According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW).” In 2012, the EPA notes, the U.S. generated more than 36 million tons of food waste, which accounted for 14.5 percent of MSW. Only 5 percent of this material was diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.
According to the EPA, the benefits of diverting food waste from landfills are multifaceted. The environmental benefits include reducing methane from landfills, reducing resource use associated with food production, creating a valuable soil amendment and improving sanitation, public safety and health. The EPA claims businesses can reap economic benefits by diverting food waste as well. These include lower disposal costs, reductions in overpurchasing and tax benefits from donating food. This last economic benefit provides a social benefit as well, as the EPA says an estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food.
Many municipalities have received the message. San Francisco, for instance, has a mandatory composting program, while San Jose, Calif., businesses saw landfill diversion grow from 22 percent to nearly 70 percent from July 2012 to December 2012 when the city’s waste collection services began including source-separated organics.
Massachusetts also has introduced a commercial food waste disposal ban, which goes into effect Oct. 1, 2014. The ban is designed to divert food waste to energy-generating and composting facilities and to reduce the commonwealth’s waste stream.
The ban, regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, will require any entity that disposes of at least 1 ton of organic material per week to donate or repurpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste will be shipped to an anaerobic digestion facility, where it will be converted to energy, or sent to composting and animal feed operations.
“We are committed to protecting our natural resources and creating jobs as the commonwealth’s clean energy economy grows,” says Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan in a news release. “The disposal ban is critical to achieving our aggressive waste disposal reduction goals and it is in line with our commitment to increase clean energy production.”
Collecting organics has a unique set of challenges. In the feature, “Entering new territory,” beginning on page 96, we look at how one hauler and recycler addressed these challenges in preparation of Massachusetts’ organics disposal ban.
As more municipalities seek to divert organics from disposal and reap the benefits associated with doing so, reading about the experiences of other companies can help to reduce the learning curve for haulers and recyclers that may be handling this material for the first time.
A topsy-turvy winter has had an effect on regional markets for red metal scrap. Meanwhile, the overall price of copper scrap continues to slip and slide. It is a goofy time; when there is more concern about snow and ice in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., than in Albany and Buffalo, N.Y., something is awry.
The traditional winter slowdown in nonferrous scrap markets was anticipated and built into many schedules. The gradual price decline that started in 2013 comes after several record-setting years of high prices.
“Materials continue to flow despite weather disruptions,” says Brady Bird, president of S.I.C. Recycling, Riverton, Ill., of the supply situation in early February. “Supplies are starting to tighten up,” he acknowledges, “but that is customary for this time of year. Given what is going on, supply is decent for this time of year,” he adds.
The challenge his operation faces is mostly in the area of timing. “For the most part, there’s been some juggling to be done,” Bird says. However, customers are quite aware of the news and weather forecasts and tend to go with the flow, such as it is, he says.
Location seems to make a difference. Just a day after the February blizzard whipped across Alabama, Emmet Ross, the accountant at Jordan Scrap in Birmingham, was able to report that the company was open for business.
“Not bad,” he says of Jordan Scrap’s outbound shipments. “Our mills are very close to us,” he explains. On the other hand, nothing had come into the company’s yards yet as haulers waited for ice to melt and roads littered with abandoned cars to clear. In-bound deliveries were expected, but schedules remained erratic, Ross adds.
“That depends on outside trucks and contract drivers,” he says of transportation schedules.
“Things are tight right now,” says Todd Safran, vice president and chief operating officer of Safran Metals, Chicago. (See “Close ties” in the February 2014 issue of Recycling Today for a profile of the company). “Nothing is coming in or going out.”
The reason for the stagnation is tied to the weather. “Trucking is behind the eight-ball,” Safran says. “It is tough to move stuff right now.”
Simply put, everyone in the industry has a schedule. When the weather tosses in its wild card, the game changes. “Everyone has needs for tomorrow, and everyone has needs from yesterday,” Safran says.
Buyers at Rivers Edge Scrap Management, Kansas City, Mo., say they are able to ship nonferrous material the company has processed. Getting metal into the yard is a different story, however. Material flow has been on the slow side, they say.
When it comes to the weather, “I don’t see the problem … it’s 80 degrees and sunny here,” laughs Michael Diehl, director of copper for Alpert & Alpert, Los Angeles. “From a Los Angeles point of view, snow is a very foreign concept.”
However, he is quick to point out that, even on the West Coast, the weather-related challenges of the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard have reverberated into his market.
On top of that, similar cold weather blues in Asia certainly have an impact on the material the company ships overseas.
“Shipments are two to three weeks behind a normal schedule,” Diehl says as of mid-February. With its effect on container flow, the weather forecasts 2,000 miles away become a big problem in Southern California.
Many scrap dealers say they find it difficult to move material in any direction as February comes to a close. All sorts of people in cities such as Atlanta just gave up on the idea of moving freight or even going home for the night and hunkered down in motels. Market prices, however, continued to tick along.
