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EPA removes Pennsylvania C&D recycling site from National Priorities List

News from Recycling Today - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 08:14
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, has removed a construction and demolition (C&D) recycling site in Foster Township, Pennsylvania, from the Superfund National Priorities List.

The 110-acre site was used to reclaim metals, including copper and lead, from cable wires from 1963 until 1984. Cable burning and processing materials at the site caused contamination of the surrounding soil and sediment that posed a risk to human health and the environment.

The cleanup included the stabilization and off-site disposal of contaminated soil and sediment by Nassau Metals Corp., New Providence, New Jersey. Approximately 80,000 tons, or 4,000 truckloads, of stabilized soil and sediment were removed from the site during the remediation.

EPA conducted oversight of the remediation work by Nassau Metals and has determined the site no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment.

The National Priorities List is a roster of the nation’s most contaminated sites that threaten human health or the environment. The sites on the list are eligible for cleanup under EPA’s Superfund program. EPA removes sites from the list once all the remedies are successfully implemented and no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.

“Superfund cleanup and safe reuse of the site continues to be a priority at EPA as we work to create a safer and healthier environment for all communities affected,” Cosmo Servidio, EPA Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, says. “Removing this site from the list represents an important step toward achieving this goal.”

EPA did not receive any adverse comments during the 30-day public comment period on the proposal to delist.

For more information about the site, visit https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0300881.

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Plastics Recycling 2018: Beyond the ban

News from Recycling Today - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 07:41
Pictured above, from left: Dylan de Thomas, Brent Bell, Pablo Leon and Hamilton Wen

Postconsumer plastic scrap has been a primary target of the import bans China has introduced this year. Additionally, import licenses for plastic scrap have been harder to come by, while import quotas have been reduced.

Panelists during the second plenary session, China’s Impact – The Ban and Beyond, during Plastics Recycling 2018 discussed the impact of China’s actions on the plastics recycling industry. The event, organized by Resource Recycling, was Feb. 19-21 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“China is completely off the table,” said Hamilton Wen, director of California-based Newport CH International’s plastics division. As a result, the company’s plastics brokerage business has experienced a “complete upheaval,” he added.

While Newport CH is looking at other markets worldwide, sales come down to quality, he said. “It is no longer a seller’s market. Now it is who has the best material.”

Pablo Leon, Asia manager for the Spanish company Fosimpe SL, with operations in Shanghai, said China’s actions should not have come as a surprise. “The bans have been rumored for some time.”

However, Leon added that he believed that China has gone too far with its actions.

Brent Bell, vice president of recycling for Waste Management, Houston, said that 30 percent of the tons the company processes are exported, with the primary destination historically having been China.

In response to China’s actions, the company has developed alternative markets in India, Southeast Asia and even the U.S. for the nearly 30 percent of its tonnage that was previously shipped primarily to China, he said.

Wen said Southeast Asia offered a tenuous alternative to shipping to China, however, citing problems at the ports in the region related to the “sheer amount of volume” being shipped. Additionally, he said he felt it was only a matter of time before these countries started to enact laws and procedures similar to those China has adopted.

Dylan de Thomas, vice president of industry collaboration with The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, agreed, saying, “Other countries are looking to China for what they want to do in the future.”

He added,” I’m bullish on domestic capacity, personally.”

De Thomas and Bell agreed that educating residents on what is and is not acceptable for recycling is an important factor, as it affects the degree of inbound material contamination material recovery facilities (MRFs) experience. 

Bell said contamination rates of 0.5 percent, as China has specified for incoming plastic scrap shipments, will be difficult to achieve with 15 percent inbound contamination rates at MRFs.

Reducing contamination at the MRF hinges on resident education, which Bell said was a “hard exercise to go through” and that there are no “silver bullets” that can apply in all situations.

As a MRF operator, Bell said, it is important for WM to talk with the communities it serves to see if they still want their recycling programs to include recyclables that may have limited demand and value.

The changes in China’s policies toward imported scrap have created real challenges for municipal programs, de Thomas said, with communities re-evaluating the materials their recycling programs accept. 

While he said improving quality was a “big part” of the answer to the questions posed by China’s recent actions, demand for recycled plastics also must increase.

