It is forecast that global container transport will double over the next 15 years, largely on the back of 10%-plus annual increases in trade flows from Asia to both North America and Europe. For recyclers, seaports represent an entrance point to the global production industry, observes Mr Schoenmakers. They provide an essential transshipment hub manned by specialists, therefore allowing recyclers to focus on their own core business operations. ‘The Port of Rotterdam offers guaranteed quality of shipment and easy access to markets at a time of growing global demand for recyclables,’ he says. ‘In addition, for safety reasons we have installed very advanced radiation detection systems at all our container terminals which scan both incoming and outgoing containers.’
Recyclers help to cut huge container imbalance
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is housed in an office building with probably the most stunning view over Rotterdam. From the top floor, visitors have a breathtaking view on the many barges which are travelling along the busy river, the Erasmus bridge and the skyline of Europe’s main port. Speaking about the importance of ports and harbours to the recycling industry, Victor Schoenmakers, at the Port of Rotterdam responsible for European policy affairs, states that the port has become recognised as ‘the hub for recyclables in north-west Europe’. He confirms that around 6 million tonnes of recyclables are trans-shipped at the Port of Rotterdam each year - equivalent to around 4% of the facility’s dry bulk and container traffic. The total includes around 2 million tonnes of recovered paper and a similar volume of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap, as well as 1 million tonnes of stainless steel scrap and, in addition, approximately 500 000 tonnes of plastics, textiles, tyres and refuse-derived fuel (RDF).