Bare bright 12-stranded copper wire was selling for about 25 cents per foot in some locations. A more typical quote had No. 1 bare bright wire at $3.30 per pound and insulated wire at $2.65 at the start of the year. No. 1 copper wire and tubing was quoted at $3.17 per pound, though regional variations were present. In Florida, No. 1 bare bright wire was fetching nearly $2.75 per pound at the scale in mid-February. That is still a long way from the $3.70 per pound that the material fetched this time last year.
One way to increase the value of scrap, jobbers are discovering, is to bring it in without the insulation.
“Copper wire is worth at least 30 percent more when it’s stripped,” says Scott Cole, DeLand, Fla. He is the inventor of a device that makes it easy for individuals to capitalize on repurposing used or discarded wire. It is not a tool a recycling operation would use, but it is one that a recycler could mention to regular jobbers, electricians, contractors, construction workers or repairmen who supply wire on an ad hoc basis.
Cole’s tool is called the Zoda Tools Wire Stripper (http://zodatools.com). It is a small, portable device that strips insulation from valuable copper wire. Not a budget-buster, it sells for $58.50. With some experience, a jobber can strip 100 feet of 10-gauge wire in less than six minutes, Cole says. The resulting 3.2 pounds of copper will bring a better per-pound price at most scrap yards. And processors are eager for material.
“We certainly are buying,” Safran says. Finding stuff to buy is another question.
“The slowdown has trickled down to everyone,” Safran continues. “Everyone is feeling a bit of the squeeze—everyone from freight to foundry to metals buyers to the small guys.”
State governors were not closing down Interstate highways in the Great Lakes area the way they were in the deep South in late January and again in mid-February.
“Snow doesn’t cripple us at all,” Bird says. “We continue to fulfill our contracts.”
Typically there will be a lag from the time the weather breaks to the time scrap shipments get back in full gear. Material is delayed getting from shipper to dealer, and it takes a while for the pipelines to refill and a new normal to return.
A new year
As expected, the Chinese New Year—the Year of the Horse—did not get off to a galloping start. Markets traditionally fade when the Chinese New Year comes around. That was true in 2014. However, with the Lunar New Year celebration in the rearview mirror, markets seemed to forget that they were due to pick up a bit.
“International is definitely slower than in years past,” Diehl says. Looking back five or six years, he says Chinese New Year was a minor event or nonevent. This year, buyers were talking about time off for the Lantern Festival a week after they should have been placing orders after the Lunar New Year.
“The tone of the market has changed,” Diehl says. “It goes back to December.” He adds that sales to China during the period from December through January and into February were almost nonexistent.
“Demand for this year will be lower,” Diehl predicts. He says he sees blister copper, a porous brittle form of copper that is 98 to 99.5 percent pure, coming on in serious amounts as a substitute for copper scrap in China. This presumably will have a negative effect on scrap prices.
Overseas markets are always a bit of a question mark and sometimes an enigma for domestic scrap handlers. “I’m never sure what will happen,” Safran admits. “That market comes and it goes.”
Although S.I.C. does no export business, the company is aware of the market echoes caused by changes in the international marketplace for copper, brass and other nonferrous materials. Although Bird says he sees some continued macrolevel instability in the international market, he adds, “There still is enough domestic demand that ate up any absence of turnings in the market.”
Bird says domestic demand is good. “The automotive markets have stabilized and continue to improve,” he says.
Will markets spring ahead as the weather warms up?
“I’m hoping things will pick up as we get to the warmer months,” Safran says, “but nobody is too aggressive on ordering. Nobody is putting extra inventory on their shelves.”
“We are seeing stabilization coming off a couple of down years,” Bird says. “The U.S. economy is picking up and has some momentum.” Bird points to the positive news in manufacturing and the start of a housing rebound. Automotive continues to do well too, he adds. “We should be all right as long as there are no surprises,” Bird says.
Diehl is not as optimistic about international markets. “The price of scrap is much too high,” he says, even given that prices have dipped 70 cents or more from 2013 levels. “2013 was very high,” he says, noting that high prices make substitutes like blister copper more attractive to buyers.
He says Birch Cliff copper (also known as No. 2) has got a tough row to hoe against substitutes.
On top of that, Diehl says copper has gone from a go-go commodity to a rather staid item in terms of the speculator or investor market. The bull market started in 2008, and copper hit some amazing highs in 2010. “Now the cash flow is coming out of the market. Last year was in a down trend. This year we’ll see more of the same until we hit a base.”
Safran says he expects to see spreads tighten a bit as we go into spring as volumes increase. More so in the Midwest, but almost everywhere in North America this year, spring should be a time for renewed work in the construction and infrastructure areas.