Bell agreed, saying, “We need demand to exist to make the recycling system work.”

To that end, WM is talking with companies about including recycled content in their products, he said.

While Bell said he supports China’s effort to clean up its environment and have the material quality the country’s consuming companies deserve, he would have liked to have seen a longer time frame for implementation of the government’s changes to import policies.

Leon said he felt the Chinese government “may have gone too far,” adding that “all the plastics they were receiving were not junk.”

“There will be markets for low-grade plastics,” Wen said. “They will take time to develop.”

He continued, “This material has value. It will get recycled somewhere.”

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Nine Dragons reports half-year sales and profit increases

News from Recycling Today - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 01:00
Hong Kong-based Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited has announced its unaudited results for the six-month period ending Dec. 31, 2017. The company reports a sales increase of 34 percent to $4 billion in the half-year, and gross profits that rose by 80 percent compared to the second half of 2016. Nine Dragons also indicates its profit margin rose from 18.3 percent in late 2016 to 24.5 percent in late 207.

In its management discussion and analysis, the firm’s executives say they have developed strategies to cope with the Chinese government’s recovered fiber import restrictions.

The analysis authors write, “As government environmental policy becomes more determined and stringent, and environmental enforcement becomes more extensive and rigorous, [the] group has adopted a proactive strategy to achieve the appropriate balance between selling prices, sales volume and inventory levels for optimal profitability, and has recorded historical high sales revenue and profits during the period.”

In describing its strategy, Nine Dragons’ managers write, “Although the import of recovered paper into China has become more restrictive, the group is still able to maintain a flexible procurement strategy that is based on the selection and purchase of raw materials offering the most optimal cost-value relationship by closely monitoring the market price trends of different sources. The purchase value of domestic recovered paper accounted for approximately 57.3 percent of the total value of the group’s purchase of recovered paper in the period.”

In the outlook section of its analysis, the company’s managers portray Nine Dragons as a firm that can benefit from paper mill capacity cuts in China, and also hints that the scrap import restrictions may yet pose problems.

“Non-compliant capacities in the packaging paperboard industry will continue to be shut down,” write the company’s managers. “New capacities of Nine Dragons Paper will offer more high-quality products to replace low-quality products in the market. Nevertheless, new capacities are expected to emerge during certain periods and imported raw materials will also be tightened, representing challenges to be met by the group.”

Projecting optimism, the managers add, “Nine Dragons Paper will adopt an effective strategy to adjust for changing supply-demand dynamics in the market, and enhance upstream and downstream integration along the supply chain in order to create the optimal synergy for the best shareholders’ value in the long term.”

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Torlizzi Base Metals Report: Aluminum’s supply situation is unclear

News from Recycling Today - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 00:55
Aluminum prices in late February 2018 drifted slightly downward, but remain within sight of a six-year London Metal Exchange (LME) high of $2,290.50 reached in January 2018.

A J.P. Morgan analysis, however, notes that Shanghai Futures Exchange (AHFE) aluminum inventories “continue to surge over the last six months, increasing by some 90 percent.” This has caused the premium of SHFE to LME aluminum to shrink to only $73 per metric ton, versus the five-year average of $305 per metric ton.

J.P. Morgan also notes, “There are some concerns as to what would happen to Chinese aluminum exports in the event that the United States enacts import duties or quotas on aluminum imports, and whether the Chinese exports would go to other markets.”

A Commerzbank analysis, meanwhile, observes, “One can only hope that the Chinese government’s months of fighting ‘illegal’ aluminum smelters will lastingly eliminate the oversupply and generate greater transparency.”

The same analysis also states, however, that despite winter anti-pollution efforts in China that mandated aluminum smelter cutbacks, “Nonetheless, the latest trade figures show that exports of aluminum products [from China] in December 2017 and January 2018 exceeded 390,000 net metric tons in each month, despite the reduction in output. This points to ample supply on the aluminum market.”

Copper began the last week in February with a price rise, as higher imports to China and strong economic data cemented expectations of solid demand from the world’s biggest metal consumer. Three-month copper on the LME closed up 0.2 percent at $7,110 per metric ton, not far from a four-year high of $7,312 achieved the prior month. The red metal struggled later in the same week, as did zinc.

