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Updated: 57 min 55 sec ago

In memoriam: Maurice “Mort” J. Ockenfels

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 09:48
Maurice “Mort” John Ockenfels Sr. died Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, at age 92, surrounded by his family. He and his wife, Marcy, founded City Carton Recycling Co., which was headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1967. They operated the company for 25 years before selling the business to their children.

Ockenfels was born June 21, 1925, in Walford, Iowa, the son of John and Lillian Delaney Ockenfels. He was a graduate of Hartwick High School in Hartwick, Iowa. From 1947 to 1952 he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Ockenfels married Marcy Barker Nov. 29, 1949, at Hamilton Air Force Based in California.

In 1967, the Ockenfels founded City Carton Recycling Co., which they operated for 25 years. Following their retirement in 1990, the couple sold the business to their children. City Carton was the largest recycling company in Iowa before being acquired by Republic Services of Phoenix in January of 2015.

In 1958 Ockenfels and his brother operated Carl’s Cartage Co., a local trucking company. In 1963, Ockenfels established Ockenfels Transfer.

He was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Bishop Cosgrove Assembly, Old Capitol Kiwanis, the American Legion and the Moose.

The Ockenfels wintered in Arizona for more than 30 years. He liked to play euchre, fish and pilot his company plane and was an active pilot until he turned 79.

Ockenfels is survived by Marcy and their eight children, Donna (Fred) Renon of San Diego; John (Deb) of Swisher, Iowa; Mark of Davenport, Iowa; Andy (Kathy) of Riverside, Iowa; Tim (Lisa) of Mount Pleasant, Iowa; Cindy Ward of Davenport; Chris (Verlaine) of Riverside; and Margie (Dennis) Maurer of Waterloo, Iowa. He also is survived by 12 grandchildren, Charles, Brandi, Dan, Kris, JR, Travis, Austin, Jake, Abbey, Becca, Christine and Jennifer, 12 great-grandchildren, Jacey, Justin, James, Gavin, Alexia, Jon, Kayla, Sam, Alex, Zack, Abel and Charlotte; and his siblings, Larry (Mary) of Swisher; Rosie Beadle, Margie McFate and Marilyn (Charlie) Ong, all of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Therese Johnson (Clair Rausch) of Iowa City; and Virginia Storjohann of Centennial, Colorado.

Ockenfels was preceded in death by his parents; his children, Jerry, Debbie, Gene and his wife, Vivian, and Maurice Jr.; and his brother Dick and sister Carolyn Dohrer.

Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Monday, Oct. 23, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and visitation was held Oct. 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, Iowa City. Burial with Military Honors was at St. Joseph Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Mort and Marcy Ockenfels Scholarship Fund for the Children’s Cancer Connection.  

Online condolences can be sent to the family at www.lensingfuneral.com

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Mahoney acquires Waste Oil Recyclers

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 09:47
Mahoney Environmental, a recycler of used cooking oil headquartered in Joliet, Illinois, announced that it has purchased Waste Oil Recyclers Inc. (WOR), a used oil recycling company based in Modena, Pennsylvania. The integration of WOR into Mahoney will allow for direct service to Mahoney customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

The October 2017 acquisition of WOR fits into the Mahoney strategy to grow its reach in the direct servicing of its customers for used cooking oil collection, recycling and other back-of-the-house service needs of our customers, Mahoney says.

"This acquisition will bring significant volume and contribute to Mahoney growth in self-service coverage, now at 27 states. WOR is unique in the depths to which their recycling culture drives their entire operation, nothing is wasted. They are just as passionate as Mahoney when it comes to their service culture and taking care of their customers. We see this as a common focal point going forward," Rick Sabol, president of Mahoney, says. "The previous owners, Jim Bricker and Brendan Steer will join Mahoney as part of the transition team for the Mid-Atlantic operation."

"For over ten years WOR has provided used cooking oil removal and recycling services in the region. Our goal of exceeding customer expectations is ongoing and we are thrilled to be a part of the transition as Mahoney will continue with what we started over ten years ago," Jim Bricker and Brendan Steer, co-owners of WOR, say.
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MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum: Investing in equipment and employees

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 06:49
Huge investments have been made in the recycling industry in the last 25 years, and with mixed results, Nat Egosi said in his opening remarks at the second annual MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum in Chicago Oct. 10.

Egosi led the one-day forum, which brought together 170 attendees, from plant and regional managers to owners, engineers, equipment suppliers and government officials. The event was hosted by the Recycling Today Media Group in cooperation with RRT Design & Construction, a Melville, New York-based consulting firm with significant experience in the MRF design sector where Egosi is president and CEO.

“Our focus is on the ‘process’ in the collect, process and ship scenario,” Egosi said in his opening remarks.

The sessions at the MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum focused on the processes of plants, from safety of employees to separation of materials. Material recovery facility (MRF) operators and equipment providers, among others, discussed ways to improve procedures, best practices for certain sorting equipment, how to effectively manage a tipping floor and a retrofit as well as the use of data in everyday operations, among other topics.

The day flowed in a conversational-style format, allowing attendees to ask a question or make a comment during any presentation.

