News from Recycling Today
Cambridge, Massachusett-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undergraduate students have found that, by exposing plastic flakes to small, harmless doses of gamma radiation, then pulverizing the flakes into a fine powder, they can mix the plastic with cement paste to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete.
Concrete is, after water, the second most widely used material on the planet. The manufacturing of concrete generates about 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. Replacing even a small portion of concrete with irradiated plastic could thus help reduce the cement industry’s global carbon footprint.
Reusing plastics as concrete additives could also redirect old water and soda bottles, the bulk of which would otherwise end up in a landfill.
“There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year,” says Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. “Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.”
The team includes Carolyn Schaefer ’17 and MIT senior Michael Ortega, who initiated the research as a class project; Kunal Kupwade-Patil, a research scientist in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Anne White, an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Oral Büyüköztürk, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Carmen Soriano of Argonne National Laboratory; and Short. The new paper appears in the journal Waste Management.
“This is a part of our dedicated effort in our laboratory for involving undergraduates in outstanding research experiences dealing with innovations in search of new, better concrete materials with a diverse class of additives of different chemistries,” says Büyüköztürk, who is the director of Laboratory for Infrastructure Science and Sustainability. “The findings from this undergraduate student project open a new arena in the search for solutions to sustainable infrastructure.”
An idea, crystallized
Schaefer and Ortega began to explore the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of 22.033 (Nuclear Systems Design Project), in which students were asked to pick their own project.
“They wanted to find ways to lower carbon dioxide emissions that weren’t just, ‘let’s build nuclear reactors,’” Short says. “Concrete production is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, and they got to thinking, ‘how could we attack that?’ They looked through the literature, and then an idea crystallized.”
The students learned that others have tried to introduce plastic into cement mixtures, but the plastic weakened the resulting concrete. Investigating further, they found evidence that exposing plastic to doses of gamma radiation makes the material’s crystalline structure change in a way that the plastic becomes stronger, stiffer, and tougher. Would irradiating plastic actually work to strengthen concrete?
To answer that question, the students first obtained flakes of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) — plastic material used to make water and soda bottles — from a local recycling facility. Schaefer and Ortega manually sorted through the flakes to remove bits of metal and other debris. They then walked the plastic samples down to the basement of MIT’s Building 8, which houses a cobalt-60 irradiator that emits gamma rays, a radiation source that is typically used commercially to decontaminate food.
“There’s no residual radioactivity from this type of irradiation,” Short says. “If you stuck something in a reactor and irradiated it with neutrons, it would come out radioactive. But gamma rays are a different kind of radiation that, under most circumstances, leave no trace of radiation.”
The team exposed various batches of flakes to either a low or high dose of gamma rays. They then ground each batch of flakes into a powder and mixed the powders with a series of cement paste samples, each with traditional Portland cement powder and one of two common mineral additives: fly ash (a byproduct of coal combustion) and silica fume (a byproduct of silicon production). Each sample contained about 1.5 percent irradiated plastic.
Once the samples were mixed with water, the researchers poured the mixtures into cylindrical molds, allowed them to cure, removed the molds, and subjected the resulting concrete cylinders to compression tests. They measured the strength of each sample and compared it with similar samples made with regular, nonirradiated plastic, as well as with samples containing no plastic at all.
They found that, in general, samples with regular plastic were weaker than those without any plastic. The concrete with fly ash or silica fume was stronger than concrete made with just Portland cement. And the presence of irradiated plastic strengthened the concrete even further, increasing its strength by up to 20 percent compared with samples made just with Portland cement, particularly in samples with high-dose irradiated plastic.
The concrete road ahead
After the compression tests, the researchers went one step further, using various imaging techniques to examine the samples for clues as to why irradiated plastic yielded stronger concrete.
The team took their samples to Argonne National Laboratory and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) at MIT, where they analyzed them using X-ray diffraction, backscattered electron microscopy, and X-ray microtomography. The high-resolution images revealed that samples containing irradiated plastic, particularly at high doses, exhibited crystalline structures with more cross-linking, or molecular connections. In these samples, the crystalline structure also seemed to block pores within concrete, making the samples more dense and therefore stronger.
“At a nano-level, this irradiated plastic affects the crystallinity of concrete,” Kupwade-Patil says. “The irradiated plastic has some reactivity, and when it mixes with Portland cement and fly ash, all three together give the magic formula, and you get stronger concrete.”
“We have observed that within the parameters of our test program, the higher the irradiated dose, the higher the strength of concrete, so further research is needed to tailor the mixture and optimize the process with irradiation for the most effective results,” Kupwade-Patil says. “The method has the potential to achieve sustainable solutions with improved performance for both structural and nonstructural applications.”
Going forward, the team is planning to experiment with different types of plastics, along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. For now, they have found that substituting about 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic can significantly improve its strength. While that may seem like a small fraction, Short says, implemented on a global scale, replacing even that amount of concrete could have a significant impact.
“Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” Short says. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”
“This research is a perfect example of interdisciplinary multiteam work toward creative solutions, and represents a model educational experience,” Büyüköztürk says.]]>
The legislation would require motorists, when they approach a stationary vehicle displaying flashing, oscillating or rotating lights, to proceed with caution and yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be unsafe or impossible.
Slow Down to Get Around is a nationwide campaign by the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, and its state chapters. In all states, NWRA encourages motorists to be aware of the roadside dangers facing waste and recycling collection workers.
This effort was led by Sen. Frank LaRose (R), chairman of the Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee. The legislation now goes to the Ohio state House of Representatives for consideration.
“We applaud the Ohio Senate for putting the safety of our employees first. Our industry is dedicated to making it safer for our drivers and this legislation is an important step forward,” Waste Management’s Kathy Trent says.
The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the waste and recycling collection occupation ranks fifth in the nation for fatal work injury rates. Recent data shows that many accidents involving waste and recycling collection workers are caused by inattentive motorists or distracted driving.
