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Full description: Most of Vanderlande’s solutions at customer-operated sites contain conveyor belts, which, in a nutshell, are made of a fixed steel/aluminum structure, a motor, and a belt. The belts used in these conveyors have to be rough and the top layer needs a high friction coefficient to stop the transported items from sliding. At the same time, the belts – and the bottom layer in particular – should be soft enough to slide over a steel bed without much resistance. That is why our belts are primarily made from two materials that are difficult to separate: PVC on top, and polyester on the bottom, along with fire-resistant additives for safety reasons. These additives are hard to recycle. All belts and materials used are highly similar, but they can differ in terms of the textures applied to the belts, size, material and layer thickness, and the plasticizers used.
As a conveyor belt starts to reach the end of its lifespan, the PVC top layer loses its friction capacity. At the same time, the bottom layer starts generating friction, increasing the solution’s energy consumption. Belt thickness may differ across markets. Vanderlande sources conveyor belts from manufacturers worldwide, but all belts must meet similar requirements, with the average lifespan of a belt being between 2 and 5 years, depending on the application. Our belts last an average of 3 years. Currently, the belts are not returned to Vanderlande: customers dispose of them when they reach the end of their useful life. Every year, between 2,500 and 4,000 tons of belts are disposed of every year, including approximately 265 to 400 tons of Vanderlande belts.
There is currently no economic incentive for belt manufacturers to develop sustainable solutions. Although widely studied over the years, no technical innovation has yet been found for recycling or refurbishing traditional PVC/polyester belts. End-of-life belts are currently incinerated or sent to a landfill. Vanderlande’s customers bear the primary responsibility for disposing of the belts, but Vanderlande is eager to take its own responsibility and pro-actively search for more sustainable solutions, due in part to increasing zero-waste demands.
Forbo is Vanderlande’s main belt supplier. Belts from other suppliers for the same applications must comply with the same technical specifications. Tech specs of the most commonly used belts are available.
What are we looking for?
The objective of the challenge is to find a solution for end-of-life conveyor belts, either by finding an alternative end-of-life high-value application (re-use or upcycling), or by turning them into high-value materials.
Vanderlande has the following requirements:
Nice to have:
Out-of-the-box solutions are highly appreciated.
What are we NOT looking for?
Solutions Vanderlande would like to avoid are:
What’s in it for you?
Vanderlande has a long-standing relationship with all its clients. If the solution is viable, the participant can be assured of at least 10 years’ worth of business. Vanderlande has a presence in 18 countries, some of which have made circularity a higher priority than others. Furthermore, there are many other companies that use conveyor belts, including parent company Toyota Industries, which means that the market is much larger than Vanderlande alone.
Vanderlande is willing to host the participant in the Vanderlande Innovation Center in Veghel and collaborate on R&D. A pilot budget of at least EUR 10,000 will also be made available, depending on the TRL of the solution.
How can the SynchUp! challenge program benefit you?
The challenge program
SynchUp! is an initiative of REWIN West-Brabant. BOM, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Provence Noord-Brabant are involved as partners for the challenge program. Together we aim to provide innovative entrepreneurs and startups the possibility to create and develop their idea/product and to put this on the market. This supports the common goal: to accelerate innovations and transitions and strengthening the ecosystem.Your pitch (max 6 pages / 18 slides)
Describe your concept in as much detail as possible.
Please provide a brief description of what it will take to prototype and/or pilot and what you will need from us to do so.
Provide a brief description of the company and team that plans to work on the pilot.
There are no formal requirements for the pitch (presentations, slide decks & letters are all allowed), apart from the fact that it must be uploaded as a PDF file (A4, landscape or portrait) with a max. size of 30MB. Videos, example websites and so on can be included as links.
Contact / source: Turn end-of-life conveyor belts into high-value materials - SynchUp!
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