That may hold true for some markets. Diehl says he expects more market volatility, adding that spreads have the potential to get wider. “We have the potential to go much lower … down to $2.80 or $2.90,” he says.
Diehl dismisses dealers who are still talking about $4 copper any time soon. “They need to be a bit more realistic,” he says. “It’s a new era. It’s a trickier market out there. You have to adapt and be quicker to do things.
“This market will be more challenging,” Diehl predicts. “It’s no fun when you are sitting in the middle of it, but we’re coming off six good years.”
The author is a Cleveland-based contributing editor to Recycling Today. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Polymers and plastics are much younger materials than metals or paper and thus can be expected to be behind in the evolution of technology, collection supply chains and processing capacity.
Among the people taking steps to speed up that evolutionary time frame is Ron Sherga, founder and board chairman of EcoStrate SFS LLC, Arlington, Texas.
Sherga enjoyed decades of plastics and recycling industry experience before taking the major step of founding EcoStrate in 2012. The company has set out to establish new manufacturing processes and facilities that will consume types of plastic scrap that commonly head to a landfill rather than being recycled.
Casting out demons
The progress that plastics recycling has enjoyed in the past two decades has allowed some types of plastic scrap—such as No. 1 PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles—to become commonly collected and traded and to rise in value.
Likewise, sustainability efforts by large corporations have helped increase recycling of computers and telecom equipment, exterior automotive components and some types of carpeting.
Despite a more active market and increased attention from large companies, a diverse and sizable stream of plastic goods and packaging is unlikely to be recycled, especially if it is to stay within the U.S.
Sherga sees this wide-ranging and complex stream as an opportunity. “My focus from day one has been to obtain polymer-based materials that have no option in the U.S. other than landfilling or being burned,” he says.
Not only are these materials obtainable, but recycling them can provide several benefits. “They have the biggest pain point and often are such an issue they make viable recycling processes uneconomical,” Sherga says. “They are the key excuses for the demonizing of plastics because they do not have any markets.”
Sherga says he did not start EcoStrate thinking he was the first to try to tackle this problem. “After many years of watching dozens of companies create complex systems to recycle products and mixed materials, I felt that there were very few systems that worked well or worked economically,” he comments.
“With that in mind, I decided to do the opposite of almost all existing processes and create EcoStrate,” says Sherga. “Initial testing proved so encouraging that I invested in equipment, materials and legal support for intellectual property. So far, my vision has proven to be correct, and we are creating materials for sale at small commercial levels for certification and validation of performance.”
Among the products EcoStrate is making using its as yet proprietary process are street signs, flooring and building panels. “We create substrates and provide a great base material for lamination and painting or finishing,” Sherga says. “We recognize broader applications exist; but, as a new firm, we’ve had to operate within a limited budget and focus on markets we can enter the fastest.”
According to Sherga, EcoStrate’s process accepts a broad range of plastic manufacturing scrap and end-of-life material. “We are able to use numerous materials and end-of-life products, quite often in the form they exist as they enter our system. Little or no preprocessing or traditional size reduction is needed, and we don’t add chemicals.”
He continues, “We are currently focused on textile, packaging and electronic scrap. A unique capability we have is our ability to take in materials in various forms: hard plastics, fiber, films and dusts. We are very broad in regard to this.”
Regarding the EcoStrate process, Sherga says, “Let me say that we repurpose some equipment and are using other equipment in ways not done before,” he comments. “We also have designed equipment of a proprietary nature as part of our next step.”
Ultimately, however, Sherga adds, “We want to share this, after we’ve recovered our investment.”
Bumps in the road
As EcoStrate has fine-tuned its manufacturing process and broadened its range of finished products, it also has encountered the hurdles that must be jumped by a company with a new business model.
Sherga says access to some end markets for EcoStrate products has not been instant. “The paths to many applications have had barriers created by the current players to restrict new materials and new players,” he remarks. Sherga notes, for example, that many state departments of transportation only have specifications for aluminum street and highway signs.
For the past year, EcoStrate SFS LLC, Arlington, Texas, has been modifying and expanding its proprietary manufacturing process from a location near Philadelphia.
However, according to Ron Sherga, founder and board chairman of the company, the EcoStrate business model has been designed to spread all around the globe.
The problem of plastic scrap being landfilled, dumped or incinerated “is bigger than EcoStrate,” says Sherga. “We want to share this—we don’t want to ‘black box’ something. If our process will solve pollution problems and let people recover waste in developing nations, we want to help.”
The question facing EcoStrate may not be when to expand internationally but which particular nation presents the best first opportunity?
The process EcoStrate offers may be ideal in developing nations, Sherga says, because it is not dependent on a multilink supply chain. “We are not creating pellets or bales, we’re creating a true end product,” he remarks.
Thus, end products such as road signs or flooring can be made directly from the obsolete product scrap that is the current cause of disposal and recycling headaches in developing nations.