Below is a rundown of each of the seven sessions at the MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum:

Running a retrofit

When it comes to managing a retrofit, speakers Jill Martin and Jim Marcinko said it is all about relationships. From employees to end markets and equipment providers, every relationship matters during a retrofit process.

Martin, recycling and resource recovery administrator for Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste in Wisconsin, expressed the importance of trusting contractors. Marcinko, vice president of recycling operations for Waste Management Inc. (WM), Houston, drove that point home, saying, “Become a partner with the installation team. Treat them like family, get to know them. That’s your livelihood they are doing.”

A reliable relationship also comes into play during the retrofit process when material pileups could be a concern. Marcinko suggested to not hold on to material. “Send it to someone else and make sure it’s a reliable relationship,” he said.

Martin agreed. She said, “We never would have been successful without the cooperation from the mills and the labor company.”

In addition, training employees on the new equipment is just as important, Marcinko said, as the controls mostly likely will be different.

Beyond relationships, Marcinko advised attendees to determine who has the best solution for a specific retrofit. Every facility is different, he said, and every retrofit is unique. “The lowest-cost proposal is not always the best,” Marcinko said. He added, “The better you manage it … the better your results will be.”

In her presentation, Martin shared details of the two retrofits the Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste facility has completed. In 2008, the facility disassembled and sold its dual-stream equipment. (The equipment was reinstalled in Emmet County, Michigan, for a total cost of $1.1 million to deconstruct, transport, store, engineer, refurbish and install.) The building and all production stopped for nine months during this transition. Martin said subcontracted employees were offered unemployment or employment at another facility while one subcontracted staff and a few county staff stayed on to do painting, cleaning, small repairs and assist with installation and loading operations. The transfer station was used as a tipping floor. Material was shipped to other counties for processing, including loose paper transported via trucks to local mills. This cost the facility an additional $44,000 in hauling and $125,000 in processing during the nine months of construction, Martin said.

In its second retrofit, Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste doubled its capacity, increasing processing from 45,000 tons per year to 90,000 tons per year. Other improvements included the addition of a mixed paper bunker, a redesigned container line and an additional dock door. Production continued through this second retrofit, a highlight Martin pointed out as “what we did right.”

While the county encountered several challenges, including fitting equipment in existing spaces and electrical issues, Martin recognized, “We had challenges, but we did a lot right.”

Being forward-thinking also is helpful. “Forward-thinking of what are investments and changes we’ll want to make later so we can better plan for it now?” Martin noted.

Martin said the future of recycling lies in robots. “Our next retrofit will have some of this,” she said of robotics.

Separating Do’s and Don’ts

These back-to-back panels, one focused on fiber and the other on containers, dug into best practices for three key equipment classes: screens, ballistic separators and optical sorters.

Fiber

Moderator Egosi started the session by noting China’s proposed import ban on certain scrap imports, including mixed paper, is mostly due to contaminated loads of imported baled recyclables. Cleaning up quality is a must.

“China is not very nice to us these days,” said Pieter Eenkema van Dijk, CEO of Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, Stamford, Connecticut, and a speaker on the fiber panel.

Van Dijk said he has seen two actions occurring in MRFs that are affecting the way recyclers sort paper: Some recyclers are changing screens to nonwrapping screens. Others have invested in optical sorting equipment. “There’s a new way to approach single stream today, a completely different way,” Van Dijk said. “Instead of sending smaller material to screens, send it to an optical sorter. I think eventually we’re going away from screens because you can positively sort the paper and negatives can go to optical.”

In reference to China’s import ban and its proposed 0.3 percent limit on contaminants, Rich Reardon, managing director of Max-AI for Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Oregon, and another panelist, asked, “Who didn’t see this coming?”

Reardon said investing in plants and ensuring the entire system is “commissioned to perform” as it should is important. This includes “making sure the screen is set to the specification provided and that discs are in good shape,” Reardon said.

As for using screens to collect more old corrugated containers (OCC) from the stream, Reardon suggested operators change the screens in different zones.

“Should we be focusing on one mixed paper grade and pull out OCC or can screens be modified?” Reardon said. “You need to look at the opening on screens by looking at the balance on the system.”

Speakers said plastic film makes up about 5 percent of MRFs’ inbound streams. Reardon suggested using optical sorters and air to remove film. Bypassing a screen also is an option. 

Van Dijk said film “is a huge problem” and “it cost a fortune just to sort film.”

David Marcouiller, executive vice president of sales engineering at Machinex Industries Inc., Plessisville, Quebec, and another panelist, confirmed the difficulty of removing film from the stream. “Film is hard to get out and when you do, it takes good fiber with it,” Marcouiller said.

He said the bulk of labor in MRFs today is spent on the fiber line, pulling out film and OCC.

As for fiber quality concerns, Marcouiller said using ballistic separators also can be helpful. “As soon as you separate the material by size, you can really attack the problem in a different way,” he said of ballistic separators.

When collecting material in colder climates, where snow and ice, and therefore wetness, thrive, speakers suggested lowering screens. Additionally, Marcouiller said agitating the material more often can make a real difference.