Robust economic data in China reinforced expectations of strong demand for primary metals. Primary copper imports to China rose 13 percent in January 2018 compared to December 2017, while refined nickel imports doubled month-to-month and refined zinc volumes rose by 287 percent.

Chinese imports of scrap metal, meanwhile, fell to the lowest level in nearly two years in January 2018, after restrictions were introduced. Copper scrap imports were down 28 percent year-on-year. The price of copper in China surged in late 2017 on expectations that lower scrap imports to China would increase demand for refined metal.

In the steel sector in China, the municipality of Tangshan has proposed a plan to require local steel mills to lower their production rates by 10 to 15 percent even after the winter cuts are lifted. This could be a positive for global steel prices and for high-grade iron ore producers.

Chart:

Commodities Pricing Trends

   Feb. 26, 2018                       Jan. 15, 2018        % change

LME Copper                                       $7,112                                   $7,206                   -1.30%

SHFE Copper                                      $8,499                                   $8,547                   -0.56%

LME Aluminum                                   $2,139                                   $2,226                   -3.91%

LME Nickel                                          $13,935                                 $12,865                 +8.32%

LME Ferrous Scrap                             $356                                       $371                       -4.04%

SGX Iron Ore                                      $77.50                                   $76.57                   +1.21%

SHFE Rebar                                         $632                                      $591                      +6.94%

 

[Prices per metric ton.]

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ISRI releases ‘2017 Annual Report’

News from Recycling Today - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 05:50
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, has served its members for 30 years. In that time, few years have brought as much change as 2017 did, the association says. ISRI highlights the impact of these changes and the role the organization has played in helping the industry navigate the changing landscape in its 2017 Annual Report.

“Many will look back at 2017 as the year China announced its ban on certain scrap imports,” says ISRI President Robin Wiener. “While this dramatically alters the landscape of our industry, many other changes are also taking place, causing the industry to continue to evolve as it has so many times in the past. Changes in the administration in the U.S., shifting global trade policies, new technologies, an overhaul of the U.S. tax structure and more have all impacted business, markets and trade. Throughout all of this, the one constant has been ISRI working hard to assist and advocate on behalf of our members and the recycling industry,” she adds.

In addition to the industry’s response to China, other ISRI highlights from 2017 covered in the report include:

  • achieving the resumption of the U.S. Mint’s Mutilated Coin Redemption Program;

  • successfully advocating for provisions in the U.S.’s tax reform package to encourage investment in recycling equipment;

  • the creation of the MRF Council to help with issues concerning the collection, recovery and processing of curbside recyclables;

  • the development of guidance for a new NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) trade agreement;

  • state advocacy efforts to promote industry interests among legislators, lieutenant governors, attorneys general and other policymakers;

    a revised safety outreach program;

  • successful education and training programs, including the ISRI Convention & Exposition, Operations Forum, Commodities Roundtable and ISRI Safety & Environmental Council meetings;

  • partnering with groups such as Keep America Beautiful, JASON Learning and Earth911 to promote the benefits of recycling; and

  • releasing a study on the economic impact of the industry;

“ISRI accomplished many positive things for the industry in 2017,” Wiener says. “However, none of it would have been possible without our members and volunteer industry leaders. As we have just concluded our 30th anniversary, we can now look back and see how much the industry has changed and the important role ISRI has played in its evolution thanks to our membership.”

She adds, “With the start of 2018, ISRI is excited for the future that lies ahead.”

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Rigid plastics and film recycling see growth in 2016

News from Recycling Today - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 05:31
Recycling of nonbottle rigid plastics and plastic wraps, bags and flexible film packaging (collectively known as film) grew by 10 percent in 2016, according to two reports from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Washington. More than 1.46 billion pounds of rigid plastics were collected for recycling, while 1.3 billion pounds of film were collected for recycling. 

The “2016 National Post-Consumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report” and the “2016 National Post-Consumer Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Report” were released at the annual Plastics Recycling Conference, which took place in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 19-21.

The reports also show dramatic long-term growth in both plastics recycling categories, the ACC says. The volume of rigid plastics collected for recycling in 2016 is nearly 4.5 times greater than the volume collected in the 2007 inaugural report. Additionally, plastic film recycling has grown for 12 consecutive years and has more than doubled since 2005, when the first report was compiled.

