PreZero opens sorting plant for packaging in Europe - Recycling Today

2022-06-25 07:52:55 By : Ms. Alice Qin

The plant will provide 50 jobs and is expected to sort 120,000 tons of lightweight packaging.

PreZero, a recycling company based in Neckarsulm, Germany, has launched a sorting plant for lightweight packaging in Eitting, Bavaria. The company says up to 120,000 tons of lightweight packaging will be processed for recycling annually.

The plant, with a capital expenditure of about 40 million euros ($45,360,000), will provide 50 jobs. In the future, the plant can be in operation around the clock, 365 days a year.

The company says the technology being used in the sorting process can identify black plastics that are difficult to sort using conventional optical technology. Based on artificial intelligence, the fully automatic sorting plant will surpass the sorting quotas prescribed by law under the Packaging Act adopted in 2019. The Packaging Act expands packaging definitions, extends mandatory deposit for one-way drinks packaging and how companies identify single-use or multiple-use properties for final distributors of beverage containers.

The collected packaging material is sorted into a total of 18 different categories. This includes polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyethylene and polystyrene. The categories also can be sorted by color. 

“With the commissioning of the plant in Eitting, we’re expanding our existing network of high-performance lightweight packaging sorting systems, not just in terms of space, but also in terms of quantity,” says Carsten Dülfer, CEO of PreZero. ”With a total annual capacity of all our plants in Germany of around 600,000 tons, we’re establishing ourselves as part of the absolute frontrunners in this market segment.”

Overseas nonferrous scrap shipments have been delayed as bookings get rolled.

Domestic demand for red metal scrap remains healthy, and high prices and container shipping issues are making it difficult for export buyers to compete for material, some sources say.

An insulated copper and aluminum wire processor based in the Midwest says scrap generation remains steady as the economy continues to rebound from the pandemic-related recession in 2020. He says high scrap prices and consumer demand are factors contributing affecting scrap generation.

“There is a very high demand for copper and brass scrap,” he says. “With this high demand domestically, I do not see any problems selling or delivering material into foundries.”

The processor says he’s noticed demand for bare bright copper decline as its price has risen. “I think a lot of manufacturers are finding ways to avoid using this material because of its expensive price and the fact that the specifications are too difficult to adhere to,” he says. “It appears people would rather buy No. 2 copper scrap, and [they] appear to be able to be flexible with how they use their raw material to make their finished goods.”

Trucking remains a concern for scrap processors and consumers, the contact in the Midwest says. “Transportation availability is still extremely tight, and the prices are up about 30 percent to 70 percent on any given run.”

He adds that truck drivers are being “strangled” by the demand for goods. “I do not see this phenomenon ending for at least another six to nine months.”

While export demand is subdued, the processor says, export opportunities are available. Pricing is less of a consideration for overseas consumers than the ability to get a booking on a shipping line.

Scott Greenberg of Atlanta-area brokerage firm Greenland (America) Inc. says containership lines are “randomly rolling bookings without notifying folks oftentimes.” This leaves suppliers “between a rock and a hard place” as their containers incur detention fees at ports while they await the next booking, he says.

The degree to which shipments are delayed varies by route and commodity, Greenberg says. He notes shipments to Pakistan seem to experience significant delays compared with those to India.

“There is plenty of scrap in the marketplace,” Greenberg says, but its movement is being obstructed by logistics issues.

He says some U.S. processors are looking more intently at domestic markets because while trucking companies might “charge you an arm and a leg” to transport the material, a truck typically can be found to cover a lane. Finding a booking on a ship can be another story, however.

In the case of repeatedly rolled bookings, Greenberg says it creates a dynamic where the contract between the buyer and seller starts to get old, raising uncertainty about whether it will be honored. “The industry standard is 30 days. Is the contract still valid if it goes to 60 days?” he asks. “Everyone is going to do what is in their best interest if the market is heading down.

“The nonferrous scrap situation is driven by logistics challenges we are all facing; it’s less about supply and demand,” Greenberg adds.

Regulatory issues also are affecting the movement of material globally. Greenberg mentions that as of the third week of January he’s heard that nonferrous scrap importers in Malaysia are indicating that customs agents at some ports are not releasing inbound loads.

Two Asia-based traders also have relayed stories of several such incidents to Recycling Today Senior Editor Brian Taylor.