Marcouiller said, “Packer trucks are getting better at packing material. … [You] need to agitate material throughout the system.”

Containers

Speakers on the containers panel said it is a matter of space and capital investments to make the necessary moves that will permit MRFs to sort flexible packaging and glass, among other containers, more efficiently.

Nick Davis, senior cost estimator for CP Group, San Diego, said the industry is learning to adapt to these changes. This is especially true considering Davis said MRFs’ inbound stream of flexible packaging is expected to increase to 3 percent to 5 percent.

“Flexible packaging is here and I don’t think it’s going away,” said Davis.

He added, “There are a lot of different things to consider. It will require rethinking of the MRF and how we recycle materials.”

A decade ago, the containers MRFs were sorting were mostly used beverage containers (UBCs), said panelist Michael Drolet, solution sales manager for Steinert US, Walton, Kentucky. Today, inbound streams include UBCs, plastics Nos. 3-7, glass and aseptic cartons, among other containers.

“We need to rethink our process flow to adapt to what we’re getting in the bin,” Drolet said.

He said drum magnets in MRFs started as a trend about five years ago. “The right drum magnet will always be more expensive, but will give you cleaner steel,” Drolet said.

However, Davis recognized the reality of accepting any and all materials at the MRF, saying, “We don’t have space to store every possible commodity. There’s market economics and also physical economics.”

Speakers addressed the question, “Can I improve something to better introduce material to equipment?”

Panelist Scott Jable, director of North American sales for Stadler America LLC, Colfax, North Carolina, suggested adjusting the angle of the screens. “I always adjust the angle first; the steeper you run your screen, the less contamination.”

He said star screens and ballistic separators have the same idea in mind: trying to get 3D material to go airborne. If a flattened polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle is stuck between two pieces of paper, recyclers should avoid overrunning their screens.

“Try to run your system at what it was designed to or designed with a reasonable throughput,” Jable said. “If you overrun your screens, you’ll bury everything.”

Jable said most of the issues with optical sorters are mechanical. Overrunning the sorter and not cleaning valves or putting them in the wrong place can cause disruptions.

Davis said CP Group has seen a number of MRFs add optical sorters, which are an alternative to disc screens.

Davis said, “Optical sorters, fed correctly, can do everything we’re asking them to do, it takes space and money. Nobody has really been willing to spend that much money.”

He added, “There are a lot of competing issues working on the economic side, but optical sorters are going to continue to evolve.”

As for robotics, Davis said he sees this type of equipment and optical sorters as competing and also complimentary to each other. 

War Stories

An open forum, the War Stories session welcomed attendees to share various challenging encounters they have had running their plants.

Dwayne McDonald, who works at Republic Services’ Fort Worth, Texas, MRF, shared a story of the time a bag of cash passed by sorters on the line. He described workers jumping around and a safety concern. No one was hurt, and the cash was pulled off the line and dollars picked up off the floor.

Jon Schroeder, general manager at Lakeshore Recycling Systems, headquartered in Morton Grove, Illinois, detailed a quick story when a live grenade showed up at the yard. “Our day got better as soon as [the fire marshal] left the yard,” Schroeder said.

Dem-Con Cos. President Bill Keegan shared an incident when a line worker shouted, “I got a gun!” before letting everyone around him know that he had just pulled it off the sorting line. “No one knew it was on the line,” Keegan said. It was an airsoft gun, and no one was hurt.

Figuring out the floor

At a single-stream MRF, turning off the faucet is not an option; feedstock is continuous. To manage this stream efficiently, Balcones Resources has a controlled receiving process, said speaker Joaquin Mariel, general manager for the Austin-based company. Balcones stores its residential and commercial loads on opposite sides of the tipping floor. With the loader in the center of the room, Mariel said the operator wastes less time this way. The loader also is used for audits; the less people on the floor, the better.

Mariel said, “We have enough tip floor space for four trucks. We monitor it effectively and the customer is happy.”

Speaker Brad Dunn, Cincinnati market recycling manager for Rumpke Waste & Recycling, outlined several factors to consider when figuring out the tipping floor: safety, fire/access, traffic flow, floor/walls, equipment and productivity. Another factor: considering which way the wind is blowing. Dunn sad building a MRF based on the wind’s positioning will help to keep material contained, and the property clean.

“Which way is wind blowing? You’ll pay more cleaning up your property,” if wind direction is not considered, Dunn said.

As for what the floor is made of, Dunn said concrete is king. “We’ve tried all kinds of concrete,” Dunn said of Rumpke. The company has settled on ballistic concrete. Dunn said this concrete type is durable, and while it costs more up front, it’s worth it.

Another cost that Rumpke realized is worthwhile: a trailer tipper. Rumpke’s Cincinnati MRF sees 18 trailer loads a day of single-stream material, Dunn said. The trailer tipper is “a highly used piece of equipment,” he said.

With so much incoming material, Dunn noted that scheduling is important. Don’t let the tail wag the dog, he said. “Work with the people that are bringing you the material,” Dunn said.

He added, “Who owns the floor? Your operators have to own the floor.”