“We are pleased to see the increase in plastic film and rigid plastics recycling in 2016 and the dramatic growth over the last decade,” says Steve Russell, vice president of ACC’s Plastics Division. “America’s plastic makers are committed to supporting plastics recycling growth through improved infrastructure and education and believe that these efforts will continue to support the industry in future years.”

Both reports attribute the increase in material collected for recycling partly to demand from export markets. As a result of China’s 2017 policy restricting imports of scrap materials, including plastics, the plastics recycling value chain is working to develop stronger domestic end markets to continue the increase in plastics recovered for recycling, the ACC says.

“From investments in recycling facilities and advanced technologies to public commitments to use more recycled plastics in products and packaging, we see real dedication from the recyclers and end users to grow end-market opportunities for plastics recycling here in the U.S.,” Russell says.

Recycled plastic film is used in composite lumber, new film and sheet, agricultural products, crates, buckets and pallets, the ACC says, while typical end markets for nonbottle rigids include automotive parts, crates, buckets, pipe, lawn and garden products, and thick-walled injection molded products.

Plastic film includes flexible product wraps, bags and commercial stretch film made primarily from polyethylene.

The rigid plastics category includes food containers; caps; lids; tubs; clamshells; cups and bulky items, such as buckets, carts and lawn furniture; and used commercial scrap, such as crates, battery casings and drums. As in prior years, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) comprised the two largest resins in this category, representing 40 percent and 36 percent, respectively, of total rigid plastics collected.

Both the film and rigids reports were based on an annual survey of reclaimers conducted by More Recycling, based in Sonoma, California.

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TOMRA eyes metal, paper upgrades with new product

News from Recycling Today - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 22:32
Germany-based TOMRA Sorting has introduced its new Laser Object Detection (LOD) system that, when used in combination with its AutoSort and Finder devices, is designed to boost a plant’s sorting capabilities. The firm says the LOD, in combination with the other equipment, can allow “scrap recycling operations to reach final product purity levels unique to the market and never before possible.”

The TOMRA laser technology sorts based on the feed material’s spectral and spatial characteristics, with the new LOD detecting material that near infrared technology (NIR) is incapable of identifying, according to the firm.

“NIR technology cannot detect items such as black plastic and rubber, glass and other waste items,” says Carlos Manchado Atienza, regional director in the Americas for TOMRA Sorting. “By combining our new LOD technology, which can detect these items, with our powerful AutoSort and Finder systems, TOMRA once again leads the industry in developing and adapting technology to meet continually evolving specifications in the market.”

LOD has been designed to offer recycling facilities a low energy, cost-effective solution for meeting tough customer purity requirements, TOMRA indicates. The new TOMRA sorting system can boost final product purity by as much as 4 percent without sacrificing circuit productivity, according to the firm. Its modular design enables the LOD system to be added onto the same platform as existing TOMRA sorting equipment. Alternatively, it can be added as a standalone sorting stage.

The LOD is mechanically mounted to a platform in an arrangement that allows for both large and small feed material to pass under the laser without blockage, the firm’s technicians say.

“LOD is the perfect complement to existing TOMRA equipment within a circuit to give purity levels a boost to meet ever-tightening final product purity requirements such as the China National Sword standard,” says Ralph Uepping, technical director of recycling at TOMRA Sorting. “Increasing product purity levels expands market potential and increases the profit potential for customers.”

The company indicates its new LOD system cost-effectively sorts glass as well as plastic material and black plastic from paper, boosting product quality. Foreground detection technology has been designed to ensure the laser beam only identifies material above the belt, reducing background noise and giving operations the flexibility to use any type of belt feeder for the circuit, according to TOMRA.

LOD also has been designed to separate black rubber, glass and plastic material from nonferrous zorba and zurik products, allowing operations to turn these commodities into more valuable revenue streams while reducing the number of manual pickers, TOMRA indicates.

TOMRA Sorting is owned by Norwegian company TOMRA Systems ASA, which was founded in 1972 and has annual sales of approximately €710 million ($875 million).

