Grodan’s recycling top-3 according to ‘guru’ Tom Vitters

Recycling of growing media has been a top priority for Grodan for many years. For instance, the plastic foils around the substrates get a second life, and the growing media themselves are turned into fiber used for brick stones. In 2020, Grodan again took a few important steps in their recycling efforts. ‘Guru’ Tom Vitters, seasoned Manager Recycling Europa and Export markets at Grodan, shares three highlights. With an added bonus and next step: the development of an international dashboard to measure all waste streams in Europe.

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The fight with corona

The greatest recycling highlight of 2020 according to Tom Vitters is by far the way Grodan is dealing with the coronavirus. As a result of the pandemic, several important brick factories in England suddenly shut down and these measures hit hard. Vitters: “Before the crisis, we collected used substrate slabs in Europe, which we then granulated and reused again for 98 percent, including as a raw material for bricks.” Grodan shipped a large part of that granulate to England. “Think of enormous shiploads. However, three of our four shipments scheduled for 2020 were canceled. The good news is that the system has been up and running again since December. Many thanks to all the colleagues and suppliers who helped to realize this. Due to these efforts they avoided an emergency: my compliments.”

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                            Tom Vitters, Manager Recycling Europe and Export Markets at Grodan

Research in plastic recycling

Vitters also talks proudly about how Grodan, as a producer, takes responsibility in the field of plastic recycling. Vitters: “For example, we are investigating options for recycling the plastic films around our growing media. This means you no longer use fossil fuel as oil in production, but sugars instead, for example. Although these developments are still in their infancy, we already achieved some milestones in the past year."

Also Russia is joining in

He is also proud of the fact that superpower Russia is joining in the recycling efforts. Vitters: “The fact that we now also recycle substrate products in our brick factory in St. Petersburg is a really huge step forward. In fact, recycling is so successful that we are negotiating with a Russian corporation that is looking for solutions for the mountain of waste that is emerging in the extremely fast-growing market Moscow. Grodan asked us to think about a solution. Very exciting."

Bonus: the power of data

And if Vitters does unveil the tip of the iceberg, then this 'next step' for Grodan should not be missed: the development of its international dashboard for all waste streams throughout Europe. Vitters: "We want to have an overview of all these flows at any time of the day." He knows from experience that this is difficult to realize, but not impossible. Vitters previously developed a take-back system for a waste processing company in Germany. “That system was also live, so with data that can be consulted at any time of the day. Ideal."