Economical policy on raw materials
Clay is a natural and virtually inexhaustible resource. That does not mean that we should not use it sparingly.
To reduce the utilization rate of clay quarries and limit reclamation areas, we also use raw materials that are released during infrastructure and construction projects. This also helps prevent soil surpluses.
After finishing our operations, it is a point of honour for us to return the excavated areas to the farmers who let us use their land. Areas where we mined clay and exhausted clay pits, we revert back to fertile farming land.
Environmentally-friendly production process
In all branches of Vandersanden we strive for continuous improvement of our energy efficiency and a reduction of our energy consumption. To this end all employees are informed about our agreed and implemented policy resolutions concerning energy savings. We regularly update our energy savings plan (ESP) and we are committed to realizing this plan. In the same vein we comply with all legislation, regulations and other specified requirements.
Vandersanden is a member of the Limburgs Klimaatparlement (Limburg Climate Parliament), a group of organizations in Limburg (Belgium) that can play a significant role in the containment of CO2 emissions and who are willing to contribute actively to making 'Limburg climate neutral by 2020'.
At a Flemish level, Vandersanden participates in the Do-Tank ETS companies of the Cleantech Platform. ETS companies (EU Emissions Trading System) are companies that are responsible for a large share of the CO2 emissions. This means they fall under the European system of trading in emission rights. The Do-Tank ETS companies is looking for solutions that offer economic and ecological added value.
Only natural raw materials
Vandersanden bricks are made up of a combination of natural elements, i.e. clay, sand, water, air and fire. Synthetic products or chemical treatment techniques are not used in any way.
The baking process takes place in energy-efficient, computer-controlled gas-fired tunnel kilns. We recover the hot air from the kilns with the latest control technologies to efficiently utilize it to dry the bricks.
In 1996 a combined heat and power plant was installed, which is responsible for 50% of the required power in the factories in Spouwen and Lanklaar. A combined heat and power plant is a 16-cylinder gas engine which is coupled to an alternator. This engine produces electricity.
The hot air that is released dries the bricks in the drying chambers and heats the workshops. This means there is virtually no energy loss. The CHP plant can also keep the kilns and drying chambers running should there be a power cut in the main cabin.
Since 1 October 2011 the solar panels on the factories in Spouwen and Lanklaar contribute to more renewable energy. All solar panels together account for an annual green power production of 360 MWh. Thus we generate more of our own power to contribute to a better environment with reduced CO2 emissions.
A GoO certificate (GoO = Guarantee of Origin) guarantees that the additional electricity we purchase comes from wind energy, hydro or solar power.
Very little waste
Each kilogram of raw material is converted into a kilo of bricks. The brick production efficiency is 100%, and the waste flow is 0. The used ground water circulates in a closed circuit, so not a single litre of industrial waste water is drained away. The only waste is the limited waste from the packaging.
The green character of the rural environment is retained as much as possible around the factories and warehouses by creating green buffers. To a large extent this helps to keep the factories out of sight.
Purified air emissions
Air quality is given extra attention. The energy-efficient tunnel kilns work on clean and environmentally-friendly natural gas. Flue gas filters clean the released combustion gases. The achieved air emissions are far below the stringent standards.
Unique rail system
An overground rail system in Spouwen ensures optimum efficiency in loading and unloading the packages of bricks. The rail system transports the packages of bricks from the factory to the correct warehouse. This reduces the fork-lift truck traffic, which also reduces noise and exhaust fumes.
Recycling of packaging
Recycling of plastic from packaging: Clean Site System
Bricks are packaged in very thin plastic film (polyethylene) to hold the stones together and avoid accidents during transport and on site. The total of packaging material for bricks is less than 1% of the weight per package of stones. Thus, although it is a limited amount, we are committed to collecting and recycling the plastic packaging. The project Clean Site System in Belgium supplies contractors with appropriate collection bags on their construction sites. The bags are collected and recycled.
Recycling of pallets: VAL-I-PAC
Bricks are stacked onto pallets of 100% untreated wood. As a member of VAL-I-PAC Belgium, we also make sure that the pallets are recycled via a recovery circuit.