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Agilyx announces ribbon cutting date

News from Recycling Today - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 20:13
Agilyx Corporation has announced an April 19, 2018, ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of what it calls the world’s first commercial scale polystyrene-scrap-to-styrene oil chemical recycling plant. The oil is not a fuel, but instead is intended to be reintroduced into the polystyrene (PS) production process.

The April ceremony will be held at the Tigard, Oregon, facility to “launch a week of celebrations, including plant tours by invitation from April 24-26, 2018,” according to the firm.

“The company has been converting [scrap] mixed plastics into crude oil since 2005 and the expansion of our platform to chemically recycle polystyrene (PS) [scrap] back to monomers is a significant advancement to circular economy solutions and a milestone achievement for our company,” says Joe Vaillancourt, CEO of Agilyx. “Polystyrene is a very versatile, cost-effective and valuable polymer used in our everyday lives. However, it is one of the least recycled materials in today’s recycling programs. We are proud to have commercialized the first chemical recycling solution creating a more sustainable end-of-life solution for polystyrene.”

The worldwide consumption of PS is approximately 16 million tons and is expected to grow to 17.5 million tons by 2019, according to Agilyx. In the United States just 1.3 percent of PS is currently recycled, the firm also indicates.

Agilyx is billing the Oregon plant as “the first commercial-scale closed-loop chemical recycling process for polystyrene in the world.” The plant has been designed to recycle up to 10 tons per day of PS scrap to produce styrene oil. The oil can be used by styrene manufacturers AmSty and INEOS Styrolution for processing and blending into virgin polystyrene streams used for manufacturing consumer goods, according to Agilyx.

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Komatsu buys Northeastern US distributor

News from Recycling Today - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 19:48
Rolling Meadows, Illinois-based Komatsu America Corp. has announced that, through its subsidiary F and M Equipment Ltd., it has entered into a purchase agreement with PBE Group, consisting of Pine Bush Equipment Co. Inc. and East PBE Inc.

Via the agreement, Komatsu America will purchase the assets of PBE group, subject to a period of due diligence and final approval of Japan-based Komatsu Ltd. Not included in the sale will be the Kubota line of equipment and parts carried by PBE. The planned closing date for the sale is April 1, 2018.

The new entity, to be named later, will assume PBE Group’s trade territory, which includes all of Connecticut, excluding Fairfield county, and certain counties in southeastern New York state. The agreement covers all Komatsu construction, mining and utility equipment sales and rentals, parts, service and customer support activities.

The Boniface family, who launched the Pine Bush Equipment Company in 1956, will continue with the new operating company, “providing continuity and support as Komatsu continues to strengthen the company’s reputation as a trusted equipment partner in the region,” Komatsu states in a press release.

“We’ve said in the past that Komatsu America is committed to excellence in the Northeast region of the U.S.,” says Rod Schrader, CEO, Komatsu America. “Investments in Midlantic Machinery, Edward Ehrbar, Komatsu Northeast and now Pine Bush, demonstrate the company’s determination to walk our talk. Our goal remains the same: provide the extra support the team in place needs to deliver unrivaled products, services and solutions that exceed customer expectations.”

Once the sale is complete, the new entity will be part of a larger group of distributors, designed to provide more equipment and parts inventory availability and greater service and support resources to customers. “Substantially, all employees, facilities, and customer support infrastructure from PBE Group will be retained,” states Komatsu America.

Komatsu America Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd., the Japan-based manufacturer and supplier of earthmoving machinery that includes construction, mining and compact construction equipment.

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Shelmet announces hire and two promotions

News from Recycling Today - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 18:41
Lake Worth, Florida-based nonferrous metal brokerage Shelmet LLC has announced a new hire and a staff promotion.

Joseph Long will join the Shelmet staff starting March 1, 2018, according to the firm’s Jeff Nadler. Long has previous experience in exporting and will be involved in domestic trading. 

Michael Derer, who has been with the company since 2012, has been promoted to full time aluminum trader at Shelmet, while Nick Villa has been promoted to traffic manager.

“Shelmet LLC is excited about new upcoming ventures and will continue to be the industry’s ‘go to brokers,’” says Nadler.

Shelmet LLC describes itself as a family business established in 1983 that buys and sells all types of scrap metal. The firm indicates it focuses on aluminum, but also trades copper, stainless steel and other alloys.

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