Antwerp: A Preview Of The ISWA Congress 2015

The ISWA Congress takes place in September in Antwerp, Belgium, but some members of the CIWM ISWA Group were fortunate enough to visit earlier in the year for a “heads-up” on what the Congress would cover. Jeff Cooper and Adam Read compiled a preview to whet your appetites…

Reports on ISWA Congresses are normally generated after the event has taken place, but a few months ago several members of the CIWM ISWA Group were invited to Antwerp to see what the Congress host organising committee would be showcasing to the world in September 2015.

Antwerp is the capital of the Flanders region of Belgium, which has an exemplary record of resource recovery and waste prevention, with over 70% recycling of its household waste so there will be many lessons that can be learnt from its experience. Nevertheless, the organisers of the Congress are very keen to share the expertise of others in order that they can further develop their resource management policies and practices.

The Congress programme is still being prepared so we focussed on the study tour options that will be available. However, we found out that there will be a significant number of high-level visitors to this event, including the Vice-President of the World Bank Committee on Climate Change as a keynote speaker. UNEP will also be introducing their Global Waste Management Outlook report. The GWMO is currently in preparation with the UK’s Professor David Wilson in charge of the research team.

Just a Landfill?

The Hooge Maey landfill facility is the largest in Flanders at 100ha. It is actually a land-raise facility blessed with a 2m thickness of underlying clay and is now the highest landform feature in the Antwerp area. The site is a waste treatment and processing facility with a number of high quality features, such as:

  • landfill gas capture with 2.8MW electricity generation
  • leachate treatment and waste water from external sources, including by anaerobic digestion
  • solar panels and wind electricity generation on site
  • algae production facility using CO2 and heat from the site

The algae facility is an experimental pilot plant, 1ha of algae which can produce 10 tonnes of oil compared to one tonne from rapeseeds grown on the same area.

In addition to the normal study tour programme visit to the site, there will be a specialised landfill workshop which will include the closure and rehabilitation of dump sites; establishing sanitary landfills; landfill gas collection, treatment and utilisation; leachate management; the stabilisation of the Hooge Maey landfill; and a landfill tour.


ISVAG is the older and smaller of the two incineration plants that provide residual waste treatment for Antwerp and many other municipalities. The plant has 2 lines of 9 tonnes per hour giving an annual throughput of 134,000 tpa. It has been progressively ungraded to meet EU emissions standards after a very shaky start when it was shut down for 18 months in the mid-1990s. In the future it will have to further upgrade or be closed with potential options being supply of heat to either a residential estate or commercial complex to further improve its environmental credentials with 25,000 households provided with electricity from the plant.

We also had the opportunity to see the municipal waste company’s new underground waste storage system and the collection vehicles that remove the waste from the underground storage bins in which the waste is deposited from the ground level. The access is provided by special keys provided to local residents who can deposit paper, plastic and cans, organic wastes and residual wastes into separate containers. The waste collection vehicle is a specialised vehicle with a modest payload given the amount of specialist lifting equipment that is required to move the ground level material aside and then pull out the container to deposit it in the vehicle.

In addition to the Hooge Maey landfill and the ISVAG incineration plant, there are also technical visits to Indaver, a hazardous waste treatment facility with 2 rotary kilns and other options to treat healthcare waste and range of other hazardous wastes; Stora Enso, a Finnish based company with board recycling facility in Antwerp; and Port Antwerp, a huge petro chemical complex, second only to Houston in global terms and one of the world’s busiest port facilities.

The Congress organisers have generously offered free registration to the Congress for members of ISWA’s Young Professionals Group, a wonderful incentive for new entrants to the profession to participate in this import Congress to be held in the historic centre of Antwerp.

For further information visit


Darrel Moore

Send this to a friend