Dunn expressed his concern for fires at MRFs, especially due to lithium-ion batteries. Rumpke has had nine fires in 2017 at its Cincinnati MRF, mostly due to lithium-ion batteries, Dunn said.

Straightening out Safety

While there aren’t any secrets in safety, there are best practices and ways to boost the morale and work ethic of employees to ensure a safe environment. Speakers Jerry Sjogren and David Lewis shared habits each of their companies exercise that encourage workers to show up to work daily with safety in mind at all times.

“Oftentimes we hire people because they have a pulse. We have to do due diligence in order to ensure we’re safe,” said Sjogren, safety director for E.L. Harvey & Sons, Westborough, Massachusetts.

Get to know the rules and regulations in your area, he said. With marijuana’s legalization in some states, Sjogren said you can still test for this drug. In addition, spend time with new hires going over safety and training them. E.L. Harvey’s safety philosophy is the same as the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ (ISRI’s): Safely or not at all.

Be aware of bullies who have worked at the facility for years picking on new hires. Many times, Sjogren said, it’s the “older senior guys” who are making a lot of mistakes because they are comfortable.

Sjogren and Lewis expressed the value in empowering workers. The more entrusted workers feel, the more likely they will report close calls and near misses, Sjogren said. Listen and respond to concerns.

“If you can get your people empowered to come to you, those are leading indicators,” Sjogren said. “It’s knowing people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing that you know you’ve got a good culture.”

Lewis, director of safety, recycling, at WM said, “We empower all of our workers.”

People learn by observing, said Lewis. Develop programs around safety. Show new hires photos of at-risk behavior and fall protection. WM uses a PowerPoint presentation to show new hires the company’s safety standards. “You have to start basic,” Lewis said.

People also want to be awarded and appreciated, Sjogren said. E.L Harvey & Sons has 20-25 percent annual turnover—two-thirds is the company discharging the employee, one-third is voluntary.

Turnover in this industry is “pretty immense,” Lewis said.

To boost morale, Lewis said WM recognizes safe behavior with cookouts, message boards and by celebrating milestones. The company also allows forklift drivers to paint and decorate their forklifts. “If you can paint your forklift, will you take better care of your forklift? Yes,” Lewis said.

“Be creative,” he added.

WM also encourages preshift stretching, Lewis said. “Make everyone feel like they are an industrial athlete, because they are,” he said.

“It’s really up to the employer to mentor and show respect,” Lewis added.

Digging into data

Figuring out which materials are worth sorting for a MRF is a challenge in itself. Speaker Jim Ford, general manager at Royal Oak Recycling, Royal Oak, Michigan, identified the “Three Commandments of Evaluating Recyclable Material Streams”:

  1. Know Thy Buyers and Sellers (including material, quality specs, volumes, shipping/collection needs and pricing);
  2. Understand Thy Operation (including plant capacities, material, space, upgrade or mix and cost); and
  3. Determine Thy Opportunity Cost (including volume and capacity, asset usage, margins and strategy).

“How much grief do you want to go through to meet your margins?” Ford asked.

Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Cos., Shakopee, Wisconsin, said it’s all about end markets. Without end markets, it is not worth sorting certain materials. “One of our challenges in the MRF is volatility,” Keegan said.

He said he has seen gains in revenue sharing models where revenue from commodities sold is split 80/20: 80 percent goes back to the customer, 20 percent to the MRF. This fee-for-a-service model is being implemented more often, he said.

“Get a recycling contract that weathers high and low,” he said.

As an industry, Keegan said there is not enough communication between packaging designers and recyclers. “Evolving material requires an evolving MRF,” Keegan said. He supports the hub-and-spoke model of MRFs as well as the use of optical sorters and robotics.

Examining employees’ efficiencies

Managing your workforce begins with respecting employees. That was the message from some executives at Leadpoint Business Services, Phoenix, who led the last session of the MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum.

Leadpoint specializes in productivity work with MRFs to help improve output, said Pat Hudson, vice president of sales and marketing for the company.

“When talking about safety, motivation and teamwork go hand in hand, we’ve heard that all day today,” Hudson said.

He outlined the key factors for a worker’s success: attention to detail, tolerance for the conditions and ability to work with others.

Asking nonessential questions is another idea Hudson shared. Asking a potential worker if they get carsick is one way to figure out if he or she has motion sensitivity, a concern for the job.

“The No. 1 rule for hiring is to help them be successful so you can get more tons,” Hudson said.

He added, “Don’t sabotage the candidate with self-fulfilling prophecy. Set the candidate up for success.

Ted Horton, vice president of operational excellence, shared a story of a facility in Reno that had gone through seven leaders in three years. “Churn and burn,” Horton said. Leadpoint suggested looking outside the box. That facility hired a leader from big box retail; he had never worn a safety vest or worn steel-toed boots.

However, the new leader brought so much more. “What he brought us was a ‘Can-do attitude,’” Horton said.

“Retail at its core is about people,” Horton continued. “He was always smiling, said thank you. He encouraged pride in his work.”

The underlying root cause of the turmoil at the Reno facility was not technical, it was leadership, Horton said.

“Every employee needs to add value,” Horton said. He added that peer-to-peer accountability is what makes a team successful.

