Refining means purifying and filtering. Our factories refine and process plant-based oils and fats which can then be used by food manufacturers as safe ingredients in foods. Our fats are used in a wide range of food products. They provide the snap in a cookie, determine how chocolate melts or stays hard, cook crispy, golden-brown fries, and give infant foods the energy that growing babies need. All these fats are different. In our factory in Wormerveer, we make more than 300 different oil and fat ingredients.
Refining is done at a high temperature. The oil is heated in a vacuum to remove impurities. This takes energy. In building our new factory, we are making efficient choices so that energy consumption and emissions are as low as possible. Sustainable decisions are central. We take economic, social and climate interests into account and believe that through this approach, we contribute to our economy, society and the environment in a sustainable way.
On this page, you will find information about how we are designing our new factory and what the consequences will be for our fellow Zaanstreek residents, employment and the climate. If you have questions, you can contact the project leaders at the bottom of the page.
Our two factories in Wormerveer and Rotterdam Maasvlakte are being combined into one new production facility in the Port of Amsterdam. It will be located in the Zaanstad harbor area, near the new prison. There are no people living in the harbor, which is a serious problem with our existing factory in Wormerveer: during the unloading of vessels, ship pumps make noise which can bother local residents. In addition, refining involves the removal of free fatty acids. Finally, the purified oils are transported to food manufacturers in trucks. These vehicles will travel from the harbor via the Zaandam Zuid access road which will relieve the Provincialeweg and the heavily populated residential areas between Koog and Wormerveer. The relocation is expected to improve enjoyment of the locality for many residents in the Zaanstad area.
Up to 40% less wastewater
Our factory needs both energy and water to refine fats. During production we are left with wastewater. Because we have over 100 years of fat processing knowledge we can organize the processes in our new factory in such a way that we will produce about 40% less wastewater. In addition, we are installing a new water purification system in which bacteria that feed on fatty acids will purify residual water in an organic way.
Up to 10% less waste materials
Bleaching earth is a natural filter we use to purify oil. This is very light clay with a fine structure that absorbs fatty acids in the oil. Due to the set-up of the refinery, production in the new factory will require 10% less bleaching earth.
40% less energy needed
Gas is currently the most important source of energy, but because dependence on gas is undesirable, we are making our new factory suitable for three different types of energy: gas, liquid biomass, electricity and hydrogen. This will be done by installing multi-boilers that allow us to switch between the different energy sources without interrupting production. And because we are building a brand new factory, we can attune the processes to one another in a way that achieves less heat loss and increased efficiency. Through better insulation of pipes and storage tanks (everything is 'inside'), different processes located next to one another in a smarter way, and the reuse of residual heat in various places, we will soon need 40% less energy than today. Furthermore, we will purchase green energy for the remainder.
Hydrogen ambition, 90% less CO2 emissions
As well as a standard gas connection, we are also installing heat pumps to recycle residual heat, solar panels to use sustainable energy, and together with other companies in the port area, we are exploring whether wind energy is an option. But our most impactful ambition is to derive our energy mainly from hydrogen as soon as possible. We have been invited to discussions held by the 'Fast-tracking Hydrogen Initiative Amsterdam North Sea Canal Area' and as soon as the so-called hydrogen backbone has been laid, we will be one of the first customers.
Our aim is to emit 90% less CO2 in 2030 than we do with our existing factories.
Less transport needed
In addition, combining two factories in one location will render transport between our factories in Wormerveer and Rotterdam no longer necessary; everything can be moved through pipes to another production process without having to be loaded, transported and unloaded. This will mean a big increase in efficiency.
Finally, a way to ensure that passers-by are less aware that we purify fat in our refinery. The free fatty acids released from the fats are not harmful to health. But because they have an unpleasant smell, we are installing special electrical filters in our new factory's vacuum boilers. These filters will neutralize and capture the fatty acids so that the smell is less noticeable outside the premises.
These figures will make our factory one of the cleanest factories of its kind!
The new factory will be a hyper-modern facility that can only function with good people. Staff currently working in Wormerveer will relocate to the new factory in the Port of Amsterdam. Colleagues currently working in Rotterdam Maasvlakte will be employed by our factory's new owner Neste who will produce renewable fuels at the facility.
The jobs in our factory are highly varied. We have receptionists, maintenance engineers and operators who keep the refinery working. We also have a laboratory and a test kitchen where quality specialists, inventors and product developers work.
The relocation of our factory, which has been built step by step over 100 years, is quite a project. The preparations (designs, permits and applications for utilities) began in 2021 and continued well into 2022 (things like ordering construction materials, boilers, tanks and pipelines). Construction will start in 2023 and take almost two years - if everything goes well; we regularly read news items about delayed projects. We hope to test-run the new systems at the end of 2024. Because fine-tuning a new factory is very complex, we think it will take at least six months to adjust the details and solve any teething problems. If all systems are running as they should, we will start transferring 'actual' production to the new factory and gradually phase out the systems in Wormerveer and Rotterdam. If all the systems in Wormerveer have been shut down by 2026, we will officially close the door behind us and the site will be sold for residential development. Then other parties will start demolishing the tanks and most of the buildings, the soil will eventually be cleaned and the municipality will start renovating the site.
Below the timeline which gives a rough indication of the schedule, you will see an animation of how the building will look. This is an impression, the details are not finalized.
A century ago, our factory in Wormerveer stood in meadows on the Zaan. To encourage local inhabitants to work in the factory, the Laan family (Bunge Loders Croklaan) built homes for their employees next to the factory. Over the course of time, the town expanded and filled the meadows with residential areas and today, the factory stands in a location which skirts the residential district around it. The current inhabitants of the old employee homes have no connection to the factory while they may still be bothered by the industrial processes.
As soon as our new factory in the Port of Amsterdam is in use, the existing commercial site will be sold. The municipality has decided to abolish its industrial purpose and to designate the area as a residential district with space for several hundred homes. According to the municipality's regulations, there will be a mixture of purchase and rental properties to accommodate all target groups. There will also be space for retail premises for small commercial operations. The municipality will design these plans together with developers and residents. To give an idea of the possibilities, a few sketches are shown here. In due course, more information will be published via the Zaanstad municipality.
Please note: This is only an impression of what is possible. It is not a definitive plan. Our company has no say in these plans.