The Malaysian government enacted new scrap inspection and purity standards on or about Jan. 10. It spent much of 2021 preparing to modify and adopt a regimen proposed by government-connected inspection agency SIRIM.

A trader tells Taylor the container clearance delays are a concern, but Malaysian buyers have not yet signaled panic regarding the situation. However, they also don’t portray a clear understanding of whether some grades could prove more problematic than others in the new system.

Improve workplace safety and utilization with automated material handling solutions.

Amid times of workforce challenges, it is imperative for companies to adopt automated scrap recycling solutions that reduce manual labor and prioritize worker safety. As labor shortages persist, preventing injuries, maximizing operator utilization and promoting uptime will be essential to efficient and profitable processing. Adding or upgrading material handling equipment is an apt place to start. With that in mind, here are three ways automated material handling solutions help reduce workforce challenges.

Any recycling process that is completed more efficiently allows for valuable resources to be used in other areas of the operation. Conveyors, for example, are proven to raise productivity by up to 60 percent, according to data from Prab. Compared with manual transfer processes, they move metal scrap more quickly and consistently to help support continuous processing. Additionally, systems that automate load-out processes not only save time and labor, but they also optimize container fill. These systems can include automatic level sensors that provide visual alerts when the container is full, integral scales that verify containers are not exceeding road weight limits and automatic notifications sent directly to the scrap haulers when a pickup is necessary.

With approximately 250,000 people injured per year due to a fall in the workplace, it’s no surprise that Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require employers to have clean, dry floors. Large piles of metal scrap coated in cutting fluids put operators at risk for trips, slips and falls. Lifting heavy items and forklift accidents are other leading causes of workplace injuries.

Dumpers, conveyors and load-out systems that automate the transfer of metal scrap are shown to improve workplace safety up to 25 percent, according to Prab data. They promote ergonomic processing, reduce forklift traffic and help keep operators a safe distance away from shredding, crushing and melting equipment.

Preconditioning metal scrap to ensure downstream equipment can process the material can also prevent hazardous working conditions. For example, augers and steel belts sometimes fail to consistently move bushy bundles of metal scrap because they are unable to grab hold of stringy wads of material. Instead, the bundles bounce around the in-feed hopper—usually until an operator manually breaks them up or forces them up the conveyor. This practice is incredibly unsafe.

Additionally, when equipment isn’t performing optimally, employees may become frustrated and dissatisfied with their job. Adding equipment that tears stringy wads of chips, turnings and bundles apart prior to the auger or steel belt conveyor will help minimize the need for operator intervention altogether.

Labor shortages don’t only affect in-house staffing capabilities—they also impact third-party contractors, such as equipment technicians. Whether your operation enlists the services of a technician to perform preventive maintenance or mission-critical repairs, service may be delayed due to a lack of available resources. Fortunately, certain design features of material handling equipment can help prevent downtime related to maintenance, including:

Build quality: Heavy-duty, abrasion-resistant construction materials and high-quality welds are critical to meeting the high-volume demand typical of metal scrap recycling operations. Design features that provide reinforcement and/or reduce impact, such as special supports and belt-reinforcing impact plates, help extend a conveyor’s service life and maximize uptime.

Simplified maintenance: Belt maintenance and bearing lubrication are aspects of routine conveyor maintenance that can be minimized through automated solutions. Auto lube systems that automatically grease bearings improve bearing performance and eliminate maintenance required for manual greasing. To eliminate manual belt adjustments and the issues associated with stretched belts, an auto-take up system can be designed into the conveyor. This feature automatically monitors tension using load cells on chain conveyors and tightens the belt to eliminate manual adjustments and downtime. These systems can be added to new conveyors or retrofitted onto existing models. Automatic adjustments can be scheduled to be completed during low production times or shift changes.

Carryover prevention: Above all, avoid carryover that may damage conveyor equipment by utilizing a conveyor designed to provide a positive discharge of material. For instance, some scrap conveyors eliminate carryover by using a drag flight to pull material toward the discharge point. When the flights pivot out of the way, stuck materials dislodge from the machine.

It is projected that industrial operations will continue to face labor shortages as the workforce ages. Managing turnover is also a challenge. According to a report from Tooling U-SME, 43 percent of companies report an average of at least 20 percent annual turnover that costs them hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars annually.