The MRF & Recycling Plant Operations Forum was Oct. 10 in Chicago at the Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile.

 

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Arconic announces leadership changes

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 05:25
Arconic Inc., headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, has announced business management changes designed to streamline and strengthen its operational executive leadership. The changes are effective immediately.

Eric Roegner has been appointed executive vice president and group president, engineered products and solutions (EP&S), and Tim Myers has been appointed executive vice president and group president, global rolled products (GRP) and transportation and construction solutions (TCS).

Roegner, succeeds Karl Tragl, who will leave the company. Roegner joined Alcoa Inc. in 2006 and has 11 years’ experience in aerospace and defense. Since his appointment in May 2017 as executive vice president and group president, global rolled products, he has significantly rationalized and strengthened the business, with overhead reductions expected to save $15 million in 2018, Arconic says.

Roegner previously was chief operating officer of EP&S, where he led the successful integration of the RTI acquisition and oversaw Arconic’s jet engine business. He is co-inventor of the Ampliforge process, a hybrid technique that combines additive and advanced manufacturing processes.

He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He currently serves on the board of governors of the Aerospace Industries Association.

Myers joined Alcoa Inc. in 1992 as an automotive applications engineer and has a strong background in automotive and commercial transportation. He was appointed executive vice president and group president, TCS in May 2016 and has led the group to achieve five consecutive quarters of year-over-year EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) growth through June 2017. Myers was previously president of Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products, where he drove the business to increase innovation, profitably grow market share and expand internationally, Arconic says.

Myers has also held automotive engineering and commercial roles for GRP and Alcoa Forged Products. Prior to joining Alcoa Inc., he was a product design engineer for Ford Motor Co.

Myers holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Michigan.

He currently serves on the board of governors (and is a prior chairman) of the Heavy Duty Manufacturer’s Association, and also serves on the board of directors of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.

“Both Eric and Tim are proven operational executives, with strong industry experience and a track record of driving profitable growth and serving our customers with excellence,” says Arconic Interim Chief Executive Officer David Hess. “Eric’s strong background in aerospace and defense position him to successfully lead EP&S as we support our customers in meeting their aggressive ramp-ups and drive increased share for Arconic on the new aero engine and airframe platforms. Tim’s deep operational and commercial experience in transportation markets will be key to realizing valuable synergies in our transportation portfolio in both GRP and TCS. With this change, Arconic brings GRP and TCS under a single executive leader, further streamlining our management structure.”

Hess adds, “We thank Karl for his leadership, passion for excellence and many significant contributions to Arconic. Under his leadership, EP&S improved operating performance and strengthened customer relationships in the face of an extraordinary ramp up in -nextgeneration engine deliveries. He created a team-oriented culture where innovation flourished. I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

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September 2017 output strong for steelmakers

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 22:50
The world’s steelmakers churned out 5.6 percent more crude steel in September 2017 compared to September 2016, according to the Brussels-based World Steel Association (Worldsteel).

Output for the 66 countries that report to Worldsteel checked in at 141.4 million metric tons in September 2017, compared to 134 million metric tons of output in September 2016.

Year to date in 2017, Worldsteel reports crude steel production of 1.267 billion metric tons, also up by 5.6 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

Asia’s steel production continues to surge, having grown by 5.9 percent year-over-year. Asia has produced 876.3 million metric tons of crude steel in the first nine months of 2017, representing 69 percent of the world’s total.

Steelmakers in most other parts of the world also have raised their output of crude steel in the first three quarters of 2017, with the EU’s output increasing by 4.1 percent and North America’s production rising by 3.5 percent.

While China’s steelmaking capacity and output—and its ability to keep consuming the steel it produces—have been looked at with skepticism by many analysts, the nation’s steel output continues to rise. Year to date, China’s output has risen by 6.3 percent, with September showing only a modest deviation from that pattern (with a 5.3 percent increase in September 2017 compared to September 2016).

Ferrous scrap exporters in Europe and North America are likely encouraged by Turkey’s figure for September 2017. Steelmakers in Turkey produced 3 million metric tons of steel in September, an increase of 13 percent compared to September 2016.

Other substantial ferrous scrap importing nations also are experiencing steel output boosts so far in 2017, with crude steel output rising by 7.8 percent in Taiwan, 5.7 percent in India, 3.5 percent in South Korea, and an impressive 43 percent in Pakistan. Worldsteel says the production figure it receives from Vietnam is incomplete, but its known steel output has risen by 86 percent in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the first three quarters of 2016.

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ArcelorMittal honored for slag recycling effort

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 22:17
A slag recycling project at the Ostrava, Czech Republic, ArcelorMittal steel mill has been honored by that nation’s Ministry of Industry and Trade through its “Transforming waste into resources” competition. ArcelorMittal’s Jitka Halamová received an award presented at the Czech Senate in Prague in mid-October 2017.

The project, which substituted the primary raw materials for steelmaking with processed recycled slag, ranked fourth in a competition entered by 127 contestants. A panel assembled by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Education, universities, professional associations and unions judged the entries.

