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RTGE Staff October 30, 2013

METALS

Alba to Build Export Terminal in Amsterdam
The Germany-based recycling company The Alba Group has announced that it is building a new export terminal in Amsterdam. The company says the new terminal will strengthen its international business. The facility is expected to be operational by Jan. 1, 2014. To compensate for the opening of the new terminal, Alba Group says it has terminated its lease arrangement in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

The company says the new terminal offers Alba a range of advantages, including its size which, at 27,000 square metres, is five times the size of Alba’s Dordrecht terminal. The increased space will allow the company to store up to 200,000 tonnes of scrap metal on the site, and vessels with a capacity of up to 50,000 tonnes can operate out of the terminal. Alba says the location also is near an airport, highways and rail, making the site more readily accessible.

“The new terminal is part of our long-term overall strategy to strengthen our international orientation. From this point of view, the building and leasing is an important step,” says Axel Schweitzer, CEO of the Alba Group.

The new terminal follows the Alba Group’s sale of its Interseroh NRW GmbH steel and metal recycling subsidiary located in North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany, to TSR Recycling, also based in Germany.

“Against the background of the rapidly growing interest in ‘Recycling—Made in Germany’ abroad, we will align much more internationally and deepen our value chain,” Schweitzer adds.


PAPER

Norske Skog Idles Paper Machine
The European-based paper company Norske Skog has announced that it will temporarily idle one of its paper machines at its Walsum paper mill in Duisburg, Germany by the second half of December. The company did not say how long it would idle the machine.

Norske Skog cites excess capacity in the coated mechanical paper market as the reason for the shutdown. The machine has an annual capacity of 225,000 tonnes. The mill’s second machine, which produces lightweight coated magazine paper, will continue to operate at the site. That machine has an annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes.

The company says the temporary idling of capacity is needed to bring supply and demand into balance while avoiding unprofitable production at the mill. Sven Ombudstvedt, CEO and president of Norske Skog, says that despite years of great efforts of the staff to reduce costs, the decision unfortunately is unavoidable. The company adds that customers will be served from other Norske Skog mills and paper machines and that all existing supply commitments will be honored.


PLASTICS

Survey Finds Plastics Recycling in Europe Can Top 60% by 2020
Brussels-based Plastics Recyclers Europe has released a study that shows the continent can achieve a plastics recycling rate of 62% by 2020. The study also finds that a higher plastics recycling rate would create benefits for the European Union’s environment, economy and resource efficiency.

“This study, commissioned by Bio Intelligence Service, aims to put forward the most suitable scenario in order to further improve the sustainability of plastics via recycling in Europe in the period to 2020,” says Tom Emans, president of Plastics Recyclers Europe. “Enhancing plastics recycling will save scarce resources, create jobs and reduce environmental impacts.”

Emans notes that “the current plastics recycling situation is no longer acceptable.” He continues, “In the long run, economic growth, demographic changes and growing scarcity of raw materials will not allow Europe the luxury of wasting 76% of all plastic materials used. Urgent measures are needed in order to increase recycling rates for plastics. This study proposes crucial measures that should be taken in order to achieve this.”

The implementation of the Vision for Resource Efficiency will:

  • Efficiently use all plastic waste gener- ated by putting 11 million tonnes of plastics recyclables on the market;
  • Divert more than 24 million tonnes of plastic waste from landfill;
  • Recover energy from 7.5 million tonnes of residual waste;
  • Create 360,000 jobs (of which 120,000 will be with recyclers);
  • Save more than €4.5 billion (by sub- stitution for virgin plastics); and
  • Avoid emissions of more than 26 mil lion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The study is available on the Plastics Recyclers Europe’s website at www.plasticsrecyclers.eu.


METALS

SITA UK Sells Metal Recycling Yards to EMR
SITA UK has announced the sale of five of its metals recycling facilities in the United Kingdom to European Metal Recycling (EMR), based in Warrington in the UK. The decision follows SITA’s July 2013 announcement of a formal review of its metals recycling division.

