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Nonferrous scrap traders could face a major disruption courtesy of proposed (but not yet finalized) Chinese trade regulations, according to Ma Hongchang, a consultant in Chinese affairs for the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR). He provided an update on the matter at the Non-Ferrous Metals Division meeting at the 2017 World Recycling Convention, held in late May in Hong Kong.
Ma said China’s Central Committee indicated April 18 that it intended to phase in a policy to create “a drastic reduction in both the quantities and items [of scrap] imported [into China]."
“Base metal prices have started a long-term cyclical upturn.” – John Browning, BANDS Financial Ltd.
He added, “As far as I know, regarding nonferrous metal scrap, scrap motors, scrap wire and cable and mixed metal scrap will be prohibited after the end of 2018.”
In 2017, the multiagency National Sword campaign in China has resulted in raids on plastic and metals recycling firms in provinces and cities throughout China, with more than 150 people arrested for activities considered as “smuggling,” Ma said.
BIR Non-Ferrous Division Chairman David Chiao of Atlanta-based Uni-All Ltd.
Delivering better news was John Browning of Hong Kong-based BANDS Financial Ltd., who said, “Base metal prices have started a long-term cyclical upturn.” Part of the reason, he said, is China’s “One Belt One Road” spending initiative, which will involve more big-ticket, metals-consuming infrastructure projects.
“As far as I know, regarding nonferrous metal scrap, scrap motors, scrap wire and cable and mixed metal scrap will be prohibited after the end of 2018.” – Ma Hongchang, a consultant to the BIR
Ongoing global demand should help metals producers catch up with the increased capacity of the past several years, which caused “base metals [pricing to be] in decline from 2011 to 2016,” Browning said.
While metals production capacity has increased from 2011 to 2016, he said, mining expansions were halted. Even if metals prices rise, “Creating a new mine can take five to eight years,” Browning said, meaning an ore supply deficit could last several years—likely good news for scrap traders.
Cohen employee receives ISRI’s Golden Wrench Award
The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has presented Forrest Matheny of Cohen, Middletown, Ohio, with a Golden Wrench Award for exhibiting outstanding efforts, achievements and contributions during a career in vehicle maintenance that spans more than 25 years.
“Through a strong track record of safety, training background and mentorship of others, Forrest Matheny exemplifies the meaning behind the Golden Wrench Award,” says
Matheny has worked at Cohen since 1993. He serves as a shop supervisor with responsibilities that include all maintenance on the company’s fleet of equipment. In addition, Matheny purchases equipment and supervises a team of mechanics.
“The ISRI Golden Wrench award to me is more than being a great mechanic, it is about being a leader,” says Todd Will, transportation manager for Cohen. “Forrest leads by example with a strong work ethic and for reinforcing core values of respect,
To be considered for the Golden Wrench Award, candidates must be nominated by someone familiar with their work
Additionally, a member company Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) vehicle maintenance performance score cannot exceed 60 percent (CSA Threshold 80 percent) or have a record of CSA intervention letters/alert notices within the past 24 months (in any of the CSA Seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).
The award was presented to Matheny at the ISRI2017 convention in New Orleans. In addition to travel to and lodging at the convention, he received a crystal award and a personalized certificate.
ISRI also honored other industry professionals at its annual conference, including Safe Driver of the Year Award and two Lifetime Achievement Awards.
While optical sorters commonly are used to sort paper in material recovery facilities (MRFs) that handle single-stream commercial material, their use on residential fiber sort lines is increasing for a variety of reasons, according to industry sources.
“The new Chinese regulations of no more than 3 percent contamination within fiber are causing all kinds of labor issues,” John Green, president of Green Machine, Hampstead, New Hampshire, says, referring to that country’s National Sword inspection program for incoming recyclables and its impact on operators of single-stream residential MRFs. “Added labor is expensive and so is slowing the line down,” he says. “It’s becoming more expensive to sort single stream.”