 “This award is an affirmation of a project I have been working on for more than two years,” says Halamová, who played a key role in ArcelorMittal’s task to “efficiently recycle waste back into the production process.”

The slag pellets generated as a byproduct typically have a phosphorus content that limits their usefulness in the sintering process, since phosphorus reduces the quality of the resulting pig iron. Traditionally, very little slag is returned to the sintering process, according to ArcelorMittal.

But by mechanically processing the slag pellets, which are smaller than one-third of an inch (8 millimeters) in size, Halamová and her team were able to increase the slag’s iron content from less than 40 percent to between 54 and 57 percent, while keeping the phosphorus content low enough to reuse the enriched slag in the sintering process. The processed slag was thus able to replace iron ore, additives and fuel in the production process.

According to ArcelorMittal, one metric ton of enriched slag can replace slightly more than one metric ton of iron ore, about 740 pounds (336 kilograms) of carbonate additives and varying amounts of fuel.

Using slag in this way increases the sustainability of the mill’s operations and saves money compared to extracting and using primary natural resources, says the firm. In 2016 ArcelorMittal Ostrava recycled on average 1,900 metric tons of enriched slag per month, and in the process saved a more than $865,000 (€735,000).

“Since we've been using a special technology to sort the slag to end up a with higher iron content and a lower level of phosphorus, we have been able to reuse that slag in our operations in much higher amounts than before,” says Halamová. “Thanks to that, we are able to save iron ore, additives and fuel and, at the same time, we don’t accumulate large amounts of waste on our premises.”

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Merger speculation rife in Asian steel sector

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 21:37
The Shanghai-based Baowu Steel Group Co., formed by the 2016 merger of Baosteel and Wuhan Iron and Steel, has reportedly signaled its intention to grow via acquisition. At the same time, investors are buying stock in India-based Bhushan Steel Ltd., based on speculation that it will be acquired by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal.

According to an online news item by Reuters, Baowu Steel President Ma Guoqiang indicated to that news organization via e-mail that the company intends to “actively participate” in merger and acquisition opportunities in a nation where the government is encouraging such activity.

Reuters, citing the Beijing-based magazine Caixin, lists Chongqing Iron & Steel Co. as one potential acquisition target for Baowu, which currently has about 70 million metric tons per year of steelmaking capacity.

Investors in India, meanwhile, have driven up the value of shares in New Delhi-based Bhushan Steel Ltd., based on interest expressed by ArcelorMittal to acquire it. According to an online news item by the Mumbai-based Economic Times, Bhushan Steel’s stock value climbed 20 percent on Monday, October 23, 2017, based on the signal from ArcelorMittal.

The Economic Times describes Bhushan Steel as a holder of “distressed steel assets.” In its most recent financial quarter, the company’s sales were down by 10.6 percent compared to the previous quarter, and the company recorded a net loss.

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Green Energy and Development to develop recycling and composting facility in Atlanta

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:52
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has chosen Green Energy and Development Inc., Winnebago, Minnesota, to develop a recycling and composting facility on airport grounds, according to an article on the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) website.

The facility, which the airport calls Green Acres, will be built on 30 acres of property on the south side of the airport in Clayton County.

The newspaper reports that Green Energy and Development Inc. was one of six firms to compete for the contract with Hartsfield-Jackson. The other companies were Cash Development LLC, Randolph & Company LLC, Columbia Technology LLC, Multiplex LLC and Sun State Organics LLC.

Airport officials want the Atlanta City Council to approve a 30-year lease with the company that includes two five-year renewal options, according to the AJC report. Services are estimated to cost $215,900 annually.

Hartsfield-Jackson officials tell the AJC they want to recycle material generated at the airport and compost chipped yard trimmings from the city’s public works department.

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Stadler completes Allerton Waste Recovery Park installation

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:18
Germany-based Stadler, with North American headquarters in Colfax, North Carolina, has announced the completion of its latest high-volume installation at the Allerton Waste Recovery Park in North Yorkshire, U.K.

“This facility is truly state of the art,” says Stadler LLC CEO Mat Everhart. “The facility will process some 270,000 tons of MSW (municipal solid waste) annually, providing tremendous value for our customer and their community.”

The facility encompasses 132 conveyors, four 32-foot trommels and four ballistic separators. It contains 350 tons of steelwork and is designed to process nearly 80 tons per hour of MSW, recovering nearly all recyclables at purity levels comparable with the most efficient single-stream systems in operation today, the system supplier says.

“This is a complex plant designed entirely by Stadler in concert with our customer in response to their materials processing needs,” says shares Scott Jable, sales director for Stadler LLC. “Mechanical installation and full commissioning was completed in just 14 weeks by our highly experienced team.”  

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Arconic reports 3 percent increase in revenue for Q3 2017

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:43
Arconic Inc., headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, has reported revenue of $3.2 billion for the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 3 percent year over year, driven by higher volumes across all business segments as well as higher aluminum prices. Organic revenue was up 5 percent year over year, the company says.

Net income attributable to Arconic in the third quarter of 2017 was $119 million, or 22 cents per share. The results included a last-in-first-out- (LIFO-) and metal-lag-related $30 million charge ($46 million pretax) and $13 million in special items, primarily charges related to restructuring, the company says.