The five facilities are in Boreham, Coventry, Lenwade, Norwich and Sheffield. With the sale of the facilities SITA UK no longer has any metals recycling facilities in the UK.

Several reports indicate that since acquiring these UK metals recycling assets, the company has struggled with its metals recycling division. According to a SITA UK spokesman, when the scrap metal facilities were operating, the plants processed a combined total of around 500,000 tonnes of scrap metal per year. However, the company ceased processing metals in July when it decided to sell off these assets.

SITA UK is a subsidiary of Suez Environnement, a recycling and resource management company based in Paris. While the company has exited the metals recycling industry, SITA UK says it still has ambitious plans to develop new recycling and resource management operations. The spokesman notes that in 2013 the company has been selected as the preferred bidder on two public-private partnership contracts with a combined value of more than £2 billion over the next 25 years.


PAPER

Chinese Government Seeks Paper Output Cuts
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has reportedly sent a notice to 67 papermakers that they must reach a consensus to cut 6.35 million tonnes of annual output from the national market.

According to a report in the China Daily newspaper, “the low-end papermaking industry has become a key target of the government’s new measures to cut industrial overcapacity.” The newspaper does not define what MIIT considers to be “low-end” papermaking.

The request is similar to others that MIIT has made previously to the copper and aluminium smelting industries, the steel industry and cement producers.

A MIIT official quoted by China Daily says the government believes the output cuts can help resolve overcapacity problems and prevent air pollution, suggesting older mills with higher emissions levels are being targeted.

The paper producers have not been given much time to determine how to cut output, as the mills targeted for closure have been given a deadline to eliminate excess capacity by the end of 2013.

“Authorities won’t allow the companies to transfer the overcapacity to other facilities, according to the ministry,” says the China Daily report.

The same report indicates the paper industry is being treated lightly compared with the steel industry, where MIIT sees excess capacity of more than 160 million tonnes, and the cement sector, where the ministry estimates excess capacity of more than 300 million tonnes.


PAPER

CEPI Decries EC Proposals on End-of-Waste Criteria
The Confederation of the European Paper Industry (CEPI), Brussels, has expressed concern that the European Commission’s proposal on end-of-waste (EoW) criteria for paper fails to address the objectives of increasing the quality and availability of paper for recycling and will have an adverse impact on making Europe a resource-efficient recycling society.

In a statement, CEPI notes that in 2012, 71.7% of the paper consumed in Europe was recycled. However, the EC’s proposal threatens Europe’s ability to maintain its recycling rates for paper, let alone improve them, says the group.

The European Commission’s EoW criteria for paper move the recycling and EoW point from its current location at the paper mill to an earlier stage in the collection. As a result of this move, “recycled paper” will be unusable without further reprocessing, says CEPI.

As a result, the European paper industry says it fears the new legislation risks a lower quality of paper for recycling and poses a threat to current high levels of paper recycling.

The amount of impurities in the output of end-of-waste would be 15,000 times higher than they are at this moment, according to CEPI. Annually, this will mean 1 million tonnes of impurities such as plastic bags would be allowed by the Commission in Europe, CEPI adds.

“With this proposal, the European Commission will be exporting pollution to the poor and importing unemployment to Europe,” says Jori Ringman, CEPI recycling and environment director. “It all works against the idea of the EU becoming a resource-efficient recycling society as well as against the re-industrialization of Europe.”


EVENTS

CRRA Hangzhou: Tough Fence to Clear
A slower growing economy and Operation Green Fence have combined to make the plastic scrap sector in China a difficult one in 2013.

Speaking to attendees of the 2013 China National Resources Recycling Association (CRRA) International Recycling Conference & Exhibition in early September, Zhang Xiujuan of Sublime China Information Co. Ltd. (SCI) said the market for plastic recyclers in China this year has witnessed “large volume reductions” and is “not getting stronger.”

Zhang estimated that many processors of imported plastic scrap are working at “50% to 60% operating rates” and “some are below 30%” of their operating capacity. She added that “margins and revenue are low and profit is reduced.”