Sherga says the EcoStrate process can accept a broad range of plastic scrap as feedstock, including the engineered plastics used in computer and consumer electronics products and textiles that often go unrecycled in developing nations. “Our solutions are based on supply and end markets that exist on every continent,” Sherga says.
“If states embrace us, we can use their excess materials to make highway signs for them,” says Sherga. “In California we can use their carpet and other forms of scrap that have been banned from the landfill. But these same states are so accepting of aluminum that they don’t have a protocol for us to submit our substrate material.”
State governments with well-thought-out recycling policies can be part of the solution to increase the recycling rate for carpet, electronic scrap and plastic overall, Sherga says. “I think more mandates and, hopefully, the right incentives to meet them will be created for the recycling industry. I’d like to see more people involved that have business experience in helping to create strategies that can positively affect collection and then recycling into end products,” he adds.
Many of the other emerging companies seeking to collect mixed plastic scrap are makers of alternative fuels. Sherga says EcoStrate can make an argument that recycling these plastics into a new product makes more sense than converting them into fuel.
“Our product can be recycled, theirs can’t—it’s eventually being burned, maybe in a more efficient energy-creating way, but it’s still being burned,” he states. “We think that is a temporary bridge.”
In terms of energy savings, Sherga says the EcoStrate process has merits of its own. “We often make more energy-efficient products from a process that, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency energy reports, uses less than 80 percent of the energy and water to make virgin pellets. Combined with the fact we also use feedstocks that have high levels of embedded energy used during their creation in materials and assembly, we might exceed a savings of more than 100 percent compared to virgin polymers. We capture the essence of the value many materials were endowed with during their design and assembly.”
Thinking locally and globally
Cost-effective recycling is often a matter of scale, and Sherga says the company is still calculating the ideal scale or size of an EcoStrate manufacturing plant.
The current thinking is that large plants may not be necessary. “We can be profitable at smaller levels than many recycling or waste-to-energy entities,” he says. “Our manufacturing process is not overly capital intensive, and we can acquire the materials we need in almost any urban area.”
The company is currently working from one manufacturing plant near Philadelphia, but Sherga says he and his colleagues are exploring expansion opportunities in other parts of the country.
“It’s likely that we’ll move to a technology partner’s facility soon for scaling up and improvements,” he says.
Although the EcoStrate process is currently proprietary, keeping it that way is not the long-term plan. “We are happy to look for regional partners, and Texas and California are logical places to go next,” he comments. Both states have several large urban centers, while California also has legislation mandating the recycling of carpet and obsolete electronics.
The availability of feedstock and the viability of EcoStrate end products also has Sherga thinking globally. “We want strategic partners who are invested in developing nations and, through their capital and resources, we are very eager to work with them to help set up facilities.”
Such partners could be “large beverage companies or consumer products groups,” says Sherga. “When you think about it, all these places around the world need flooring, they need signage, they need promotional items—why not make it from the very materials you are promoting?” (See the sidebar, “Geography Quiz,” on the opposite page.)
During 2014, Sherga will be working with key colleagues and allies to create new sales channels for products made from the EcoStrate process and to tap into additional material streams for feedstock.
EcoStrate COO and polymers industry veteran Ron Simonetti has been developing markets and materials supply chains, Sherga says, while Jim Chapman, the company’s former technology leader with experience in the signage industry and in polymer coatings, helped design prototypes and indoor signage sales channels.
Other key allies, Sherga says, have included San Francisco-based plastics recycling firm DCO International Inc., which has helped EcoStrate procure materials; recycling industry contacts Rob Starr of St. Joseph Plastic, St. Joseph, Mo., and Thomas Holland, CEO of Texas Carpet Recycling, Grapevine, Texas; and attorney Scott Hemingway, who has helped EcoStrate take the proper intellectual property and trademark steps.
EcoStrate also has a family business aspect to it, Sherga says. “Karen Sherga, my wife, has been invaluable in tracking paper work and financial performance.”
He says the challenges remain considerable for EcoStrate, but the sheer number of opportunities outweighs those challenges.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we just want to make it rounder and make it roll better,” says Sherga. “Expansion is in our immediate scope, and we never want to accept success as a finish; we see it as a starting point.”
The author is editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than a decade, images of used electronics and their derivative components mounded outdoors in developing countries have propelled interest in the export of these items from the global North to the global South.
Of all of the computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones collected for recycling in the United States in 2010, an estimated 9 percent were exported on a unit basis, or 3 percent on a weight basis. These are some of key findings of the hybrid sales obsolescence trade data method (HSOTDM) presented in a recently published report, the “Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics Analysis of Generation, Collection and Export in the United States.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Materials Systems Lab (MIT MSL), Cambridge, Mass., and the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER), Parkersburg, W.Va., authored the report, which was funded by Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative (StEP), a United Nations initiative. The primary goal of the study was to develop and apply a robust methodology for estimating the exports of used electronics from the U.S. to the rest of the world, with a particular interest in developing country recipients.