Excluding special items, third quarter 2017 adjusted income was $132 million, or 25 cents per share. Annualized return on net assets (RONA) was 8.1 percent, based on year-to-date results.

Arconic says it continued its focus on cost reduction in the third quarter. The company delivered net cost savings of 1.5 percent of revenue and improved its full year selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) guidance by approximately $25 million versus the original 2017 target. Arconic says it is on track to deliver an improvement of approximately $100 million year over year in SG&A, with additional run-rate savings expected in 2018.

Third quarter 2017 consolidated adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $430 million, up 14 percent year over year. Consolidated adjusted EBITDA excluding special items was $437 million, up 2 percent year over year. Consolidated adjusted EBITDA margin excluding special items was 13.5 percent, down 20 basis points year over year, as rising aluminum prices had the dual impact of increasing revenue and a larger LIFO charge.

“Arconic delivered its third consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue and EBITDA growth,” says Arconic Interim Chief Executive Officer David Hess. “We are demonstrating consistent improvements in operating performance on the back of healthy organic revenue growth, coupled with better-than-planned progress on streamlining, restructuring and net cost reduction. Uniquely this quarter, our results were negatively impacted by a sharply higher, noncash LIFO charge, resulting from a spike in aluminum prices.  We remain focused on a strong finish to 2017, and reaffirm the Arconic full-year earnings guidance.”

The company’s Engineered Products and Solutions (EP&S) segment reported revenue of $1.5 billion, up 5 percent year over year, and adjusted EBITDA of $312 million, up $16 million year over year. Increased aerospace volume and continued net cost savings were partially offset by unfavorable price and mix, Arconic says. Engine ramp costs were higher than expected. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 21.1 percent, flat year over year.

Its Global Rolled Products (GRP) segment reported revenue of $1.2 billion, a decrease of 4 percent year over year. Organic revenue was up 1. Adjusted EBITDA was $140 million, down $3 million year over year, driven by reduced aerospace wide-body build rates, airframe destocking and pricing pressure in regional specialties, partially offset by net cost savings of 1.6 percent of revenue. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 11.3 percent, up 20 basis points year over year, including a 170 basis point negative impact of higher aluminum prices, the company says.

Arconic’s Transportation and Construction Solutions (TCS) segment delivered revenue of $517 million, an increase of 15 percent year over year, and adjusted EBITDA of $83 million, up $7 million year over year. Higher volume and cost reductions more than offset headwinds, the company says, including unfavorable price and mix and higher aluminum prices. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 16.1 percent, down 80 basis points year over year, including a 120 basis point negative impact of higher aluminum prices.

The company ended the third quarter of 2017 with $1.8 billion in cash on hand. Cash from operations was $172 million, and free cash flow was $41 million. Cash used for financing activities was $15 million and cash used for investing activities was $128 million.

Arconic says it will hold a special meeting of shareholders Nov. 30, 2017, to approve the change of the company’s jurisdiction of incorporation from Pennsylvania to Delaware. Holders of record of Arconic common stock at the close of business Oct. 5, 2017, are entitled to vote at the special meeting. If approved, Arconic says it currently expects the reincorporation to occur on or about Dec. 31, 2017. The company’s post-reincorporation Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws will not contain any supermajority voting requirements, will provide that the board of directors be completely declassified and that all directors be elected annually.

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Braskem partners with Made In Space to develop recycling technology to be used on space missions

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 09:06
Law firm Akerman LLP, headquartered in Miami, says it has assisted Brazil-based Braskem, the Americas’ largest thermoplastic resin producer, in its venture with NASA supplier Made In Space Inc. to develop the first recycling technology to be used on space missions.

The deal was finalized in October 2017 and will continue the collaboration that led to Braskem and Made In Space launching the first commercial 3D printing technology into space. This 3D printing technology enabled astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to fabricate mission-critical tools and spare parts on demand from Braskem’s I'm green polyethylene, a biobased resin made from sugarcane.

The recycler, which is slated to reach the ISS in the second half of 2018, will complete the plastic life cycle by providing astronauts the ability to convert plastic packaging and objects previously fabricated by the 3D printer into feedstock that could be reused by the printer. The invention will improve the autonomy and sustainability of long-duration space missions, while also helping to reduce the cost and weight of payloads carried from earth, Braskem says.

“Taking the first plastic recycler into space is a massive challenge and a source of great pride for Braskem,” says Braskem Director of Innovation & Technology Patrick Teyssonneyre. “This second phase of our partnership with Made In Space will close the plastic cycle sustainably, from the production of green polyethylene made from sugarcane to the recycling of polymers for other applications.”

Miami Partner Felipe Berer, in the Corporate Practice Group, and Chicago Partner Stacy Baim, in the Intellectual Property Practice Group led the Akerman team. The lawyers assisted Braskem in the negotiation and drafting of its agreement with Made In Space, Moffett Field, California. They were tasked with blending the intellectual property aspects of the deal, including licensing and marketing commitments, with applicable NASA requirements and ISS guidelines.