Operation Green Fence and other “supply-side regulations” have both lowered volumes and increased operating costs, said Zhang. “Compared to 2012, shipments are reduced in both number and the size of the purchase orders,” she added. One exception was the month of July, when import volumes enjoyed a “huge increase” after the slow period from February to June, said Zhang.

She told attendees that the third quarter of the year is typically the peak season for rigid plastic scrap imports, but early indicators are that demand is “far from rolling.”

Domestic plastic scrap collection in China, on the other hand, is “increasing rapidly,” said Zhang. She predicted that, with the support of national policymakers, domestic plastic scrap recovery “will meet 70%” in the future in China.

Zhang portrayed China’s plastic scrap processing sector as fragmented, with 90% of the processing volume conducted by small and medium enterprises. She urged such enterprises to combine to create economies of scale. “We have to strengthen our brand and image,” Zhang said of the plastic recycling sector in China.

The CRRA 2013 China International Recycling Conference & Exhibition was 3-5 Sept. at the San Li New Century Grand Hotel in Hangzhou, China.


PLASTICS

Plastic Bag Recycling Plant Opens in UK
PlasRecycle, a United Kingdom-based company that was founded in 2010, has opened what it says is the first plant in the UK dedicated to recycling post-consumer shopping bags and films collected at the kerbside. The company expects to recycle the material into a clean plastic granulate that will be used to manufacture new bags and other products.

The PlasRecycle facility was funded through a £10.7-million investment from private sources and two loans from public sector bodies.

When fully operational, expected by the end of 2013, the facility will be able to process around 20,000 tonnes per year of films and bags. The company also reports that it is planning to expand the facility in 2014.


METALS

Scholz Sells Some of its Assets
German scrap metal recycling firm Scholz AG, headquartered in Essingen, Germany, has signed an agreement to sell its aluminium smelter in Tatabanya, Hungary, to Sceptre Inc. of the United States. The smelter, a part of Scholz’s aluminium group, was deemed a non-core unit of the Scholz Group.

Scholz also has announced the sale of a recycling facility in Velbert, Germany, to Wilhelm Raven Euro-Metall GmbH, a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-based company Metallum Holding AG. The scrap recycling facility has a total of 34 employees. Metallum says with the acquisition it will strengthen its metal recycling and trading business in western Germany.

The sale of the assets follows the company’s restructuring of its operations to reduce its debt from around ¤1 billion to €700 million. The sale of the two assets will be used to help further reduce the debt.

Along with the sale of the assets, Scholz also recently obtained a new credit facility of around €40 million, which the company says will allow it to continue to fund its current business as it looks to further reduce its debt through the sale of assets.

Other assets that the company is considering selling include the business units of its stainless steel trading business and its aluminium division.

Metallum Holding, a holding group founded in 2007, holds stakes in a number of companies that recycle and process nonferrous metals. The company says it recycles, processes and sells around 1 million tonnes of metal per year, with 60% being copper, 20% in the aluminium sector and 20% either iron-based or other metals.

The Scholz Group, which includes numerous subsidiary companies and firms under the umbrella of Scholz AG, has direct interest in 50 companies and holds indirect interest in numerous subsidiaries located in 500 sites within Europe.


ELECTRONICS

E-Waste Systems Announces Ventures in Africa and India
Electronics recycling and reverse logistics company E-Waste Systems Inc. (EWSI), headquartered in London, has signed an agreement with Ghana-based Community Waste Ltd. representing the first partnership arrangement for E-Waste in Africa.

“We are thrilled having our first teaming agreement in Ghana, Africa,” says Martin Nielson, founder and CEO of EWSI. “We are also inviting other local partners and authorities to join our enterprise to provide local jobs while we do the right thing for the environment.”

Nielson says the agreement will help prevent the landfilling of electronic scrap on the African continent. “As with the venture launched in the Caribbean, our project for Africa is designed to remove electronics from landfill sites across the country for processing in our facilities,” he says.

