CFK Recycling from Germany wins the Sustainable Industry Challenge 2020

CFK Recycling from Germany wins the Sustainable Industry Challenge 2020

CFK Recycling offers greatest impact on the region with its carbon-fibre recycling technology

After an exciting final battle in the boxing ring, the jury proclaimed CFK Recycling from Germany as the winner of the Sustainable Industry Challenge – Chemport Europe edition. This scale-up devised a method for recycling carbon fibres for the challenged posed by Teijin Aramid. CFK Recycling won €100,000 to spend on elaborating their innovation for this sustainability issue. Chairperson Emme Groot of Economic Board Groningen announced the winner and presented the prizes to the 5 finalists. During the two-day event , 40 scale-ups participated in the competition and met regional players with a view to possible future cooperation.

The finalists

The winner was announced at the New Year’s reception of Groningen Seaports in Delfzijl. After a battle against the British start-up Immaterial Labs, the jury declared CFK Recycling to be the convincing winner. CFK Recycling has developed a method for the sustainable recycling of carbon fibres. Carbon fibres are used frequently in aircraft and cars, whilst the vanes of wind turbines also contain large amounts of carbon fibre.
Edward Groen, Energy Transition & Sustainable Development Director of Teijin Aramid, is looking forward to cooperation with CFK Recycling. He said “This scale-up is far ahead when it comes to recycling carbon fibre. We will set up a small-scale pilot with them to recycle aramid.”

Emme Groot, Chairperson of Economic Board Groningen, was pleased with the success of the competition. “CFK Recycling has a special innovation for the challenge to make chemistry in the north of the Netherlands greener. A worthy winner of this first Sustainable Industry Challenge. It is also fantastic that we put the north of the Netherlands on the map together with our partners. Apart from the winner, there are various scale-ups that will be meeting northern companies. As far as we and our partners are concerned, this competition is definitely worth repeating.”

Recycling wind turbines

The five industrial companies, the challenge setters, each selected their finalist. For the Hydrogen theme, they were Immaterial Labs from Great Britain and ScandiNAOS from Sweden. For the Green Chemistry theme, they were Susteen Technologies from Germany and Bioextrax from Sweden. For the Recycling theme there was CFK Recycling from Germany. Having assessed the pitches from the five finalists, the independent jury selected the two finalists that would battle it out on stage just before the final showdown in the boxing ring. Tjeerd Jongsma, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology and Chairperson of the jury said “There were five strong finalists. We selected CFK Recycling as winner, because the innovation of this company has the greatest impact on our region. Recycling wind turbines, nobody else is able to do that!“

From more than 200 entries, 40 innovative companies (scale-ups) from 13 different countries were invited to the two-day final event of the Sustainable Industry Challenge, Chemport Europe edition in the north of the Netherlands. There were scale-ups from the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Spain, Latvia, Hong Kong, Belgium and Canada.

Impact on regional business

The most important underlying aim of the Sustainable Industry Challenge goes far beyond organising this competition. The organisation hopes that links will be forged between businesses in the region and more than 200 companies from all over the world who entered the competition; the first connections have been established with the 40 participants in this two-day event. The aim of the competition is to interest companies in our region, and to create a dynamic that has a positive impact on business in the Chemport Europe region.

Professional jury

The independent professional jury consisted of jury chairperson Tjeerd Jongsma PhD (Director of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT)), Aaldrik Haijer (Director of Water & Energy Solutions), Dr Katja Loos (Professor Faculty of Science and Engineering and Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, Groningen University), Nienke Homan (Member of the Groningen Provincial Executive) and Veronique de Bruijn PhD (CEO Photanol). In the end, the jury decided which of the five finalists, chosen by the challenge setters, the industrial companies, was the winner of the top prize.

About the Sustainable Industry Challenge

Economic Board Groningen is the initiator of the Sustainable Industry Challenge, Chemport Europe edition, from 2019-2020. The partners are the Campus Groningen, NOM, Groningen Seaports, and the provincial executives of Groningen and Drenthe. All the organisations are part of Chemport Europe, the ecosystem for a green chemical sector in the northern Netherlands. This major competition used challenges formulated by industrial companies to call on innovative companies to come up with specific innovations in the area of making recycling, hydrogen or green chemistry more sustainable. More information on the Sustainable Industry Challenge is available at

The winners of the Sustainable Industry Challenge (photo Martijn Scholten)