An important challenge for companies dealing with return flows and waste streams is the management of these material flows in relation to different valorization options. To achieve the best possible utilization of the materials, especially the uncertainties in the supply of return flows and waste streams leads to challenges in material handling: often the moment of supply is hard to predict, which is also the case for the quantity and quality of these material flows. Matching these incoming material flows with the right valorization opportunities is then also the key in reaching efficient and effective internal logistics. What to do with materials might very much depend on the time of arrival and the available quantity. Especially for bio-based materials, the quality of the material also complicates the valorization process, as the quality is not only hard to predict, it is often also changing over time, adding time pressure to the valorization process.
At Wageningen University, the aim is therefore to develop decision support for the management of the valorization process of return flows and waste streams. Here, decision support takes the form of models and tools that help decide which materials to use for which valorization options. Due to the mentioned uncertainties in timing, quantity, and quality, this is a complex and dynamic decision process, which would benefit from (1) a structured method to match material supply with material demands, and (2) the development of a decision support system to decide what optimal valorization strategies are. Our work aims to develop general knowledge on how to deal with the challenges that are mentioned, as well as provide useful practical insights that can be used to improve the valorization potential of bio-based materials.