“Currently 16 states that have enacted Slow Down to Get Around laws, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. We are encouraged by the vote in the state senate that Ohio will become the 17th state,” Peggy Macenas, (NWRA’s) director for the Midwest region, says.
MBDA partnered with the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (NMSDC) to host the 2017 NMSDC Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange Oct. 22-25 in Detroit, which is where MBDA announced the awards, which recognized 15 businesses leaders, advocates and minority business enterprises (MBEs).
PTS was founded in 2002 and provides recycled-content materials. The thermoplastics resin processor and compounder says it strives to bring new value to the postindustrial and postconsumer plastics recycling industry and to process as much scrap domestically as possible, working with generators to transform their scrap into valuable raw materials. PTS provides services to the second- and third-tier suppliers to the automotive, appliance and home care/lawn care markets.
Sharad Thakkar, president of PTS, says he is “elated” about the award.
“To get selected nationally as Energy Firm of the Year is a great honor,” he adds. “This is also a great joy for all our 40 loyal employees that our administration is with us in our quest. The award gives a strong encouragement that our government cares and appreciates efforts to ‘Keep America Green,’ Thakkar says.
He adds that it “has been very challenging to do recycling profitably” given the drop in oil prices and the increase in domestic labor costs. “The award encourages PTS and several other such companies to keep working hard and invest more into the business.”
The 2017 National MED Week winners were recognized by MBDA Acting National Director Christopher Garcia during the NMSDC Power Breakfast Oct. 23 in Detroit. They also were invited to attend a National MED Week award’s ceremony held at the White House Oct. 24.
The full list of the 2017 National MED Week winners is available at www.mbda.gov/news/press-releases/2017/10/mbda-announces-2017-national-med-week-award-winners.]]>
3rd Eye, an industry leader in vehicle safety camera and radar solutions, says it has developed technology that digitally interprets chassis and body system inputs and communicates this information in real time through 3rd Eye’s Hurricane Gateway. In addition, 3rd Eye camera data can be transmitted through the gateway, allowing Leck to view and report on situational inputs immediately.
“I believe that moving forward, our fleet would be utilizing Enhanced VBA because it is a necessity more than a luxury,” says Jason Leck, vice president, Leck Waste Services. “Enhance gives us the ability to have an in-depth look of our fleet and allows us to be more profitable against a competitor in a marketplace where there are very little margins.”
Founded in 1971, Leck Waste Systems operates more than 35 commercial vehicles ranging from commercial rear loaders and front loaders to roll-offs. The company also offers compactor, baler, shredding and portable toilet service.
Darrick Reed, president of 3rd Eye, says, “From route efficiencies to asset management to predictive maintenance, 3rd Eye’s Enhance VBA allows fleet owners to better manage their fleet, more efficiently facilitate route collection as well as receive real-time feedback from the vehicle regarding predictive diagnostics. This allows us to better schedule fleet maintenance and reduces our asset downtime.”
“With 3rd Eye’s Enhance VBA, I can respond much faster to service requests as well as validate proof of service in real time,” Leck says. “But it also lets me know how the body systems are performing in concert with the chassis. My operations manager uses this information to schedule maintenance. It’s like the vehicle is talking to me and telling me how it’s feeling. It’s a game changer.”
Downers Grove, Illinois-based Dover’s 3rd Eye was formed in 2001. The company provides real-time vehicle function/route performance analytics and uses camera systems to capture and document in-cab and external events to improve the safety, reliability and profitability of collection fleet operations.]]>
EuPC launched its survey Europe’s plastics converting industry in May 2017. Survey questions focused on the current and future use of rPM. In the five-month survey period some 485 participants from 28 different countries filled in an online questionnaire.
A report on the results of the survey has been published in October 2017 in cooperation with Polymer Comply Europe Sarl. (PCE), which conducted the survey on behalf of EuPC. The report provides insight into the current state of affairs regarding the use of rPM by plastics converting companies, and EuPC says it has been designed to “provide valuable information for authorities and organizations as well as companies throughout the whole plastics value chain.”
Some of the survey’s findings include:
- The quality of rPM remains the biggest barrier to a stronger use of recyclables as raw materials. Almost 60 percent of European plastics converting companies surveyed say they find it hard or very had to get a supply of rPM in an acceptable quality.
- Customers of converting companies may not support the use of rPM well enough. Only 27 percent of converting companies surveyed said their customers are sufficiently aware of the benefits and needs to use rPM.
- The current regulatory framework needs to be adapted to adequately support the use of rPM. Almost 60 percent of those surveyed indicated current regulations are not suitable to support a stronger use of rPM in the future.
The survey is part of a larger initiative of EuPC to gain more knowledge about the use of rPM in the plastics converting industry. Further surveys and workshops with national plastics associations are expected to follow in 2018 and beyond, says the group.
All EuPC members and participating companies will receive the detailed report on the results of the survey. Other interested parties can acquire the report by registering on the Polymer Comply Europe website.]]>
Untha says its shredder is capable of processing these materials down to a homogenous 15-millimeter particle size (slightly larger than one-half inch), with the ability to handle 1 metric ton of material per hour.
Working predominantly with other waste and recycling companies that find the complexity of some WEEE materials a headache, UK Plug Recycling buys materials that may otherwise be lost from the resource loop. They are then prepared for established plastics and metals recyclers, many of them within a 30-mile radius of the new facility.
“I first had the idea for UK Plug Recycling around six years ago, when I was working for another waste contractor,” says Justin Beverley, founder and managing director of the firm. “I identified that items like sockets and small-scale WEEE are commonly perceived as too much like hard work for many industry operators, so they simply end up in the ground. I therefore suggested that we offer a specialist service in that respect. Despite rigorous market research, my boss, at the time, didn’t believe the proposal was commercially viable.”
