade use case according to the 9R circularity framework.
Building on the considerations, the Upcycle Factory project will connect the lowest-value industrial waste streams to the value creation chains by:
Sorting and categorizing waste streams by quality and quantity
Aggregating waste streams to overcome overhead costs of logistics
Matching supply and demand of such material streams using a matching algorithm that ensures these materials are always being reused, upcycled, or recycled.
Upcycle Factory is in the Pilot stage, in which materials are added by waste producers, blockchain-based material passports are created, quality certification is issued and an automatic match with the demand side is made.