Justifications for adding optics
Sources contacted for this article say that when it comes to using optical sorters for paper, in general, a frequently used phrase is “it just depends.” From whether optical sorters make sense in residential MRFs to where they should be positioned to create
“I recommend those who are considering deploying optics go through the exercise of completing a pro forma,” Green says. “It’s generally part of [Green Machine’s] offering. We look at the economics behind the deployment of optics through labor savings, increased
Green says his residential MRF customers primarily use optical sorters to recover plastics. When deployed on fiber lines, either clean fiber is sorted or contaminants, such as containers and brown grades, are targeted. Green Machine’s optical accelerator conveyors in residential MRFs are wide and fast, allowing for
In terms of spectroscopy, Green recommends hyperspectral technologies, calling them “far
“With this type of technology, we’re able to identify all types of fibers and color,” Green says. “We can sort sorted office paper from cardboard from kraft paper from news—long fiber, short fiber—it’s able to identify all grades of fibers individually or collectively.”
A typical residential MRF features one to three fiber lines. According to Green, it makes the most sense to place the optical sorter on the most contaminated line because the machine can catch more contaminants than hand sorting. For Green Machine, he says the goal is a 97 percent clean stream, and, while some manufacturers boast a 99 percent clean stream, the minimum market requirements are more realistic. “The point is to maximize tonnage while meeting minimal market criteria,” Green says.
Education and contamination
For MSS Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, contamination is one of the greatest factors to consider when adding optics on the fiber lines of residential MRFs. This is because, Sales Director Felix Hottenstein says, “on the residential side, we’re using it to clean up news or mixed paper, not to sort higher grades.”
Residential MRFs that use MSS optical sorters have two things in common: high volumes and high contamination levels. However, he adds, “You need to have the right volume and material coming in that’s not too contaminated, or else you won’t get a higher grade.”
Optical sorters typically are installed in residential MRFs when they operate at 25 tons to 30 tons per hour with an average material stream composition. If the tonnage is lower, installing an optical sorter isn’t justifiable unless the material is extremely contaminated.
Hottenstein says MSS customers using optical sorters on their residential fiber lines offer three reasons for doing so: improved technology, reduction of manual labor and improved material quality.
Hottenstein says eight hand sorters on a line can make about 400 picks per hour, but optical sorters can make about 2,000 picks in that same time
“The savings on the manual labor is the last reason,” he says of MRF operators objectives when adding optical sorting on their residential fiber lines.
While optical sorters normally are used to sort plastic bottles, MSS can replace the sensor head and reroute the conveyor to sort fiber.
Hawn suggests moving from the VIS-NIR (visible near-infrared) spectroscopy typically found in MRFs to either a SWIR (
“For that technique to work, you need to have control on your infeed material’s temperature and humidity,” he says.
While making the plunge to install an optical sorter on a residential MRF’s fiber line can be intimidating, Hottenstein says the advancing technology makes the justification undeniable.
“I think we made quite a big step in the last two years, especially in the last two to three months,” he says. “It’s a matter of whether you save enough labor to justify it. New specifications and the need for cleaner paper from the China situation may cause more need for optical sorters, especially on the residential side. Bigger machines are more expensive, but you have to do what you have to do. You either have to save money or make money.”
The author is the assistant editor of the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Making money from auto shredder residue (ASR) requires more than simply bringing cars in the front gate. A huge factor, as Earl Weber Jr., owner of Garden Street Iron and Metal in Cincinnati, knows, is recovering all the metals possible. That means the big stuff and the fines. Gathering fines not only adds to the amount of aluminum, copper, stainless and other metals recovered, it also reduces expenses on the back end.
Keeping an eye on details is one reason the family-owned operation is celebrating its 55th year in business this year. “Our goal is to recover more metal out of the fluff,” Weber says. He figures Garden Street’s installation of an Eriez FineSort allows the company to do just that.
“Our goal is to pull more minus-5-millimeter material out of the fluff,” Weber says. “We are getting an extra 3 percent, conservatively.”
He says he is less fixed on the exact percentage than he is on knowing that Garden Street’s processing line is more efficient and effective. “I don’t have as much of a trash bill for shredder residue,” Weber says.