Beverley was not deterred. “Last year, I began exploring the opportunity myself. Fast forward to the spring of 2017 and I’d secured financial backing. I already knew the equipment I wanted for the operation, having visited Untha UK’s North Yorkshire headquarters and the Austrian manufacturing facility, when my research first began. Everything has moved quite quickly from there.”
Beverley has worked with the Untha team to refine his shredding process and begin penetrating the market. “UNTHA UK’s support from concept to installation – and beyond – has proven incredibly valuable as we’ve gathered traction,” he comments.
Already looking ahead to what might be next, he is now on the lookout for additional downstream equipment that will further enhance the sophistication and revenue yield potential of the new processing line.
“We truly do have a ‘green’ agenda,” says Beverley. “We obviously need to make enough money to survive, but this isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. It’s about harnessing the value of something that many other companies are overlooking, because it’s the right thing to do.]]>
Plastic film’s growth can be attributed to improvements in stretch wrapping machinery and equipment, enhanced resin properties, and the increasing market share of more cost-effective products, according to the research firm.
Each of these developments has opened new markets for which stretch film was previously considered ill-suited, such as machinery and building materials that are heavy or irregularly shaped. These and other trends are presented in “Stretch & Shrink Film Market in the U.S., 5th Edition,” the study available from The Freedonia Group.
Stretch hoods will see the fastest growth of any stretch film product, advancing at 8.4% percent annually through 2021. Gains for this product are being driven by increased investment in hooding machinery that has expanded applicability to roofing, tiles and bricks, appliances and bulk warehouse packaging. A ceiling on this market remains, however, as these applications are still more limited than other stretch film products.
The storage and distribution market is by far the largest for stretch film, accounting for 71 percent of total demand in 2016.The Freedonia Group says stretch film is the preferred medium in this market because of its cost competitiveness and advantages over alternatives like strapping.
The 159-page “Stretch & Shrink Film Market in the US, 5th Edition “study is available for $5,200 from The Freedonia Group, which can be contacted at email@example.com.]]>
This system will be capable of processing more than 75,000 metric tons per year of recycled material from the Montreal single-stream curbside collection. With its 35 metric tons per hour capacity, this MRF will include Machinex’ technologies, including three optical sorters for fibers and four optical sorters for plastic containers.
A bag extractor system developed by Machinex also will be installed, as well as two eddy current separators and two single-ram balers. This system will not have rubber disc screens, but rather a cardboard separator (metal discs) and three MACH Ballistic separators, which are designed for less maintenance than conventional screens.
As part of this new material recovery facility, Éco Entreprise Québec (ÉEQ), Quebec, will donate a complete glass sorting and cleaning system, the equipment being provided by Machinex and U.K.-based Krysteline Technologies.
‘’We are very proud to be part of this large-scale project so close from our location. We designed a system that will meet the immediate and future needs of Montreal, thus helping its recycling objectives,’’ says Sébastien Roy, project director at Machinex.
Gilbert Durocher, president of La Compagnie de recyclage de papiers MD Inc., says, ‘’ When we decided to submit a bid on this project, our choice was immediately directed towards Machinex since they are a long-term trusted partner. We knew that they would be able to deliver a performing MRF with the most advanced technologies and that we can count on a quick and professional service.”
In the early 1980s, Machinex says it became the first company in Canada to design machinery for material recycling facilities, establishing itself as a leader in designing profitable and high-quality recycling sorting systems. Today it has continued to develop sorting, waste management and recycling technology. Over the years, its team has designed and installed more than 350 turnkey facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and Oceania.]]>
Montréal-based Kruger Inc. has announced it has dedicated its paper machine No. 10 (PM10), a project that was completely rebuilt to manufacture 100 percent recycled lightweight and high-strength linerboard at its Trois-Rivières mill.
Kruger invested $250 million in this project. Well before work got under way, Kruger says its engineers toured numerous manufacturing plants in North America and Europe to find the best technology for manufacturing 100 percent recycled lightweight and high-strength linerboard “of the best possible quality.”
Commercialized as XTR, the new linerboard grades manufactured on PM10 meet increasing demand for ultralight packaging without compromising on strength, performance or environmental footprint, according to Kruger.
PM10’s annual production will total 360,000 metric tons of XTR linerboard, an exclusive product that Kruger says is the first to manufacture in North America. A portion of the production will be used by Kruger’s packaging plants in LaSalle, Quebec, and Brampton, Ontario, while the remainder will be sold to packaging manufacturers across Canada and the United States.
Announced jointly by Kruger and the Government of Québec in September 2015, this $250-million project required some 500,000 hours of work over a 20-month period that ended in spring 2017 when the machine entered its startup phase, says the company. The project also consolidated 270 jobs at the Trois-Rivières mill, in addition to generating benefits for the Mauricie region and Québec, Kruger says. More than 80 local businesses were involved in the project. Of the total budget, approximately $40 million was spent with local suppliers and $60 million with suppliers elsewhere in Québec, Kruger says.
The company says several dignitaries and project partners were present at the PM10 dedication, including Luc Blanchette, Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks; Julie Boulet, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Mauricie region; Jean-Denis Girard, Member of the National Assembly for Trois-Rivières; and Gene Kruger, vice president, business development, Kruger Inc.
Kruger Packaging specializes in the manufacture of containerboard products and corrugated packaging made from 100 percent recycled fiber. The Montréal-based company was created in partnership with Kruger Inc. and Investissement Québec – acting as the Québec government’s agent – which has a 25% take in its assets. Kruger Packaging employs some 800 people, including more than 600 in Québec, and operates four production sites, namely the Trois-Rivières mill, the Place Turcot containerboard mill in Montreal, and the LaSalle and Brampton packaging plants.