“We built upon the knowledge we gained from Braskem’s first agreement with Made In Space, which enabled us to not only satisfy all of our client’s wishes but also complete the deal within a shorter timeframe,” Baim says. “We were fortunate to have equally motivated partners and a high level of collaboration to quickly move this historic venture forward.”

“This agreement to build a recycler establishes a new standard for plastics innovation in space,” Berer says. “The technology will close the loop in on-demand manufacturing while utilizing Braskem’s Green Plastic, one of the greatest innovations in polymers.”

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Arconic appoints new CEO

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 08:15
Arconic Inc., headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, has announced that its board of directors has appointed Charles “Chip” Blankenship as chief executive officer and a member of the Arconic board, effective Jan. 15, 2018. He is a 24-year veteran of General Electric (GE) who spent much of his career in its aviation and jet engine businesses, including running its commercial engine operations, the company says.

Blankenship, 51, brings 20 years of aerospace experience to Arconic, having worked across GE’s aviation businesses, including aero engines, industrial gas turbines and aerospace alloy development. He previously led GE Aviation’s Commercial Engines Operation, the world’s leading producer of large and small jet engines for commercial aircraft.

A metallurgist by training, Blankenship began his career with GE in 1992 after earning a Bachelor of Science in materials engineering from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia. Blankenship’s GE career culminated in his appointment as president and chief executive officer of GE Appliances in December 2011, where he led a significant turnaround of the business and its subsequent 2016 sale to Haier Co., Arconic says.

Blankenship is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and serves on the board of the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), where he has also led NAM’s Task Force on Competitiveness & the Workforce. He holds seven patents related to jet engine technology.

Blankenship says, “Arconic is a company with significant strengths and tremendous potential. I am eager to engage with customers, employees and the board to develop plans that capitalize on our strengths and deliver outstanding returns for our shareholders. I am excited to join the team and get started."

Patricia F. Russo, interim chair of the Arconic board, says, “After a thoughtful and deliberate search, the board is unanimous that Chip Blankenship is the right leader to take the helm at Arconic. Chip is an exceptional executive with deep operating experience in aerospace and materials science. He has a strong customer orientation and impressive leadership skills. We are confident that Chip will lead Arconic to create sustainable and increasing value for customers and for shareholders.”

David Hess, who has served as Arconic’s interim CEO since April 2017, will remain CEO until the start of Blankenship’s tenure and will continue to serve on the board after the transition. He says, “I have known Chip Blankenship for many years as a colleague and competitor in the aerospace industry, and I can personally attest that he is an excellent fit for Arconic. I couldn’t be happier with the board’s selection. I’m looking forward to working with him to ensure a seamless transition and continuing my service as a director to help realize the vast potential of Arconic.”

Acknowledging Hess’s service as interim CEO, Russo says, “The board extends its sincere appreciation to David Hess for leading Arconic during its transition to a permanent CEO. We look forward to David’s continued service as a director.”

John Plant, an Arconic director since 2016, has been appointed chair of the board effective immediately. He succeeds Pat Russo, who stepped into the role on an interim basis in April 2017; she will continue her service on the board and chair the Governance Committee.

Plant, 64, has had a distinguished career in the automotive industry spanning nearly 40 years, Arconic says. He previously served as chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of TRW Automotive, which was acquired by ZF Friedrichshafen AG in May 2015.

Plant says, “As Arconic approaches its first anniversary as a standalone public company it has much to look forward to; together with the entire board, I look forward to working with Chip to drive Arconic’s success into the future.”

 

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NERC awarded grant for food waste management in Maryland

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 07:57
The Brattleboro, Vermont-based Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has been awarded $65,638 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Services Solid Waste Management Grant Program to implement food waste, organics and manure management in rural Maryland communities.

NERC says the goal of the project is to assist rural communities to improve solid waste planning and management, leading to reductions in solid waste generation and water pollution. Stakeholders in the Maryland counties of Allegany and Cecil will be engaged to implement best management practices for food waste reduction, organics and manure management. Through webinars and outreach, the project will benefit other regions of Maryland, as well as the Northeast and the country, according to the organization.

The project will engage citizens, students, business and nonprofit representatives, town staff and transfer station employees, civic leaders and others in education, training and outreach. The technical assistance and trainings offered by the project will incorporate a number of innovative techniques, such as citizen scientist recruitment and training. NERC says the project will further support rural economies by identifying ways to reduce and manage food waste cost-effectively within the community. Exploring opportunities for stimulating local economies, through the use and marketing of compost products, also will be addressed.

NERC says it will work with the participant counties, the Maryland Department of the Environment and other project partners, to:

  • develop best management practices and resources for planning, implementing and promoting food waste reduction, organics and/or manure management;
  • provide project-centered regional training sessions for a wide range of stakeholders;
  • deliver on-site technical assistance to participant communities with the goal of implementing sustainable projects in at least five of the communities. The projects will implement and/or expand food waste reduction and recovery programs, organics reduction and composting, and/or manure best management practices; and
  • deliver two project-related national webinars, including Maryland-based case studies and models for success.

NERC is a multistate nonprofit organization that that conducts research, projects, training and outreach on issues associated with source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP).

 

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