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Lucy Chard
13 Dec 2022

CPHI Pharma Award Winners 2022: Sustainability – Indaver

Birgit Isabelle Skuballa, Head of HSE Audit & Supplier Management at Bayer (right) and Wouter Van Zundert, Product Owner Inda-MP (left)

In this series of interviews, we speak to the teams behind the winning concepts at CPHI Pharma Awards 2022, in each of the different categories, from digital innovation to CEO of the year. 

The winner of the category for Sustainability this year was Indaver nv, with their facility for recovering precious metals from liquid waste, Inda-MP. 

Firstly, can you tell us a little more about Indaver and your key priorities for the year ahead?

Indaver’s mission is to offer sustainable waste solutions with a main focus on material and energy recovery.

Our priorities for the year ahead are to keep delivering sustainable solutions to our customers in a challenging world on the one hand, and to continue developing new installations to support the circular economy on the other hand. 

This year, you won the CPHI Pharma Awards for Sustainability, can you tell us more about the winning product?

Indaver won the award for its Inda-MP facility, which is located at its site in Antwerp (Belgium). Inda-MP recovers precious metals from liquids. A large part of these liquids originate from the use of homogeneous precious metal catalysts.

Homogeneous precious metal catalysts are increasingly used in API and fine chemical production, for example in Palladium-catalysed cross-coupling reactions. After the production process the homogeneous catalyst ends up (partially) in liquid waste. This creates new market needs regarding the recovery of precious metals from complex and hazardous liquids. Precious metals are scarce and very valuable raw materials, it is crucial to push recovery rates to the maximum.

5 years ago Indaver was contacted by two of its main pharmaceutical customers who had a new API production process that used a homogeneous Palladium catalyst. This catalyst ended up in the waste mother liquor. As the main environmental partner, Indaver investigated the case and decided to develop new solutions to address this need.

The Inda-MP solutions offer full relief to customers so they can focus on their production. To realise this, Inda-MP offers a 1-stop solution throughout Europe, starting from the logistics of the liquids until delivery of the refined precious metal. Multiple installations and technologies enable a solution for a wide range of liquids. We even take care of the TFS notifications, required for the export of hazardous waste.

Sustainability is a big buzz word for the pharma industry now - how does Indaver define sustainability, and what is your approach?

Indaver’s focus lies on sustainable waste management and contributing to a Circular Economy. 'Circular,' which refers to sustainable and ecological, and "economy” to creation of value. The latter has always been the engine of progress. Therefore, ecology and economy should not be mutually exclusive, or enemies of each other. You simply cannot invest in ecology if your economy is not running.

To put its focus into practice, Indaver recovers as many materials and as much energy as possible from waste streams in a sustainable manner. This is necessary, because today, we all use far more raw materials than the earth can produce, and this cannot be sustained in the long run.

What do you think is needed from the pharma industry as a whole to become a more sustainable industry?

The pharmaceutical industry has set ambitious climate goals. Cross-industry partnerships can contribute to achieve those goals. The development of Inda-MP is a great illustration of the impact of genuine partnerships between the pharmaceutical and environmental industry. They can lead to real advances in sustainability and the circular economy.

How will this product/technology/work benefit the pharma industry over the coming years?

We observe an increased use of homogenous precious metal catalysts for the production of API’s and fine chemicals. Without adequate recovery solutions this would lead to an increased consumption of primary precious metals and related increases in carbon footprint and security of supply risks. 

Thanks to the Inda-MP recovery solutions, companies not only generate large revenues from the recovery of precious metals but also avoid geopolitical supply risks. For example, Russia is the largest producer of primary Palladium. 

Another important aspect is the carbon dioxide emissions related to the mining of precious metals. Using precious metals from secondary sources significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the final API or fine chemical product. 

What does winning the award mean to you and what will it do for you as a company?

Winning the award clearly gives a moral boost to the company. It is a great recognition for all the people who were involved in the development of Inda-MP. 

Part of the production team with the well-deserved award 

Furthermore, we hope that it will lead to a greater awareness in the pharmaceutical industry about homogeneous catalyst recovery solutions and that these can be implemented without complex set-ups or impact on production.

You’ve set the bar high with this product, can we expect to keep seeing more innovative work from you in the future?

The next step for Inda-MP will be to get our second process line up and running in 2023 to further expand our capabilities and treat a wider range of liquids. 

The Indaver group has many projects in the pipeline but especially “Plastics2Chemicals” (P2C) will be an important one. In 2024 Indaver will open a 26,000 tonne/year demo plant in Antwerp. The installation will transform, via chemical recycling, waste plastics into base chemicals, which will then be used to make new products.  

Furthermore, Indaver is also increasing its activities in solvent recycling. We recently acquired BIP, a solvent recycling plant in the UK, which we will further expand in the coming years. We are also developing dedicated recycling facilities, which return GMP-compliant solvents according to the quality specs of the pharmaceutical industry.  

If you're interested in contacting Indaver regarding their winning facility, email Florence Luyten, Account Manager Inda-MP. 

To see what the other teams have to say about their award winning work, see here. 

Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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