Founded in 1904, Kruger Inc. is a major producer of publication and specialty papers, tissue products, containerboard and packaging made from recycled fibers, renewable energy, cellulosic biomaterials, and wines and spirits. The company also is a leader in paper and paperboard recycling in North America. Kruger has facilities in Québec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in Tennessee, Maine, New York, Virginia and Rhode Island.
Replacing a 1960s-era facility, the new station features new technology that reduces environmental impacts and improves customer service.
“I am committed to improving the efficiency and quality of the services we provide to county residents, and this new station delivers,” says King County Executive Dow Constantine. “In just one example, the new compactors at Factoria improved the efficiency of each trailer hauled from this station, which translates into fewer trucks on the road and reduced climate pollution.”
Located at 13800 SE 32nd St., Bellevue, the new facility offers a wide array of recycling services, including major appliances, yard waste, clean wood, scrap metal, commingled recyclables, textiles and more.
Additionally, a new household hazardous waste (HHW) facility allows customers a place to dispose of their HHW materials in an environmentally responsible way.
Garbage disposal services were not disrupted during the three-year reconstruction project, which included the demolition and removal of the old facility, the building of a new retention wall, and the installation of public art.
Recycling and garbage disposal services at Factoria are available Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. HHW disposal services are available Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
This redevelopment project moves the County ahead by bringing efficiencies and enhancing service. In addition to areas for recycling and HHW disposal, key features of the new solid waste transfer building include:
- A flat-floor design that allows for easier unloading of garbage, better traffic flow and expanded capacity that help reduce customer wait times; and
- Sustainable design features that improve energy efficiency, including translucent skylights and window panels that allow natural light into the building, rainwater harvesting, recycled content building materials such as steel, asphalt, and concrete, and landscaping with drought-tolerant plants.
King County operates eight transfer stations, two drop-boxes, the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, and many programs to help customers recycle. Learn more about the Solid Waste Division at kingcounty.gov/solidwaste.]]>
The systems feature recycling technology from BHS, Nihot and National Recovery Technologies (NRT). The supplier says the facility is designed for high performance, featuring five BHS Tri-Disc screens, six NRT optical sorters and a Nihot Single Drum Separator.
BHS says Suez invested in specialized technology to ensure its end products are highly marketable knowing that product quality is absolutely critical in today’s volatile commodity markets. For example, a BHS Debris Roll Screen breaks the incoming glass and removes the 50-millimeter fraction, which is processed through a Nihot Single Drum Separator to remove light contamination. The remaining glass-rich material passes through an NRT ColorPlus optical sorter to remove the remaining nonglass contamination, including paper and small pieces of ceramic, stone and porcelain, to leave a clean glass product. Paper purification is accomplished with NRT optical sorters, where the recently updated ColorPlus-R removes cardboard from the news stream and a SpydIR-R recovers flattened plastic from the mixed fiber stream. Designed to comply with the Scottish Government’s Code of Practice on Sampling and Reporting at Materials Recovery Facilities, the systems feature numerous belt scales to weigh inbound and outbound materials and automated labeling of outbound bales, BHS says.
“The quality of our commodities is more important now than it’s ever been,” says Tim Hughes, Suez project development manager. “The abundance of technology in our systems ensures that we’re able to meet or exceed our customers’ specifications. BHS has been a great partner from design onwards, as these systems surpass all of our throughput, recovery, purity and uptime expectations. The city of Aberdeen is in a great position to landfill significantly less while contributing to the circular economy and should be proud of its Council for making its vision a reality,” he adds.
“This MRF includes an abundance of new technology that is producing products that have exceptional quality,” BHS CEO Steve Miller says. “Employing NRT optical sorting on glass, news and mixed paper really sets the Aberdeen plant up for long-term success with regard to product quality. The recyclables leaving this facility are of the highest purity found anywhere in the industry, which is a testament to Suez’s commitment to excellence. We expect this MRF to be a top performer for Suez for years to come.”
In 2000, the Aberdeen City Council awarded Suez a 25-year contract to manage recycling, composting, treatment and disposal of the household waste for its residents, which now number more than 228,000 people. The £27 million ($35.7 million) project was developed to meet the goals set out in the Aberdeen City Waste Strategy and is in line with Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan, the latter of which includes a 70 percent recycling target by 2025.
BHS designs, engineers, manufactures and installs sorting systems and components for the solid waste, recycling, waste-to-energy and construction and demolition industries. Its wholly owned subsidiaries include Nihot (Amsterdam), NRT (Nashville, Tennessee) and Zero Waste Energy (Lafayette, California). BHS is also the originator of Max-AI technology, a form of artificial intelligence that is designed to identify materials, make intelligent decisions and direct equipment, such as robotic sorters.]]>
Many scrap recycling companies handle electrical or electronic components, directly or indirectly, including those that process computer and electronic equipment and household and industrial goods or those that process manufacturing scrap.
Recycled components can contain a range of metals with significant intrinsic value, but these may represent only a fraction of the components. Gold and other high-value metals often are surrounded by plastics or other materials, making sustainable recovery challenging.
Scrap yards in the U.S. today have little incentive to consider the ultimate fate of their products, but the dynamics of the recycling market already are changing that with advances in environmentally sound recycling of e-scrap and greater involvement of global manufacturers in sustainability.
The e-scrap opportunity
E-scrap recyclers perform a valuable function in reducing the ratio of plastics and other materials in the precious metals (PM) stream when they disassemble old computers and other nonworking equipment, removing drivers and power supplies from chassis and separating integrated circuits (ICs) and other components from circuit boards, for example. This can greatly improve the efficiency of thermal recycling operations.
As the U.S. moves to more hybrid and electric vehicles, automakers and suppliers, already interested in sustainability, could further stimulate the greening of end-of-product-life recycling. On conventional vehicles, spent catalytic converters, which depend on precious metal catalysts, already are targeted heavily for recycling, as are lithium-ion batteries and circuitry on electric vehicles.
