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Pioneer Frank Laarakker swears by Bio-Based Economy:

Netherlands: “We leave too much energy just lying in the field”

Grower Frank Laarakker is one of the people in the industry that swears by Bio-Based economy. As producer of a wide range of produce destined for the processing industry, he was always looking for alternate ways to handle the disposal of waste. His motto: don’t let waste go to waste.

“We have found a way to ferment compost without residues: thermic fermentation. This allows us to convert every little bit into energy.”

The EcoFuels installation ferments the compost at 53 degrees. Residues are cleansed through a complex water treatment plant. Laarakker is the only one with such a contraption. “The biogas produced here fuels the WKK,’s. These are the engines that raise the electricity to supply 6500 households.”

Laarakker stresses that this procedure must be applied on a large scale to make it really profitable. “That is why we pitched the idea to our customers, the growers. They give us their waste, we provide them with energy.” The venture was by no means easy. “It took us an enormous amount of money, time and resources, but we did it. We kept believing in it. It finally took the collaboration of our customers to make it work: they are able to provide us with a constant stream of fuel.”

It’s Laarakker’s dream that in time, the entire industry will become part of the sustainable cycle. “We leave too much energy just lying in the field,” he says. “We should learn to reinvest the by-products of our waste instead of just throwing them aside. That is just a waste!”

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