Ghost(net)buster in the Netherlands

If the Vice-President of the European Commission and Chief Officer for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, is part of an opening ceremony, you know in advance that something important is being created here. That’s once again true this time. With commissioning of the Healix recycling center in Maastricht, the Netherlands, founder Marcel Alberts has declared war on so-called Ghost Nets. These are left-over, floating fishing nets and ropes that pollute the world’s oceans – which are unfortunately all too familiar from the unforgettable photos of sea turtles or other sea creatures caught up in them. Using state-of-the-art technology for plastics recycling, the aim is to turn this linear waste into a product on site and create a circular economy. At the forefront of the process chain is a WEIMA W5.22 single-shaft shredder with hydraulic drive.

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Ghost nets shredding with a WEIMA W5.22 single-shaft shredder in Maastricht

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The vision

But first we’ll jump back to 2020, the year that Healix was founded. The visionary Marcel Alberts was increasingly aware of the marine plastic problem and decided to do something about it. As he later quotes himself at the opening, it is time to "Stop talking, start doing." The smart entrepreneur from Maastricht previously gained two decades of valuable experience in the fiber and textile industry, which he can use to his advantage for his project that is very close to his heart.

portrait photo of marcel alberts from healix

Healix founder Marcel Alberts

Healix logo in production hall wall

Healix logo

About Healix

01
2020
founded
02
W5
Shredder
03
6k
to/yr
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Plastic problem: ghost nets

His idea is both simple and ambitious: Collecting discarded and broken nets, ropes and cords from fishing and farming to recycle them. Unfortunately, there are more than enough of them. Healix states that ghost nets account for at least 30 percent of the great pacific garbage patch. That's the size of France – times three.

fishing nets floating in ocean

Floating pile of ghost nets

turtle wrapped in fishing nets on a boat

Danger for marine wildlife: ghost nets

ghost nets on ocean sea ground

Ghost nets pollute our oceans

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Recycled fiber products

Abandoned plastic fibers, mostly PP and HDPE, procured from national collection centers are used to create something new. The plastic waste includes fishing nets, packaging products such as big bags, ropes, particularly tear-resistant yarn and other fiber-based materials from the agricultural industry.

turquoise fishing net on white background

New fishing net

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High-throughput size reduction technology from WEIMA

Healix relies on state-of-the-art recycling technology to ensure that the closed loop and production of rPP and rHDPE granulate works perfectly. In the brand new production halls, a WEIMA W5.22 single-shaft shredder with a working width of 2,200 mm is used for the first step of shredding. It is equipped with a powerful hydraulic drive from Hägglunds Bosch Rexroth. The steel colossus, which weighs just under 12 tonnes, also has a generous maintenance access that makes getting to the interior of the rotor easy. Alberts remembers:

WEIMA shredder at Healix opening ceremony

Healix opening with Frans Timmermans

WEIMA W5.22 plastic shredder with hydraulic drive

WEIMA W5.22 single-shaft shredder at Healix opening

Healix opening day with WEIMA shredder and conveying system

WEIMA shredder with conveyor belts and Healix

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"When I was researching suitable shredders on the internet, I quickly became aware of WEIMA and also saw videos about the size reduction of nets and big bags. At the same time, I asked around within my network. What can I say? WEIMA simply has an excellent reputation in the industry. That’s why I contacted WEIMA in Germany."

– Marcel Alberts, CEO and founder of Healix

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The project was further advanced in cooperation with WEIMA Sales Director Patrick Henzler. Alberts opted for the W5.22 and today draws a positive conclusion:

Ghost nets | ropes recycling loop

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"It all starts with the shredder. If it isn't robust and reliable, all the subsequent production steps suffer. We run the WEIMA shredder continuously over three shifts. The result is ideal for subsequent washing, drying and extrusion. Precise cut length and uniform pieces are very important to us. I believe we made the right decision with the WEIMA shredder."

– Marcel Alberts, CEO and founder of Healix

Not even two years passed from the original idea to commissioning of the recycling center. According to Healix, the investment amount was around ten million EUR. A true flagship start-up that even Frans Timmermans became aware of in his role as Green Deal Climate Commissioner. He therefore attended the opening as a special guest.

Albert’s goal of annually transforming up to 6,000 tonnes of marine plastic into regranulate with Healix is also a signal towards the rest of the economy and society. With a great deal of courage, commitment and the right technology partners, we have come a little closer to the dream of a circular economy and a climate-neutral continent.

Contact

WEIMA Maschinenbau GmbH

Bustadt 6-10

74360 Ilsfeld

Contact

Additional Information

About WEIMA

More than 40,000 machines sold worldwide! WEIMA has been manufacturing robust shredders and briquetting presses for the disposal and processing of all types of waste for more than four decades. Our machines include single-shaft shredders, four-shaft shredders, cutting mills and briquette presses. The popular blood orange machines are used in the wood, plastics, paper, metal and waste-to-energy industries.

Made in Germany. Built for the world.

Shredders and briquette presses from WEIMA are exclusively made in Germany and come from production plants in Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Wuerttemberg. Every year, more than 300 employees work on around 1,200 customer solutions from around the globe. We have long-standing sales and service locations in the USA, Poland, India and China. More than 80 representatives supplement this global presence.

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