E-scrap is a major opportunity, and components with a higher ratio of high-value metals produce the highest returns. High-density circuit boards always are worth more than simpler circuits. According to a report by Market Research Engine, Deerfield Beach, Florida, the value of e-scrap generated globally is projected to grow at about 23 percent per year, reaching more than $76 billion by 2022.
Manufacturers of mobile devices already offer direct recycling-exchange programs for customers, and manufacturers of other, especially smaller, consumer or household products could follow suit. Still, most e-scrap starts out mixed with other materials, so e-scrap value depends, in large part, on disassembly labor, material separation and downstream efficiency.
Upstream, many manufacturers already recycle scrap from production processes, especially residual materials containing valuable metals. High volumes of concentrated e-scrap containing PMs also are generated whenever aftermarket components, such as circuit boards or military replacement parts, exceed their rated shelf life and must undergo certified destruction. They also are generated in mass recalls of electronic products. Samsung, for example, heralded its responsible recycling policies in March after recalling 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7 phones last year.
The extent to which manufacturers of industrial and consumer goods take a hand in developing downstream recycling channels for high-value metals remains to be seen. But globally, e-scrap generation has been growing by more than 40 million tons per year for some time, according to a report from Market Research Engine, and the advent of more environmentally responsible methods that maximize recovery of PMs can help change the equation. It also can create new opportunities for e-scrap disassembly operations and those that want to focus on more energy-efficient, “greener” recycling.
Getting the best return
E-scrap is a dynamic stream of material and is best managed when recyclers and reclaimers work closely together to establish the most accurate, cost-efficient and safe methods to recover the valuable materials contained.
Generally, there are two main factors e-scrap recyclers will want to consider: economic, and environmental, health and safety (EHS).
On the economic front, this will largely depend on the volume, types and grades the recycler handles as well as available resources to manage the material. Firstly, segregation by grade is helpful as it provides for better tracking of yields produced by reclaimers. It also allows recyclers to supply the appropriate grade of material best suited to the processing capabilities of a reclaimer. Yet, while most industry professionals agree that 100 percent reclaim preparation (automated or manual separation) provides the most accurate results, the trade-off is that it is more costly. So where is the tipping point?
For most materials, the guideline is that e-scrap products with a gross combined value of precious metals and copper of at least $8 to $10 per pound are ideally suited for full reclaim processing. Materials with lower commodity value will be more cost-efficiently managed by a shredding and sampling or outright sale. Additionally, any extraneous material that can be removed upfront will produce two reclaim benefits: removal of heavy parts, such as steel shielding, aluminum heatsinks, transformers, etc., as well as wire and bulk plastics and packaging will reduce overall reclaim costs, and some of these can be recycled and traded as separate commodities.
Regarding EHS, this is always a central focus for reclaimers. Protection of employees, the environment, as well as process equipment is extremely important, and especially challenging in highly regulated, heavy- industrial environments that incorporate foundry, thermal reduction, chemical and mechanical processes. Reclaimers generally will ask many questions about the e-scraps’ constituent materials and may request samples to evaluate further before even accepting. Deleterious elements, such as beryllium, cadmium, mercury and others, are problematic for both employee and environmental exposures.
The reclaimer also will be evaluating how the processing of the material will impact EHS. For example, batteries and other sealed devices will pose a risk of explosion and toxic release in a thermal or shredding process. Those types of devices need to be removed and recycled or disposed responsibly. The more information the recycler can provide and address upfront, the less likely there will be added costs from surcharges, hazardous waste disposal or potential rejection and return of a shipment.
What’s at stake
Local availability of advanced thermal reduction services reduces the cost of recovering PMs while also helping to safeguard the environment. In contrast, shipping volumes of e-scrap halfway around the world for recycling is energy intensive, and the process can be laden with uncertainty. In developing countries and remote regions, e-scrap recyclers may operate with primitive methods and little government oversight. Without singling out any manufacturers, CBS News chronicled the practice of open burning of e-scrap in China on “60 Minutes,” available at www.cbsnews.com/news/following-the-trail-of-toxic-e-waste. Small-time operators cook printed circuit (PC) boards over open fires outdoors, and chemicals from extraction baths pollute the ground and water supply.
Uncontrolled combustion of e-scrap potentially can vaporize large quantities of semivolatile toxic compounds and produce halogenated organic pollutants, including dioxins and furans.
A laboratory study conducted by the University of Cincinnati and co-authored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detailed byproducts produced in the open burning of e-scrap. The PC board samples in the study, titled “Characterizing emissions from open burning of electronic waste using TG-GC-MS system,” started to decompose at 684 degrees Fahrenheit (362 degrees Celsius) and 775 F (413 C), respectively, and combustion produced a mixture of aromatic and aromatic amine organic compounds of C6-C16. Combustion of PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate, also known as acrylic or acrylic glass) cellphone casings and other plastic e-scrap were examined separately.
Although most plastics begin to melt at relatively low temperatures, combustion produces low-levels of acids, which should be captured and neutralized. In addition, thorough combustion is required to reduce or eliminate byproducts, such as benzene compounds. Yet at the same time, combustion processes must be controlled to avoid the high-temperature formation of toxic byproducts.
Most thermal recycling operations have been in place for years and rely on tray furnaces, and some may use afterburners as secondary treatment of combustion byproducts before discharge to the atmosphere. Operators often are reluctant to upgrade to cleaner or more efficient furnaces, which are subject to newer, more stringent environmental regulations.More responsible recycling
Gannon & Scott, however, continues to develop environmentally responsible thermal reduction processes. Throughout the past 98 years, the company has designed and built or upgraded more than a half dozen high-capacity thermal reduction units that operate with advanced process and pollution controls.