While mobile phones dominate generation, collection and export on a unit basis, TVs and monitors dominate on a weight basis. As shown in the figure on page 82, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is a common destination for the used products, followed by North America (NA). Asia represents the next largest destination, while Africa is the least common destination for used electronics.
Since the estimates are based on trade data and some products are likely improperly classified, the quantities should be considered lower-bound estimates. However, the proportions of exports going to different world regions are assumed to be an accurate reflection of the destinations.
Bulky electronics, especially TVs and monitors, were more likely to be exported overland or by sea to destinations such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China. The major destinations for mobile phones were Asia (mostly Hong Kong) and LAC (particularly Paraguay, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Colombia).
By contrast, Asia—which serves as key transit ports for international distribution in Asia and Africa, including Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Lebanon—were more likely to receive used computers, especially laptops, and are likely re-exporting many of those devices to surrounding countries.
It is interesting to note that Africa makes up such a small fraction of the total used electronics exported directly from the U.S. About 80 percent of exported used electronics, including TVs, monitors and mobile phones, have been exported to countries with upper-middle, low-middle and low-income economies as defined by the World Bank. However, the majority of the upper-middle class economies, such as Hong Kong and the UAE, are likely re-export hubs for further distribution to neighboring low income economies.
For comparison points, we also developed and applied methods to estimate the quantity of electronics that were collected or landfilled in a given year. Approximately 258 million units of used electronics (computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones) were generated in 2010, of which 171 million, or two-thirds, were collected.
To calculate how many electronics are generated (coming directly out of use or postuse storage destined for collection or disposal via landfill or incineration), we followed the sales obsolescence approach. The sales of new products are combined with estimates of the life spans of products to estimate which year a product will be generated. We used previous studies as well as detailed user surveys to find the probability that an item would be used for a certain number of years.
After that, we used a set of several representative user surveys spanning from 2005 to 2012 to estimate how many products are collected versus how many are sent for disposal.
Dearth of data
Global interest in the exportation of used electronics has increased in the last 10 years. Certification schemes for used electronics processors have emerged in the U.S., which vary in their allowance or prohibition of certain exports.
The U.S. federal government’s Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship compiled a National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship in July 2011. One of the proposed efforts to “Reduce Harm from U.S. Exports of E-Waste and Improve Safe Handling of Used Electronics in Developing Countries” was to “improve information on trade flows and handling of used electronics and share data with federal and international agencies, within the limits of federal authorities.” This study is in alignment with that goal.
Despite growing interest and concern surrounding this topic, there is a dearth of data. Although a multitude of different data sources exist, coherent sets of information on used electronics and their movement are lacking because of inherent challenges in obtaining such information. These challenges include limited mechanisms for data collection, lack of consistent definitions for categorizing and labeling used electronics and components, lack of consistent definitions and lack of knowledge of downstream processing and uses (i.e., reuse versus recycling), minimal regulatory oversight and illicit actors operating in the system.
Recently, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) reported results from a mandatory survey of many actors in the used electronics reverse supply chain. Based on 5,200 survey responses focusing on the year 2011, conclusions were made regarding the fate of many types of electronics and their component and material derivatives.
The study also briefly analyzed shipment level trade data from 2011, though used-new thresholds were not developed yet at that time.
Exploring export data
Currently, the trade codes used for electronics around the world do not distinguish between new and used electronics. After briefly exploring the available U.S. aggregate electronics trade data and discovering that such clear gaps did not exist, our team initially assessed that using the trade data would involve a low amount of effort but also yield low information quality. Therefore, the collected trade data approach was not recommended in our summary report.
We did, however, also review the uncertainty, representativeness, availability and cost of bill of lading (BOL) data, which detail every export shipment. We estimated that it would require a moderate amount of effort and yield moderate quality data. With detailed data, either the description of the product would reveal its “used” status or its low unit value could infer it.
The trouble with the available BOL data sets was that they were incomplete and, therefore, could not meet our goal of scaling to the national level. Complete shipment-level data sets are restricted for confidentiality and require an extensive review process to access.
Determined to see if we could find alternative trade data sets that would reveal similar findings as the BOL data, we engaged in discussions with officials responsible for the recording and dissemination of trade data and searched the Web for data sets for purchase. Fortunately, we found that a combination of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division’s USA Trade Online port-level data and district-level data obtained from http://sicex.com could yield detailed data suitable for distinguishing used electronics from overall exports.
Pros and cons
One comparative advantage of the trade data approach is that it tracks the destinations of shipped products. There are two types of exports: domestic exports, which originate in the export country, and re-exports, which are imported from a partner country and typically change hands before being exported once again. We assumed that U.S. used electronics are in the domestic exports category.