Compensation and safe working conditions are table stakes. Today’s employees have higher aspirations for their work experiences. In a poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 41 percent of respondents indicated that prospective employees are looking for a positive work environment. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that good housekeeping in the workplace not only creates a cleaner, safer workplace, but also promotes positive behaviors, habits and attitudes. In this way, conveyors and other material handling solutions also can impact employees’ perceptions about their jobs. Improved housekeeping achieved through effective management of metal scrap helps make the working environment feel tidy and orderly, which can contribute to a more favorable view of work overall.

Mike Hook is the sales and marketing director for Prab and has more than 20 years of mechanical design and application experience. Prab is a leading supplier of engineered conveyors, equipment for processing stamping scrap, turnings, chips and spent metalworking fluids, as well as wastewater treatment solutions.

Company intends to convert recycled-content copper into foil at Nevada plant later this year.

Carson City, Nevada-based Redwood Materials says “in a matter of months” its copper anode foil facility at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Nevada will begin producing and delivering product to customers.

The company, in a Jan. 19 website post, says the plant will be complete and “supplying battery cell manufacturing partners with anode copper foil and cathode active materials” later in the first half of this year.

Last year, Redwood announced it would produce battery materials in the U.S. after receiving a $700 investment. “Over the next few years, Redwood will ramp copper foil production to 100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery demand, or 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles) of product annually,” states the firm. Redwood calls that “enough copper foil to build more than 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) per year or wrap copper foil around the entire world six times.”

The same site in Nevada will house hydrometallurgy recycling operations planned by Redwood, “which will allow us to feed copper from recycled lithium-ion batteries directly into copper foil production in a closed-loop,” states the company.

Redwood says initially its production of copper foil will outweigh its supply of copper recovered from battery recycling operations, so it also will source other domestic recycled copper. States the company, “Today, the U.S. exports several hundred thousand tons of copper [scrap] per year to Asia, so Redwood’s utilization of this secondary supply will ensure this critical metal stays in the U.S.”

In the first seven months of 2021, U.S. Census Bureau figures for the export of alloyed copper-bearing scrap show Malaysia brought in 58,800 metric tons of alloyed red metal scrap, followed by China, which brought in 26,900 metric tons of the material from the U.S. during those seven months.

In those same seven months, China brought in some 97,000 metric tons of unalloyed copper scrap from the U.S., followed by Malaysia which brought in about 54,000 metric tons of such material.

Overall, the Census Bureau says the U.S. exported some 520,000 metric tons of red metal scrap to Asia and buyers in other nations.

In the meantime, says Redwood Materials, “nearly all anode copper foil (and cathode) production globally happens in Asia.” That, says the firm, contributes “significantly to the environmental impact and cost of battery production.”

Panasonic will be the first company that expects to source Redwood’s copper foil, says the firm. “Our partnership with Panasonic began in 2019 and since, we’ve been recycling all Panasonic’s manufacturing scrap from the Tesla Gigafactory. That very same material will now be recycled, and the copper contained will be remanufactured into anode foil and returned to Panasonic at the Gigafactory, just a few miles down the road. This will mark the first time batteries will be recycled, remanufactured and then returned to the same factory in a fully closed loop.”

Redwood Materials says it expects to invest some $1 billion into its copper foil facility and expanded recycling operations. The company also says it is “still actively searching for another battery materials campus, focused on cathode production, which we plan to announce this year. At that site, we will spend upwards of $2 billion and scale cathode production to 500 GWh or [enough for] 5 million EVs by 2030.”

Nation’s foreign trade office exempts five nations and the EU from scrap metal preinspection process in two more port districts.

India’s Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will allow imports of scrap metal from six nations to 10 designated Indian ports without a Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate (PSIC). The PSIC-free procedure for shredded and unshredded ferrous and nonferrous scrap now applies to the Kazira and Kamarajar ports.

In a notice posted to the DGFT website Jan. 14, the agency adds those two ports to eight previous ones that have attained the non-PSIC status for scrap shipped from the United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and the United Kingdom

Scrap from those six nations and regions will continue to be subject to radiation detection checks and scans for explosives, the DGFT says.

The exemptions will not apply to trans-shipments that involved other nations before or after the cargo arrives in India.