© Gannon & Scott The new thermal reduction unit at Gannon & Scott’s Rhode Island facility features advanced environmental controls and can recover high-value metals even from lower-grade scrap materials. We recently commissioned a three-stage thermal reduction unit at our Cranston, Rhode Island, facility. The TRu3Tec thermal reduction system is designed to operate at relatively low temperatures (about 1,400 to 1,500 F) to dramatically reduce the formation of hazardous byproducts. Plus, it features environmental and process controls to further reduce waste emissions. It is an enhancement of a similar system designed by Gannon & Scott for our metals recovery facility in Phoenix.
Pollution controls for the system include quenching, cyclonic separation, wet scrubbing of exhaust gases and dust collection. Both plants also are zero-discharge facilities for processing wastewater sludge and plating solutions.
For mixed products, such as circuit boards, that arrive at our facilities, any carbon-bearing organic compounds, plastics and combustibles, such as filters, will be destroyed in the thermal reduction process. Virtually no air emissions are produced because the system captures and treats combustion byproducts. Water-based scrubber solutions condition primary combustion byproducts so we do not discharge any harmful dioxins or furans to the atmosphere. We neutralize acids as a secondary part of the process. Our process evaporates water and treats residues internally so no hazardous waste is generated.
Most PM recovery operations talk about zero waste as goal. We are about as close to that goal as possible. All the scrap metal that comes from burnt circuit boards is sent to metal recyclers.
Even packaging materials and pallets are recycled. Almost the only waste that leaves our plant is from our cafeteria and a small amount of office waste.
Currently, about 70 to 80 percent of the residuals processed at our facilities come from manufacturers, primarily from electronics, automotive/aerospace, jewelry, minting and metal plating operations. The bulk of the remainder comes from end-of-life product recyclers, particularly e-scrap recyclers, and we expect this segment to grow with the economy and as the recycling industry expands and matures. The system also is used for certified destruction of obsolete electronic components. Sensitive materials subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) guidelines also are accepted for destruction.
We even generate electricity at our new Rhode Island facility, which features a 406-kilowatt DC, 40,000-square-foot solar array. Our goal is to deliver certifiable, tangible value for our customers, and intangible value with our environmentally responsible approach.
This is increasingly important to Fortune 500 companies and multinational corporations, and others with active sustainability policies. Our process not only greatly minimizes wastes and emissions, but we also are able to economically recover value even from material containing only a few percent of residual PMs.
Volume is key to value, especially at lower PM percentages. We regularly maximize recovery of residual PM value from wipes, gloves, spent jars of conductive pastes; cathodes and ion exchange resins used in plating operations; and even floor sweepings from manufacturers. Even difficult-to-handle silicone rubber with PMs can be processed. We help suppliers recover value from fabric waste impregnated with low levels of silver, cloth that would otherwise go to a landfill. In this case, we turn what would be a hazardous waste into a valuable return for the customer.
Such opportunities abound, and we believe new ones will emerge in the end-of-life e-recycling space. Enterprising recyclers can play an important role in identifying these opportunities and in creating win-win-win value for themselves, their customers and the environment.
Herbold says the HVT features a vertical rotor shaft, which ensures longer dwell time in the drying chamber and offers the added advantage of significant space savings versus horizontal systems. The refinement of the HVT’s internal geometry, including the rotor and housing, minimizes the occurrence of fines and allows for greater yield, according to the company.
HVT dryers operate on the principle of centrifugal drying. Material is accelerated against a screened stator surface and simultaneously transported from bottom to top by rotor paddles. Feeding is via a horizontal drainage screw, which eliminates most of the surface moisture before material enters the dryer, Herbold says.
Energy savings are achieved by a reduction in motor size. A typical one- or two-stage drying system for PET flakes with a 150-horsepower motor would yield a throughput of 2.5 to 3 tons per hour, Herbold said. An HVT system can equal that performance with a 75-horsepower drive motor.
The HVT’s housing features large doors to provide easy access to components, which is designed to simplify routine maintenance. Rotor paddles and screens can be changed quickly and easily, and the unit’s housing is equipped with strategically located replaceable wear plates.
The machines are available in standard or stainless steel configurations.
Herbold Meckesheim USA, a subsidiary of Herbold Meckesheim Germany, designs, manufactures and installs size-reduction equipment and wash-line systems for the plastics industry, specializing in the recycling of industrial and postconsumer plastics.]]>
Veolia currently provides industrial cleaning and hazardous materials management services from this location.
As industries, commercial businesses, communities and residents of Ontario prepare for provincial regulations banning lamps from landfill disposal by 2020, Veolia says its new lamp recycling facility provides a more sustainable, circular economy solution to responsibly manage these wastes within Canada.
“Our investment in this facility represents our commitment to finding better solutions for lighting and electronic waste as well as ways to minimize the impact of waste on our environment,” Boston-based Veolia North America President and CEO William J. “Bill” DiCroce says. “As technology improves, we’re able to break down and reclaim even more materials, especially hazardous materials, and prevent them from entering the waste stream.”
Veolia says it has been supporting the lamp recycling needs of Ontario as an approved processor for the Recycling Council of Ontario’s Take Back the Light program.
“Our Port Washington, Wisconsin, facility earned approved processor status in 2013,” says Bob Cappadona, president and COO of Veolia North America Environmental Solutions and Services and Industrial for Canada. “For the past four years, spent lamps gathered in Ontario have been transported to our recycling facility in Port Washington for disassembly, mercury recycling and glass and metal recovery.”
With the new Pickering facility, spent lamps will be processed in Ontario. Veolia has invested in equipment to crush and separate expired mercury-bearing lamps, including compact fluorescents, into three components: metal, glass and phosphor powder. Ninety-nine percent of the glass and metal will be recycled locally by Veolia. The mercury-bearing phosphor powder will be transported to Veolia’s Port Washington facility for retorting and recycling, the company says.