Still, the destination in the trade data may be an initial stopping point, and the products may then be re-exported to a final destination; re-exports and final destinations are not always reported in trade data. However, if it is a stopping point before re-export, the final destination is likely in the same region.
A disadvantage of using trade data is that any intentional or unintentional misclassifications of exported items cannot be estimated. Therefore, as previously mentioned, the results from these methods should be considered lower-bound estimates since there are likely whole units of used electronics that are exported using other trade codes either to avoid tariffs or import restrictions.
Used from new
With a histogram of domestic exports comparing their unit value to quantity, the exports with a lower value than the used-new threshold are deemed to be “used.”
We developed three methods to find the used-new thresholds applicable for exports to each world region. Throughout our study, we sought to capture the uncertainty in our estimates and used several methods to compare one against the others. The first two methods employed a mathematical algorithm to find the valley between the used and new exports in U.S. and Chinese (because of its position as an exporter of new electronics) export data. The third method looked to market data and past studies to find the price point separating new and used electronics. For example, laptop prices set by suppliers on the website Amazon.com in August 2012 revealed a used-new threshold of approximately $220.
To enhance and expand the use of trade data to provide insights into U.S. exports of used electronics, we recommend that trade codes be adopted first in the U.S. and then worldwide that distinguish classes of used electronics. Countries such as Japan already have taken steps toward establishing distinct trade codes. In parallel, if researchers could have easier access to shipment level data, the quality of their estimates would be improved because the data available for analysis would be more detailed with access to such information.
Since there is and will continue to be uncertainty regarding the complex trade of used electronics, multiple approaches should be undertaken and compared. A nice complement to the trade data method would be more extensive, audited data sets provided by the used electronics processing industry itself. This way, reported output destinations from the electronics recycling and refurbishment industry could be contrasted with the available trade data to provide a more certain estimate range.
Tracking the data over time could reveal how various policies and practices influence trends in the global destinations for used electronics recovered in the U.S. as well as provide valuable insight to a wide variety of stakeholders.
Click here for additional Electronics recycling charts.
The summary of the study “Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics Analysis of Generation, Collection and Export in the United States” was submitted on behalf of its authors, Jeremy Gregory, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Materials Systems Lab (MIT MSL) research assistant, email@example.com; T. Reed Miller, an MIT MSL research associate, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Jason Linnell, executive director at the Parkersburg, W.Va.-based National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER), email@example.com.
Portable, flexible, time-efficient and more exacting. These are just of few of the themes that seem to be common to many of the latest equipment and new product launches over the past year.
Taking stock of some of the most recent introductions and product innovations, equipment manufacturers seem to be intent on offering products and systems that can offer more utility, either with flexibly designed features, more appropriate capacities or the ability to perform a multitude of tasks with one piece of equipment.
Some of the latest product launches also mirror the changing recycling economy, which today seems more focused on higher quality final products that have been upgraded to new levels.
What follows is a rundown of some of these innovations, released over the past year, and designed to capitalize on the industry’s latest demands and concerns.
Bunting separation conveyors
Bunting Magnetics Co., Newton, Kan., has introduced a new line of high-intensity separation conveyors designed to provide extremely high magnetic fields, enabling removal of lightly magnetic tramp metal fines.
The high-intensity magnetic fields also separate work-hardened 300-series stainless steel from the material stream, increasing separation effectiveness for medical waste as well as for automotive and electronic scrap, Bunting says. The conveyor’s frames are constructed of 300-series stainless steel.
The unit’s urethane belts help to maximize magnetic field exposure to the material being conveyed, Bunting says.
Optional vibratory feeder trays also are available for use with the conveyors.
Visit www.buntingmagnetics.com for more information.
Danieli Centro Recycling deduster
Italy-based Danieli Centro Recycling has installed a new, patented system designed to clean gas and to control volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at automobile shredding facilities. The solution achieves project targets, with total VOC emissions lower than 5 milligrams (mg) per cubic nanometer (Nm3), according to the equipment supplier.
The shredding facility that commissioned Danieli’s system treats a variety of scrap, including compacted end-of-life vehicles.
Danieli’s technology involves controlling VOCs using a bed of activated carbon and processing the primary air flow from the shredder together with a secondary flow from the air separation equipment installed at the fluff separator. The primary fumes are dedusted with a cyclone and then a wet scrubber, the company says. The secondary flow is prefiltered with a bag filter and heated by an external fuel burner prior to mixing with the primary air flow (from the shredder). Because the temperature of the mixed flow is higher than ambient temperature, condensation in the carbon bed is prevented.
The advantage of this technology, according to Danieli, is that a free flame can be used to heat only the secondary flow of air, which does not contain VOCs. The flow rate of air treated by the activated carbon bed does not increase significantly because the secondary flow is only one fraction (about one-fifth) of the primary flow.