“Fines are something that can’t be overlooked anymore,” agrees Ryan Njavro, general manager for ferrous and nonferrous products at U.S. Shredder and Castings Group, headquartered in Miramar Beach, Florida. “The value is huge, and the system is too easy to operate now not to use.”
Today, small to midsize shredder operators represent 90 percent of the market, according to Bill Close, applications engineer at Wendt Corp., Buffalo, New York. He says all those shredder operators should be making fines and
The remaining 10 percent of the market—those with large shredders or multiple shredders located closely together—have the volume to consider making additional investments that put them in the position to make high-quality refinery products. “These same fines processors will be in the business of buying the concentrates from the other 90 percent of the market,” Close says.
Fines often are referred to as “
“Fines ASR will typically constitute anywhere from 40 to 60 percent (by weight) of the ASR,” says Mike Shattuck, market manager of recycling for Eriez, Erie Pennsylvania. ASR
“In today’s market,
He notes that the figure will vary from operation to operation, depending on the shredder feedstock and the equipment installed at the residue plant. Regardless of where on the spectrum a recycler falls, Haegelsteen says his company’s system will leave no more than 0.2 percent of nonferrous metals in the MFP (
In a typical auto shredding system, roughly 2 percent to 3 percent of the fines stream is nonferrous, with an additional 5 to 7.5 percent being ferrous, according to Haegelsteen.
A certain volume of fines must be generated before a recycler can consider investing in fines recovery equipment. Njavro says he would like to see around 1,000 tons per month going to the landfill. “In some cases, lately people are seeing their 5/8-inch and under [fines] making up 50 percent of the total weight generated in ASR,” he says.
Close says 1.5 percent of the typical total ASR stream easily can be concentrated with screening and ECS technologies that are well-applied. An additional 0.75 percent can be concentrated using sensor-based and other technologies. Shredder operations of all sizes can benefit from screening and ECS technologies, while midsize and large shredder operations can benefit from the addition of sensor-based technologies.
“All recyclers should make concentrates,” Close says, adding that some should go even further.
In automobile shredding operations, typically nonferrous materials less than 1 inch in size are considered fines. Materials smaller than 1/4-inch are considered by most as
As much as 10 percent nonferrous can be recovered from the ASR between the
“Magnetic dirt will affect the recovery and grade of the
In fact, one of the main reasons nonferrous metals are lost in ASR fines is because of the entrapment of that valuable fraction in the magnetic dirt. Haegelsteen says that can represent 30 percent to 40 percent of the fines.
“The higher the moisture content of the fines, the more entrapment and the higher the loss of valuable metals in the magnetic dirt fraction,” he says.
Making it work
When Garden Street purchased its FineSort, the company’s goal was to recover 1-inch-minus ASR. However, the line failed to capture some of the finer nonferrous metals. So, Weber purchased another ESC to follow the FineSort. The strategy was to set the FineSort up to produce a dirty
Weber says he is recovering an additional 400 pounds of
When Weber sold the
“We get a mix of aluminum,
The misses from the FineSort, which contain that fine bare copper wire, and the misses from the second ECS with the intentional losses of the 1/4-inch-minus aluminum are presented to an ultra-high-frequency ECS to recover the
This process is netting more than 300 pounds of
In addition to ASR, among the other applications that generate recoverable metallic fines are electronics recycling, ash from municipal solid waste incineration and wire chopping, Haegelsteen says.
Wherever the operation, certain areas almost always will profit from a once-over on the fines system. Be aware, however, that such special situations require a bit of rethinking in terms of handling the product, sources say.
“Every processor, regardless of capacity, should at least have basic recovery on the fines ASR,” Shattuck states. “ROI (return on investment) is typically short with the high volumes of nonferrous metal available in the minus-1-inch ASR stream,” he says.
A small shredder producing 50 tons per hour typically will produce 10 tons to 12 tons of ASR per hour. This equates to 5 or 6 tons per hour of fines that can contain better than 20 percent nonferrous metals.
Most processors earn a small premium for
“I’d do it again for sure,” Weber says of his fines recovery project.
The author is a contributing editor to Recycling Today and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.