Room to Grow

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Recyclers who gathered for two Middle East recycling conferences learned there are plenty of growth opportunities in the region.

May 6, 2013
Brian Taylor
Top: presenter Atul Kaul of WARAQ Arab Paper Manufacturing at the Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East

Nearly 400 recycling industry professionals who gathered for back-to-back conferences in Dubai in March heard firsthand accounts of opportunities and challenges inherent in the Middle East region.

March 3-7, the 2013 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East and the Middle East Metals Recycling Conference were held at the Hyatt Regency Dubai.

Both events were organized and co-hosted by the Recycling Today Media Group and Waste & Recycling Middle East magazine. They also were supported by corporations and industry associations in the region, including the Bureau of Middle East Recyclers (BMR), Sharif Metals Group, WARAQ Arab Paper Manufacturing Co., Gemini Corp., the Lucky Group, AnM Group, America Chung Nam, The Environment Exchange and WASCO (Waste Collection & Recycling Co. Ltd.).

The conferences yielded a bounty of information and considerable opportunities for attendees to strengthen existing trading relationships and create new ones.

Demonstrating Resilience

The word “emerging” is not often attached to the paper industry in the developed world, but delegates at the 2013 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East learned there are still paper-related growth opportunities in that part of the world.

At the “Resilient Fibre” plenary session, moderator Atul Kaul, director of pulp and paper at WARAQ Arab Paper Manufacturing Co., based in Saudi Arabia, said the region’s recycling rate was only 30 percent.

Presenter Richard Ellis, manager of operations at Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. (SPMC), Damman, Saudi Arabia, said paper makers in Saudi Arabia face many challenges, including procuring recovered fiber, dealing with protectionist trade laws and treaties, securing adequate utility services, making adequate port arrangements and bringing in talented and knowledgeable technicians from vendor companies.

Nonetheless, Ellis said Saudi Paper has collected some 450,000 metric tons of recovered fiber, including 200,000 tons of old corrugated containers (OCC), 150,000 tons of office paper and 100,000 tons of old newspapers (ONP).

The tissue products manufacturer is engaging in increasing its annual production capacity from 125,000 tons per year to 185,000 tons, Ellis said.

Obeikan Paper Industries Co., a packaging paper manufacturing firm based in Saudi Arabia, is expanding and will soon produce 250,000 tons per year of duplex board at its mill in Riyadh, the company’s Mohammed Ahmed Al-Mowkley said.

Both Ellis and Al-Mowkley noted that fiber generated within the Middle East can contain significant amounts of sand and dust. While this harms yield, Al-Mowkley said “technology selection” at the screening and pulping stage can render this scrap paper usable.

Technology selection also can “maximize our flexibility,” said Al-Mowkley, meaning Obeikan can use brown grades, white grades or mixed paper as feedstock.

PK Mukundan of the Indian Agro & Recycled Paper Mills Association, said his Delhi-based organization represents “75 percent of Indian paper production.”

He said the Indian paper industry consists of some 850 paper mills consuming some 12.5 million metric tons per year of recovered fiber. Currently, recycled-content market share is 49 percent of India’s paper production, up from 30 percent in 2000, according to Mukundan.

Strong Ferrous Future

Turkey enjoys a reputation as the world’s largest importer of ferrous scrap, but the nation’s steelmakers are likely to face competition for the secondary commodity.

At the session on ferrous scrap at the Middle East Metals Recycling Conference, Serhat Babac of Turkey-based information company SteelOrbis said the nation’s steel mills, which provide the beams and shapes that form the spine of a major building boom in the Persian Gulf region, make up the largest single import market for ferrous scrap leaving other nations. Speaking at the conference session “Steel’s Sustainable Future,” Babac said mills in Turkey likely will continue to need scrap from North America in 2013. In part, scrap sent from North America is making up for the diminishing amounts leaving the former Soviet Union (where scrap exports are tightly controlled) and the European Union, whose economy is generating scrap at even lower levels than North America’s.

Babac reported that as likely, especially since SteelOrbis foresees that the Black Sea region “will decline even more” as a scrap source, owing to a combination of a depleted scrap reservoir and export tariffs that will tighten supplies from Russia and its neighbors.

Presenter Scott Newell of The Shredder Co. LLC, Canutillo, Texas, noted that 30 auto shredders now are installed in China and predicted that in a few years the number of shredders there will reach 100.

The shredder increase, he noted, is indicative of a larger stream of end-of-life cars and appliances that not only will produce ferrous scrap but also additional nonferrous flows.

Newell also provided results of a test The Shredder Co. was part of at an electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill in Ecuador. Results from that test found that by using 80 percent ferrous shred, the mill was able to reduce its “tap-to-tap” production time from 67 minutes to 40 minutes.

This gain in production speed turned the mill from a 14,000-tons-per-month mill into a 26,000-tons-per-month mill while also decreasing power usage at the EAF mill. “The use of shredded scrap has saved $35 to $40 per ton in power, electrodes and [melting] additives,” says Newell.

Newell predicted that results like these will help convince some steelmakers that the EAF process fed with ferrous shred is a viable way to compete in the future.


The author is editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at