BIR Global eForum: Safety, emissions issues part of 2020 shredding landscape
The BIR has prepared a questionnaire designed to gather safety-related information from shredding plant operators.
Photo by Recycling Today staff

BIR Global eForum: Safety, emissions issues part of 2020 shredding landscape

New BIR questionnaire targets accident prevention analysis; in Europe, emissions are attracting attention.

June 11, 2020

The Shredder Committee of the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has prepared a questionnaire on safety it intends to distribute to auto shredding plant operators worldwide. The global effort builds on an in-house company survey organized by United States-based David J. Joseph Co. (DJJ) and its Senior Vice President/General Counsel Chris Bedell.

At a BIR meeting in 2018, Bedell summarized the results of DJJ’s survey of the 17 shredding plants it operated. Based on some of those findings, Bedell said as of 2020, the number of accidents or close call incidents the company is experiencing at shredder yards “is down quite a bit.”

Ross Bartley, trade and environment director of BIR, said the organization has modified the original DJJ questionnaire and has developed an electronic version of it that “can be taken on a computer or phone.” The BIR survey will be available in different languages to “anyone running a 1,000 horsepower or larger auto shredder,” said Bartley.

“We would wish to maximize participation and see some benefits for everyone from the analysis that results,” remarked Bartley, who added that “only aggregated data” would be made public, “not company-specific” information.

Shredder Committee Chair Scott Newell III of United States-based Newell Recycling Equipment said the committee “plans to do this every year” so it can identify trends that can help lead to auto shredding safety best practices.

In the European Union, a Best Available Techniques (BAT) effort and its Best Available Technique Reference Document (BREF) resulted from numerous years of dialog between government regulators concerned about emissions and other environmental issues, and recyclers who operate shredders.

Thomas Papageorgiou of Greece-based recycling firm Anamet Recycling Industry SA said shredder operators in Europe are “working on this compliance” involving both air and water emissions. Papageorgiou held up a box full of documents he indicated his company had prepared pertaining to BREF compliance.

He added, “The main issue here in Europe is the BREF process [was] the product of a compromise between different stakeholders” from both government and industry. However, “Governments in some cases tend to go beyond what is described in the BREF and ask for stricter limits.”

Papageorgiou cited the government of Wallonia, a region in Belgium, as a place where shredder operators are challenging what they consider to be unobtainable targets. “If such situations occur after such a long process, that is sad,” he remarked.

Newell also gave a quick overview of the BIR’s updated global auto shredder list. The BIR has identified 322 shredding plants in the U.S., 300 in Europe, and 536 in the rest of the world. Some of those plants are currently idle because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturns, he noted.

Representatives of three companies that provide downstream shredder equipment and technology also made presentations.

Mike Shattuck of United States-based Eriez discussed the company’s Shred1 device designed to produce low-copper ferrous shred in an automated manner. Karl Hoffmann of Germany-based Steinert reviewed the benefits of X-ray transmission (XRT) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) devices for automated nonferrous mixed metal separation. And Brian Gist, who works from the United Kingdom for Germany-based Tomra Sorting Recycling, offered information about how Tomra’s X-Tract device can help scrap recyclers remove magnesium and magnesium alloys from their aluminum scrap streams.