The positive environmental impact of processing the lamps within Canada is significant, Veolia says. By minimizing the transport of lamps into the United States, the company says it expects to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from diesel fuel usage by 796 metric tons per year.]]>
During a panel discussion moderated by BIR President Ranjit Singh Baxi, Robin Wiener, president of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), said the latest policy developments in China reflect a multi-pronged strategy published in July 2017, the goals of which include: prohibiting imports of solid waste that entail “major environmental hazards and intense public reaction” by the end of 2017; halting imports that can be replaced by domestic resources; greater customs enforcement; refinement of laws, regulations and related systems; and bolstering increased domestic recycling.
Wiener said self-sufficiency in scrap is “an important driver” for the Chinese government. She also said a proposed 0.3 percent contamination ceiling for imported materials constitutes “an effective ban” because, among recyclers she has spoken on this issue, “no one thinks they can meet that threshold.”
For the United States’ recycling sector, China’s actions have the potential to affect $ 6.5 billion of annual exports and 150,000 related jobs. Some U.S. municipalities have stopped accepting certain papers and plastics in their curbside collection programs, said Wiener, which she said has been “a big force for us in raising this issue with the U.S. government.” Meetings have already taken place with the White House and members of the U.S. Congress among others, she added.
Emmanuel Katrakis, the Secretary General of the Brussels-based European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC), said his organization’s response has included gathering information from members about the specific impacts of China’s policy so the European Commission can be armed with “hard data” when mounting its case.
IEC council members underlined the need for the global recycling industry to continue to work together on common arguments and to encourage the involvement of China’s manufacturers and consumers of imported secondary raw materials, with several contributors to the debate saying the import ban has the potential to be highly damaging to China’s own businesses.
BIR Director General Arnaud Brunet focused on the lessons that must be learned from recent policy developments in China, calling on national recycling associations to watch for “signals” of similar changes taking place in other countries, “because we have to be ready,” he stressed.
Governments need to be shown the benefits of partnering with recycling industry professionals, said Brunet, adding, “because we have good practices; we are the good guys.” Brunet is scheduled to travel to China in November, where he hopes to meet key officials and to gain an understanding of “the next step” and “where they are going.”
Michael Lion, president of Hong Kong-based metals trading firm Everwell Resources, and chair of BIR’s International Trade Council, emphasized that China’s President Xi Jinping has taken “a very personal interest” in the improvement of the country’s environment. The challenge for recycling industry representatives, he said, is to gain access to people “at the highest political level” within China and to explain “in a helpful and respectful way” how the recycling industry can work with them to a solution that is “commercially and socially advantageous to them.”
In reviewing BIR activities at the level of intergovernmental organizations, its trade and environment director Ross Bartley said a UNEP-Basel Convention Expert Working Group is in the process of reviewing various annexes of the Convention that have relevance to scrap materials. BIR is “in a good position” regarding this debate, not least because it has “engagement in the Expert Working Group,” he added.]]>
Mexico and Brazil, the region’s largest steelmakers, are among the nations that have led the resurgence, with Brazil’s crude steel output on pace to rise in 2017 by 9.1 percent and Mexico’s by 7.5 percent, based on statistics through the first three quarters of the year.
Figures released in late October by Worldsteel for the first nine months of the year show South America’s steel output has climbed by 8.0 percent compared to the same period in 2016.
Joining Brazil in increased output are Argentina with an 8.9 percent rise and Peru with a 6.7 percent increase.
In North America, steelmakers have produced 3.5 percent more crude steel so far in 2017 compared to the first three quarters of 2016. However, Mexico is outpacing that average with its 7.5 percent gain, while United States production is up by 3.1 percent and Canada’s output has risen by just 1.3 percent.
Latin American nations with decreased output so far in 2017 include the cash-starved socialist states of Venezuela (down 9.4 percent) and Cuba (down by 12.6 percent).
By volume so far in 2017, Brazil is Latin America’s biggest steelmaker with nearly 25.5 million metric tons produced, followed by Mexico with nearly 15 million metric tons of output and Argentina in a distant third with nearly 3.4 million metric tons.
Argentina enjoyed a particularly strong September 2017, with its monthly output rising by 28.2 percent compared to September 2016. Brazil also made a strong showing in September 2017, adding 7.6 percent in production compared to the same month in 2016.
Mexico, meanwhile, failed to match its September 2016 output, producing 0.4 percent less steel in September 2017, while output in Venezuela dropped a massive 80.1 percent compared to September 2016.]]>
“This bill, intended to reduce plastic pollution, wrongfully penalizes paper bags—a commodity that is highly recycled, recyclable, compostable and made from a renewable resource,” says Harman regarding Massachusetts Senate Bill 424, also known as the “Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution.” The bill seeks to initiate the 10-cent tax on retail bags beginning August 1, 2018.
“Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity to differentiate paper bags as an environmentally responsible option,” adds Harman. “Paper bags are a sustainable packaging option for consumers who need carryout bags.”
According to an online article by the Worcester , Massachusetts-based Telegram, , both chambers of the legislature in Massachusetts are drafting bills that would prohibit retailers with more 3,000 square feet of space, and all chain stores with more than three locations, from providing single-use plastic bags.
In addition to targeting plastic bags, the bills mandate that shoppers who opt for paper bags will be charged 10 cents, as in inducement for shoppers and retailers to steer toward reusable shopping bags.
“This policy takes Massachusetts in the wrong direction and sets a poor example for the region,” states Harman, who adds, “AF&PA looks forward to continuing to work with the state of Massachusetts on this provision.”]]>
Volvo, in a news release, says the partnership has been created “to offer customers more options in breakers and other aftermarket attachments in North America, and results in the addition of 40 models to Volvo dealer product offerings, including the Allied flagship Rammer and Hy-Ram hydraulic breakers and Ho-Pac and Skid-Pac compactor/drivers.”
