Plastic has no place in our environment. Grain loss is almost unavoidable when trucks are loaded at the polymer factories. To prevent these small plastic granules from ending up in the environment, SABIC thoroughly cleans the loaded trucks before they leave the Chemelot site with a new blow-off installation. Sitech supplied for and will maintain the installation the upcoming years. The optimal construction and location were also considered.
Car wash for trucks
Rob van den Heuvel, Senior Manager Operations Product Handling & Logistics at SABIC: “Grain loss occurs when loading trucks at our polymer factories, which is almost unavoidable. Naturally, the grains that ended up on the ground were cleaned up, but grains remained on the truck ending up outside the Chemelot site. In the past, the trucks were blown clean with compressed air to prevent this. A labour-intensive and not very precise solution.” Together with service provider Sitech Services, SABIC was looking for a better solution. “We came across an installation that clears trucks of granules in all weather conditions. You can compare this blow-off installation with a car wash, but instead of water and soap it uses air to clean the trucks. When entering the installation, the truck first drives over a steel grid, so that remnants of granules fall out of the tires. When the truck comes out of the blow-off installation, it leaves the Chemelot site completely clean.
“In the upcoming years Sitech will supply and maintain the installation for SABIC. We also looked at the optimal construction and location for the installation, i.e. the square where the trucks leave Chemelot, a few hundred meters from the gate” Norbert Dubois, Manager Rotating Equipment Services Center
First positive results
Measurements at various locations show the first positive results; clearly fewer grains are found in the sieves, but also along the roadsides. For example, we see few granules in the effluent from the water purification plant (IAZI) of Chemelot and an overall decrease compared to the situation before the measures of Operation Clean Sweep. With regard to the new blow-off installation, it was estimated in advance that it could clear between 20 and 40 kilos of grains per day. In addition to the SABIC blow-off installation, filters have been installed, plus cover plates on the street gullies, the soil and verges have been cleaned up and training and inspection rounds have been intensified. In this way, 150 tons of plastic was collected in 2021 that can be reused to make new products, and 95,000 kg of sweeping waste was removed during the daily sweeping rounds, not only at the Chemelot site, but also outside it.
External parties such as the RUD (Regional Implementation Service) also share their findings with the intention of learning from each other and boosting activities to minimize plastic waste in nature and the environment, both on and around the site. Chemelot's facilitating role and increasing cooperation with companies outside the site should ensure that we maintain this level and together limit the loss of plastics to a minimum.
Part Operation Clean Sweep
Placing the blow-off installation seamlessly fits in with Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), in which all companies at the Chemelot site that produce, transport or process plastic participate. This international program aims to keep released plastic pellets, flakes and powder out of the environment. Rob van den Heuvel explains: “The clearing up of grains is part of SABIC's annual plans and the initiatives we are developing here can also be applied to other SABIC sites. For example, a sweeper drives on the site to sweep up grains. And five years ago, together with Sitech, we placed a large sieve in the rainwater drainage on Chemelot that goes to the IWWTP. We also placed sieves in clean water cisterns on all roads and squares on Chemelot on which silo cars drive. This prevents granules from ending up in the water.”