The combination of the lines is economically favorable because only one induced draft fan and one stack instead of two are needed, according to Danieli. Furthermore, the company says this technology allows for the abatement of VOCs where other approaches, such as oxidation or direct treatment of the primary air flow, would not be viable. Visit www.danieli-centro-recycling.com for details.
Eriez Metal Loss Monitor
New from Eriez, Erie, Pa., is the Metal Loss Monitor (MLM), an automatic analytical device designed to help recyclers determine the quantity of metals passing through scrap yard operations unrecovered. According to Eriez, the MLM continually scans the residue stream for metal that has escaped the process and is headed for landfill disposal. It can also alert operations managers remotely via text message when metal has been detected.
Users have the ability to monitor the performance of their systems for variations over time, allowing managers to be alerted to maintenance issues or adjustment requirements, Eriez says.
The MLM can be positioned upstream to provide hand-picking assistance, or downstream to track system or picking performance. Metal that passes the monitor produces an audible signal, and the event is recorded in a data file. An optional ink marker system allows the MLM to alert pickers of locations to search for lost metal.
This device is designed to be installed easily on conveyor belts after separation equipment, where it scans the waste stream to serve as a final or intermediate gauge to monitor and measure metal loss in shredder residue or fluff streams, Eriez says. Metals counts are logged for predetermined time intervals and the information is sent wirelessly to Eriez’s secured remote data portal.
More information is available at http://en-us.eriez.com/products/metallossmonitor.
General Kinematics Para-Mount IV feeders
General Kinematics (GK), Crystal Lake, Ill., has introduced the Para-Mount IV to its line of vibratory feeders. The company says the Para-Mount IV is designed to negate surge loads as well as to improve the presentation of auto shredder residue (ASR) and other mixed materials streams for metals recovery.
The Para-Mount IV high-stroke feeder is engineered for metals recovery and to improve metals separation from nonmetallics, according to GK. The high stroke transmits more energy to the ASR and features a thicker trough with an integral acceleration plate.
The IV uses two-thirds less horsepower than many other vibratory feeders, the company says.
Visit www.generalkinematics.com for more information.
Redwave three-way glass sorting machines
Available from Redwave Systems of Austria are the new CX and CXF sensor-based glass sorting machines, offering two- and three-way sorting technology for recycled glass processing. The sorters can process container and float glass from 2 millimeters (mm) to 50 mm in size for a variety of sorting tasks.
The company says the machines can recognize a variety of glass types that have no distinguishing features in the RGB (red-green-blue) color range. Other benefits include reduced air consumption, a compact design and fewer sorting steps without loss of quality or yield, Redwave says.
For more information, visit www.redwave.at.
Saturn Grizzly Super 80 grinder
Available from Granutech-Saturn Systems, based in Grand Prairie, Texas, is the new Super 80 (S-80) Saturn Grizzly grinder.
The company says the S-80 is designed as a medium-speed, stage-two grinder providing efficient, high performance size reduction of industrial scrap, such as tires, rubber scrap, cable scrap, nonferrous metals, biomass, plastics and e-scrap.
According to Granutech, the S-80 is designed for customers who need to process at higher volumes while making a smaller product. It features a new knife and rotor design, the company adds, that works exceptionally well on tires.
Granutech says the S-80 offers an unprecedented capacity of 10 tons per hour in rubber scrap recycling applications, the greatest production capacity for tire recycling of any product on the market, allowing recyclers to potentially match theirgrinding capacity with their shredding capacity in a single machine.
Mike Hinsey, international vice president for Granutech, says the S-80 features several design and performance enhancements from the company’s original Model 80 Grizzly grinder, including an updated knife design, more power and more torque.
The company says the S-80 Grizzly features a single rotor design and application-configurable screens for exact size reduction. By producing smaller, more consistent material, the Saturn S-80 Grizzly improves the performance of downstream equipment or can replace it entirely, the company says.
Additional features include housing liner plates, a two-piece screen design, easy-opening upper hopper, multiedge reusable knives and service platforms and handrails.
The company says staff members will work with customers to design solutions that meet their exact application and processing requirements.
Visit www.granutech.com for more information.
Sennebogen Equilibrium handlers
Sennebogen of Straubing, Germany, has launched the Equilibrium EQ line of balanced material handling machines. EQ material handlers are built to maintain a constant equilibrium via the classic lever principle, Sennebogen says. As such they are designed to offer the highest level of energy efficiency, with operating and energy cost savings of up to 75 percent compared with conventional drive solutions, the company says. The handler’s low energy consumption also results in low operating costs, the company says.
The material handler can be controlled with just two cylinders, Sennebogen says. A counterweight compensates for the weight of the equipment plus the grab and ensures an effective transmission of force, the company says.
Various models and size ranges are available, and EQ handlers also are available for crawler, rail and stationary applications. EQ models are available with diesel engines and electro-hydraulic drive. The unit may also be able to handle the work of two comparable mobile machines, Sennebogen says.