The company adds that “comparable Volvo-branded products in North America will be discontinued with this new partnership.”
“We understand that the availability of a broad range of high-quality breakers is important to our customers,” says Mark Mohn, director of attachments for Volvo in the Americas Sales Region.
“Instead of competing with industry leaders like Allied, who exclusively sell breakers, we can work together to better serve our customers. This partnership will help our dealers strengthen their ability to serve customers with an expanded range of products and best-in-class support from the breaker specialists at Allied.”
Allied’s product line includes 33 boom-mounted hydraulic hammer models and seven boom-mounted vibratory compactors/drivers.
Volvo dealers will order and receive breakers and relevant parts directly from Allied. The company also will provide service, parts and warranty support, and will support the existing population of Volvo-branded hammers in the field.
“We are pleased to offer Volvo and its dealers the market-leading products and support from Allied,” says Philip M. Paranic, president and CEO of the Cleveland-based firm. “Rest assured this is all we do — we pay attention.”]]>
“These awards honor the very best in the industry for excellence in educating the public and smart ways to recycle; creating innovative approaches to advance our work, constructing state of the art recycling facilities, and revolutionary partnerships that help protect the environment and increase collaboration with the recycling ecosystem,” said NWRA president and CEO Darrell Smith. “Our industry continues to make great strides in safety, engineering and community engagement, which not only helps to make us more effective but it also yields better results for the environment and the communities we serve.”
The Sustainability Partnership Game Changer Award and the Construction and Demolition Debris Recycler of the Year Award went to SCS Engineers and the Dane County Solid Waste Division for its Rodefield Landfill Construction and Demolition (C&D) Recycling Facility. Dane County brought in SCS Engineers to assist with the design and engineering of its facility. The entire processing line is housed inside the structure in an effort to keep the facility and surrounding area clean. This minimizes wind-blown debris as well as dust.
The Best Recycling Public Education Program Award was shared by the city of North Port, Florida’s Solid Waste Division for its outreach strategy and Recology San Francisco for its Educational Tour and Artist in Residence Program. The city of North Port launched its social media accounts in May 2015 and since then has used them, along with public events and direct marketing efforts, to keep residents informed of services offered by the Solid Waste Department, specifically the implementation of a new curbside recycling program.
Recology’s Artist in Residence Program provides artists the opportunity to take what other have thrown away and repurpose it into a variety of artistic mediums such as sculpture, photography, painting, and many other forms.
The Innovator of the Year Award went to AMP Robotics, Bolder, Colorado. AMP was honored for its artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic sorting system that is already in multiple material recovery facilities (MRFs). There is little to no retrofit costs and the robot can be installed within a weekend.
The Recycling Facility of the Year Award went to FCC Environmental Services, Spain, and the city of Dallas. This award recognizes the facility that demonstrates leadership in key measurements, such as innovation, quantity of materials collected and/or processed, types of materials recovered, site improvements, or sustainability measures adopted. The facility began operating on January 1, 2017. In its first year of operation, the MRF will process around 80,000 tons in 2017 with a total capacity of 140,000 tons per year.
The Organics Recycler of the Year Award went to the city of Cedar Grove, Washington, Republic Services, Phoenix, and the Alabama Coastal Foundation for their work together in the Oyster Shell Recycling Program. Cedar Grove was honored for the critical role it plays in Puget Sound’s recycling infrastructure and sustainability efforts. Cedar Grove diverts more than 350,000 tons of organic material from landfills annually.
“I congratulate all our winners on their outstanding achievements and contributions. It is important we recognize the good work our industry is doing to make our communities better,” said Smith.]]>
Dane County opened a C&D transfer station in 2013, a site where materials were dumped and then trucked to another facility for processing. At the time materials were being trucked more than 80 miles for processing, resulting in significant transportation fees for the county. In September of the following year, Dane County brought in four partners, Landfill Reduction & Recycling (LRR), Appleton, Wisconsin; SCS Engineers, Long Beach, California; Sparta Manufacturing, Notre-Dame, Quebec, and General Kinematics, Crystal Lake, Illinois, to help convert the existing transfer site into a recycling facility.
Each of these partners contributed to making Dane County’s goal a reality. SCS provided building design and engineering services for the project. SCS worked within the footprint of the existing transfer station building and included green features such as natural daylighting, LED lights, minimal additional paved areas, and utilized heat from the Rodefeld Landfill’s gas-to-energy system.
Sparta was responsible for the design of the equipment. This included system design, integrations, controls, manufacturing of all conveyors and steelworks, and installation. General Kinematics provided the key processing equipment that is responsible for screening and density separation.
LRR is responsible for the operation of the equipment and for finding end markets for the recycled materials.
“Dane County’s partnership kept C&D recycling as a viable, cost-effective option for the Dane County community,” said Darrell Smith, President and CEO of NWRA. “This project serves as a reminder that there are great benefits to keeping reusable materials out of landfills.”
The entire processing line is housed inside the structure in an effort to keep the facility and surrounding area clean. This minimizes wind-blown debris as well as dust. Dane County also requires all loads coming in or going out to be covered and performs regular site cleanups.
Dane County and its partners had five goals in mind: to save air space in the adjacent landfill, save money, free up customer fees for other services and initiatives, keep C&D recycling viable, and to meet other sustainability goals. In 2016, the site processed 48,000 tons, and is currently on pace to process 60,000 tons of C&D this year. Each ton processed saves the county $15-$17 by recycling the materials instead of burying them in the landfill. Dane County has also saved 60,000 cubic yards of air space because of the C&D facility, which prolongs the life of the Rodefeld landfill saving tax payers money and being environmentally conscience.
LRR was featured in the cover story, “Seizing the opportunity” in the March/April 2017 issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling available at www.cdrecycler.com/article/seizing-the-opportunity.]]>