Hotspot for the circular economy
The 88 ha former General Motors site, equivalent to 110 football pitches, is currently being transformed into a new hotspot for the circular economy: NextGen District. This is the new name for the former Churchill Industrial Zone, one of the last remaining available large sites in the port which, thanks to its favourable location close to Europe’s largest chemical cluster, offers various opportunities. Port of Antwerp consciously opted to set aside this large area for the circular economy, thereby taking a further step in the transition to a sustainable and climate neutral society. It will also provide opportunities to mayor players and start-ups. NextGen District will be an industrial site where ‘end-of-life products’ will be given a second or third life, circular carbon solutions will be researched, and experiments will be conducted with renewable energy. The district incorporates a testing ground where start-ups are given the space to grow further, as well as free-standing plots of various sizes aimed at chemical and industrial players. In order to develop the site as sustainably and optimally as possible, it is currently being examined which services and facilities can be organised collectively.
For the development of the site, NextGen District is looking for players who want to give a boost to the circular economy. Port of Antwerp is therefore launching a new international market consultation to find investors for the site. This specifically concerns candidates with core activities within the circular processing industry (primarily chemical processes) and the manufacturing industry, with an interest in the energy transition.
In order to effectively realise the sustainable ambitions for the development of NextGen District, candidates will also be assessed on the forward-looking nature of their project, i.e. its innovative value, climate impact and agility. Certain conditions will also be added to the concession agreement of the selected candidates.
Transition to a climate-neutral society
The NextGen District falls within the sustainable ambition of Port of Antwerp, where the energy transition and the transition to a circular economy is at the top of the list of priorities. Together with industry, efforts will be made to reduce CO2 emissions and the transition to alternative energy sources through ambitious transition projects, such as generating renewable energy, using residual heat, and importing, storing and converting hydrogen into sustainable building blocks for the chemical sector.
“If the corona crisis has made one thing clear to us, it is that we only have one choice and that is to build a resilient and sustainable port,” explains Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp. “That is why Port of Antwerp wants to continue to play a pioneering role in the transition to a climate-neutral society. The energy transition and the circular economy were at the top of the agenda before the pandemic, and still are today. Port of Antwerp is home to the largest integrated cluster in Europe. We intend to strengthen, anchor and support this cluster in the transition to a carbon-neutral and circular economy. The goal is for NextGen District to become a hub for innovation and cross-fertilization in the circular economy, giving a boost to the new generation”.
Port alderwoman Annick De Ridder concludes: “With the NextGen District, we are aiming to create numerous new jobs that will further contribute to the sustainable growth of our port. For us, it is essential that new concession holders share and uphold our future and sustainability ambition. This will help strengthen, synergise and diversify the port platform. Moreover, this is the ideal location to accelerate the transition in the Antwerp chemical cluster. As such, we are continuing to focus on the added value of the future and therefore also on our prosperity”.