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15 | 12 | 2022

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Biodegradable plastic from potato residues. Rodenburg Biopolymers adds value to organic waste streams of potatoes, vegetables and fruit (residues) by making them into new raw materials. A development that earned them the Golden Circle today, an incentive prize from the province of North Brabant for pioneers in the circular economy.

“We are of course mega honored with winning the award,” responds Thijs Rodenburg, director and now third generation at Rodenburg Biopolymers. “It shows that the market is ready for our products. That was not always the case for a long time.” Those products Rodenburg refers to are sometimes visible like bioplastic crates on which a mussel bed in the Wadden Sea grows. And sometimes less visible like the raw materials for paper, wood and pet food industries. “Whatever the waste stream, we can always do something with it,” says Rodenburg.

We believe nature has given us innumerable opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered.

The bioplastic, consisting of tens of thousands of white balls, travels the world where it is then processed into an end product. Think of French fry trays, flower pots and packaging. When processing potato residues, a lot of starch is released. The starch residue released works well to lubricate a drill head. “In Saudi Arabia, they use this on drilling rigs in the oil industry. It’s a natural product with no chemicals,” says Rodenburg, who incidentally is noticing an overall shift in the market. “Governments buyers and consumers are now accepting a premium price because of the sustainable application. A positive development.”

A circular entrepreneur from the start

“A father-to-son company that is leading and future-proof should be cherished in Brabant. Basically, Rodenburg has been circular since 1945,” says Anne-Marie Spierings, deputy for Circular Economy Province of North Brabant, who presented the Golden Circle today. Spierings is referring here to founder Arie Rodenburg, who shortly after World War II collected potato peels from households, then processed them into cattle feed and grew into a major cattle feed company in the Benelux. “In the drive for innovation, keeping a refined eye on collaboration with other companies. I think that’s exactly what we need to make our economy circular.”

The province of North Brabant has a goal of using 50% less primary raw material by 2030. Therefore, they encourage flag bearers to explore what is possible in the circular field. One of these forms of encouragement is The Golden Circle.