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Netherlands ahead of the game in asphalt recycling

The Netherlands – Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch Minister of Economic Relations, Agriculture and Innovation, attended the launch of an asphalt processing machine that offers the long-sought opportunity to recycle almost 100% of the problematic road-building material.

The recycling drum, worth EUR 460 000 (US$ 589 000), operates using the new Hera system developed by Dutch construction company VolkerWessels in collaboration with a Swiss partner, Ammann. In installing the Hera drum at its Rotterdam-based asphalt centre, VolkerWessels is now the first company in the world with access to the new recycling solution, which involves indirect heating rather than the customary direct heating of the material.

Dubbing it a ‘€˜unique find for the market’€™, VolkerWessels CEO Gerard van de Aast said the technology was the result of many years of research. ‘€˜With this system, the industry will be able to recycle up to five times more asphalt than before. It will also be of a higher quality and last longer.’€™

The company claims that a minimum of 80% of old asphalt can be recycled using Hera technology, and in less critical cases as much as 100%. The total cost of installing the system is put at around EUR 4.5 million (or US$ 5.7 million).

At the inauguration ceremony at the VolkerWessels facility in Rotterdam, Minister Verhagen noted that the company had been ‘€˜setting itself apart for years’€™, due to its focus on energy consumption and sustainability. With requests for the equipment flowing in from multiple international markets, Mr Van de Aast remarked: ‘€˜This is quite something to be proud of. It displays our power for innovation.’€™

VolkerWessels says innovation is essential to Dutch industry, stating: ‘€˜We have only limited access to resources and depend largely on imports. This is what first spurred the tradition of ensuring sustainability and working towards reuse.’€™

An estimated 8 to 10 million tonnes of asphalt is produced in The Netherlands every year, about a third of it at the 15 sites the company owns.

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