Visit www.sennebogen.com for more information.
Steinert mobile separation plants
New from Steinert US, Walton, Ky., is a series of mobile processing plants for recycling applications. The Steinert mobile series is designed to provide precise recovery anywhere a power source and fairly level ground can be found, the company says. Included in the lineup is Steinert’s CoarseMaster, FinesMaster, ISS induction system and its NES eddy current systems.
The CoarseMaster is suitable for processing material sized between 0.5 inch and 5 inches and offers a flexible combination for ferrous and nonferrous recovery. The full-scale production unit features a single-stage ferrous preseparator designed with a small footprint and easy maintenance access.
Steinert’s FinesMaster is designed as a complete solution for metal separation of fines material sized between 0.13 inch and 2 inches. This unit features a dual-stage ferrous preseparator, built-in loading station and wide tuning flexibility, the company says.
The Steinert ISS induction system is an all-metal sorter that is offered in several configurations for different applications. The ISS features a built-in compressed air filter and drying system.
Steinert says its NES mobile eddy current is designed as an affordable nonferrous recovery solution, offered in multiple configurations for material sized between 0.13 inch up to 10 inches.
Visit www.steinertus.com for more information.
TSC Portable 6060 Little Rascal shredder system
New from The Shredder Co., Canutillo, Texas, is the portable 6060 Little Rascal top and bottom discharge (TBD) shredder system. The company reports this new shredder offers a tilt table and feed system with 40-degree feed ramp.
The shredder features a single-feed roll with hydraulic drive and PLC (programmable logic controller) Smart Shredder System (SSS), casting design and rotor design. The 6060 Little Rascal also includes a ferrous separation system.
Shredder drives for the portable 6060 are offered in sizes from 500 horsepower to 2,000 horsepower with capacities of 10 tons per hour to 60 tons per hour.
The Little Rascal 6060 is completely portable and designed for trailer transport, according to The Shredder Co.
Visit www.theshredderco.com for more information.
UNTHA Assay Shredder
UNTHA Shredding Technology America Inc., Hampton, N.H., has released the RS Series assay shredder to its line of shredding equipment. The assay shredder has been designed and built with electronics recycling and smelting businesses in mind.
UNTHA Shredding Technology America is a division of Austria-based UNTHA Shredding Technology GmbH.
The company says the RS Series assay shredder is optimized for use within the electronic scrap industry, such as by companies that extract and refine precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum and nickel from used circuit boards.
“The assay shredder is useful to companies on both sides of the equation,” says Charles Hildebrand, UNTHA regional sales manager. “It aids companies selling electronic scrap, allowing them to determine in advance the worth of the material they are selling. And, it is a resource for companies buying electronic scrap, letting them accurately measure the amount of precious metals in a batch of materials.”
Hildebrand says the RS Assay Shredder can shred electronic scrap to a size of 10 millimeters, helping recyclers ascertain the value available in a particular shipment. UNTHA says the RS shredder is hardened to this application, with extra durability built into essential areas to minimize downtime.
UNTHA also says its RS assay shredder offers high reliability and low dust generation.
Visit www.untha-america.com for more information.
U.S. Shredder 6060 nonferrous shredder
U.S. Shredder and Castings Group, Trussville, Ala., has introduced the 6060, a new heavy-duty nonferrous shredder.
U.S. Shredder says the 6060 is designed specifically to liberate nonferrous metals to enable maximum recovery from eddy current systems and other nonferrous separation technologies.
The shredder has been designed to process 25 tons per hour using a 1,000-horsepower DC drive. The shredder also features a unique three-anvil design and round grate holes designed to provide optimal separation and a uniformed shredded product, according to U.S. Shredder.
The company says processors have been looking for a nonferrous metal shredder that can hold up to heavier infeed material than lighter hammermill shredders can withstand. However, low-speed, high-torque shredders would simply rip the material, U.S. Shredder says, leaving much of the nonferrous metals still attached and not ready for separation by the eddy current separator.
Information is available from Chris Melenick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zimmer America STF-LS label scraper
Zimmer America Corp., Cowpens, S.C., has introduced the STF-LS label scraper, which is manufactured by STF Group of Germany. The label scraper is designed to provide dry removal of labels from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) postconsumer bottles.
Zimmer America says the STF-LS provides 95 percent removal of labels and full-body sleeves from PET bottles with minimal damage to bottles and without the loss of necks and caps.
The device is equipped with hardened knife tips that are adjustable for different bottle sizes and throughputs, according to Zimmer America. The company also says the knife tips are durable and provide long wear life between changes.
Label and film pieces can be separated using a ballistic separator or simple suction device for 100 percent recovery, according to the company.
Visit www.zimmer-usa.com for more information.
The author is a managing editor with the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached via email at email@example.com.