The company also has partnered with Cerebra Integrated Technologies Ltd., based in India, to build and operate an electronics recycling facility in Bangalore, India. The facility will use EWSI’s ePlant1000 technology, the company reports.

According to EWSI, the facility is expected to recover at least 98% of the recyclable material available.

Cerebra provides manufacturing, IT repair and refurbishment as well as electronics recycling services.


METALS

Outokumpu Continues to Cut Production
The stainless steel giant Outokumpu, headquartered in Espoo, Finland, has announced plans for additional structural changes in its European operations as it seeks to improve its financial performance and efficiency while bringing its supply and demand back into balance.

Outokumpu, which already cut production following its acquisition of Inoxum at the end of 2012, says that with continued challenges in the stainless steel industry it will continue to reduce capacity.

Outokumpu says the stainless steel market has remained challenging throughout 2013, mainly driven by the continued economic weakness in Europe and the global overcapacity in the industry. Because of that, the company says it continues to see heavy losses in 2013, with a net debt of ¤3 billion at the end of June 2013.

Going further, industry overcapacity and imports from Asia continue to put pressure on prices and profitability, and there are no signs of a material improvement in the market environment. For example, Outokumpu notes that in Europe, there are more than 1.5 million tonnes of overcapacity in cold rolled production. In addition, the planned sale of its Terni, Italy, mill, as required by the European Commission, resulted in lower synergy potential than originally planned.

To accelerate its return to profitability, Outokumpu has introduced a new industrial plan and efficiency measures for its European operations. The planned changes include accelerating the closure of its melt shop facility in Bochum, Germany, to achieve a more efficient production structure and higher capacity utilization rates. The plant was originally scheduled to close in 2016 but will now close in 2014.

The company also plants to reduce its annealing and pickling capacity by 200,000 tonnes in Finland and cold rolling capacity by up to 350,000 tonnes in Germany. Other measures include optimizing its service center network and streamlining the organizational structure across sites.

“Today’s announcement introduces a solid industrial plan to turn Outokumpu back to profitability,” says Mika Seitovirta, CEO of Outokumpu. “In our European coil business, we will have a two-pillar strategy: Tornio in Finland will be the cost leader in high-volume austenitic and ferritic standard grades with excellent cost structure and high quality, while our German operations will be the cold rolling center for premium tailored materials for the most demanding end-customer segments.”


KERBSIDE

EU Group Calls for Ambitious Recycling Targets
The European Union’s Committee of the Regions (CoR) has proposed ambitious targets on EU waste that highlight the contribution waste management and recycling plays in Europe. According to the CoR, European cities have called for its recommendations to be taken by the European Commission, which is expected to release its proposals in 2014.

The opinion, presented by Michel Lebrun, a member of the Parliament of the French-speaking Community, argues that to achieve success, targets must reflect the differing levels of progress and resources available between member states and local authorities.

Lebrun, who had his report on EU waste targets endorsed by an majority during CoR’s July plenary, pointed out, “Each year the European Union throws away 3 billion metric tons of waste—6 metric tons of solid waste per person per year. It’s not just harmful for the environment, but has a direct impact on human health. As we are still in an economic crisis, it is essential to ensure that all policies support economic development. Waste management is a priority that can support competition with the number one goal of decoupling waste production from economic growth.”

Following a request by the European Commission, CoR released an opinion piece, “The review of the European Union’s Key Waste Targets.” In the report, the committee argues that EU targets must consider the reasons for non-compliance, with objectives being proportionate to account for the differing levels of services, infrastructure and financial investment in waste management between local authorities.

“I hope that the forthcoming directive on waste enables the most advanced countries to move toward a zero-waste society and encourages others to make progress allowing them to catch up,” Lebrun notes.

Lebrun’s opinion also sets out targets. Proposals include exploring options to raise the recycling of solid municipal waste target to 70% by 2025; ensuring that all waste is subject to selective sorting by 2020; and prohibiting the landfilling of biodegradable waste by 2020.

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