China’s willingness to pump out primary aluminum while banning scrap imports has created low aluminum scrap prices worldwide.

Aluminum scrap is flowing at record volumes from North America and Europe to India and Southeast Asia, but the new demand has not been enough “to fill the hole China is leaving behind,” according to a speaker at the Nonferrous Division meeting of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR). The Brussels-based BIR held its 2019 World Recycling Convention in May in Singapore.

Henry Van, a Singapore-based aluminum industry analyst with CRU International Ltd., said the action by China’s government to restrict scrap imports has created a “supply side shock” in the United States aluminum scrap market. China’s aluminum scrap import volumes in February 2019 “were the lowest in more than a decade,” said Van.

Some of that scrap is still finding its way to China after being shipped to Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and other nations near China, where it is melted and cast at facilities in those countries. Another beneficiary of the new supply glut is India, where investments in secondary production are being made by global firms including India-based Hindalco and Japan-based Daiki.

Even with such investments, the rest of the world “doesn’t have critical mass in secondary [production] to replace China,” stated Van. The result has been “historically cheap” aluminum scrap prices in the U.S., with a scrap trading at a premium of as much as 19 cents per pound.

Both Van and fellow presenter Thomas McMahon, who works in Singapore for Texas-based metals trading firm Dillon Gage, said aluminum scrap is nonetheless poised for a bright future.

Van said CRU is forecasting that recycled metal demand will grow globally in both absolute volume and in market share. While secondary aluminum had 29 percent global market share in 2018, CRU sees that figure rising to 35 percent by 2028. Some of that growth will occur in China, which Van estimates uses just 10 percent scrap as feedstock in aluminum production.

McMahon said that in an era of increased attention to climate change, metal recycling “conserves natural resources, uses less energy than making metal from virgin ore, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions” compared to primary production.

Eric Tan of Malaysia-based SDM Specialty Chemicals provided delegates with an update on a 400-acre recycling park being built in that nation, despite some concerns there on scrap import policies.

Tan said Malaysia has several environmental laws that focus on the handling of potentially hazardous materials. The interpretation and enforcement of one of them seems to have resulted in an import ban on “oil-filled” scrap wire or cable, also referred to as jelly cable.

A rush by China-based recycling companies to set up shop in Malaysia created numerous unlicensed facilities, some of which began stockpiling material that attracted negative attention. Tan warned the BIR delegates the public perception toward recycling in Malaysia is “very bad,” largely because of “illegal plastic recycling facilities.” He added, “Do not follow in the footsteps of the illegal plastic recyclers. It’s hurting the reputation of recycling.”

To help address the issue, Tan said his firm and other metals companies are in the process of chartering the Malaysia Non-Ferrous Metals Association “to become a central hub for the nonferrous industry in the Southeast Asia region.”

The 2019 BIR World Recycling Convention & Exhibition was held May 19-22 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

Austria-based Untha shipped its first waste shredder to a Geocycle plant in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Geocycle, headquartered in Switzerland, serves as a worldwide waste management firm. According to a news release from Untha, Geocycle will be processing various waste materials with the XR3000C mobil-e shredder for clients throughout Ecuador.

Able to handle plastic, paper and wood from industrial waste producers, with biomass and municipal solid waste (MSW) projects also on the horizon, the goal of Geocycle’s new shredding line is to maximize recycling and energy recovery rates, Untha reports in a news release. This is part of the brand’s global co-processing initiative to utilize existing cement facilities to resolve local waste challenges sustainably. 

With the upstream infrastructure still under development, exact capacity capabilities are yet to be confirmed, Untha reports in a news release. However, the company notes that trials have indicated that the high-throughput XR3000C can achieve the volumes required by the manufacturer. 

“Globally, our business is striving to create a zero-waste future, and we see pre- and co-processing facilities as a crucial part in this strategy,” says Dorin Pepenel, Geocycle’s Ecuador director. “With Untha’s help, we’re helping Ecuadorian businesses transform waste into ‘ready for co-processing’ materials. We’ve invested in flexible, high-capacity, single-step shredding equipment, supported with world-class engineering support, so we are extremely excited about this plant becoming fully operational.”

He adds, “A renewable mindset is fast emerging in this country, so we hope this waste processing facility will prove the catalyst to further progress.”

According to a news release from Untha, the manufacturer supplied shredding plants to other Geocycle plants in Bulgaria, Vietnam, Spain, Mexico and Argentina to name a few. More than 9,000 Untha shredders are now in operation worldwide.

Raw Material Data Aggregation Service (RMDAS) ferrous scrap pricing as measured by mill purchases by Pittsburgh-based MSA Inc. has demonstrated a $30 per ton average decline in May.

The RMDAS price averages, released May 20, cover a buying period that reaches into the third week of the month. U.S. scrap prices dropped $31 per ton on average, while prompt industrial composite grade fell $37 and No. 1 heavy melting steel (HMS) declined by $31 nationally.

Regionally, prompt grades fell more sharply in the North Central/East region, by $39 per ton, while they fell by $36 per ton in the RMDAS North Midwest region and $31 per ton in the South. Prompt grades retain the highest value in the North Central/East at $329 per ton compared with $325 in the North Midwest and $327 in the South.

Shredded scrap and No. 1 HMS fell between $27 and $34 per ton in all three regions. In May, mills in the North Central/East and South paid an average $298 per ton for shredded scrap, while mills in the North Midwest paid an average $297 per ton. Mills in the North Central/East paid less for No. 1 HMS, at an average $269 per ton, compared with $277 in the North Midwest and $282 in the South.

The project schedule currently anticipates a Q4 2019 financial closing and commencement of operations in Q4 2021.

CorrVentures LLC, a private development firm specializing in strategic project development in the pulp and paper and corrugated packaging markets, announced its intention to build and operate a 300,000 ton-per-year 100 percent recycled lightweight containerboard mill located on a 102 acre site about 9 miles south of Albany, New York. 

According to a news release from CorrVentures, it is anticipated that a minimum of 200 new construction jobs will be created directly as a result of this effort, with substantial additional jobs being created through the multiplier effect to the surrounding Rensselaer County, New York, community. The project, also known as the Hudson Valley Paperboard Project, currently anticipates a Q4 2019 financial closing and commencement of commercial operations in Q4 2021.

The project is subject to approval of state and local incentives, which have been offered to projects of a similar nature in New York, including sizable New York State Brownfield Program refundable tax credits. According to a news release from CorrVentures, the mill’s geographic location is well-suited to secure primary old corrugated container (OCC) raw material supply, available to the mill by common carrier, rail and deep-water barge.

The CorrVentures development team reports that it has experience and prior success in designing, building and operating business facilities similar to those planned for the project, as well as in managing printing and packaging businesses with significant purchase requirements for recycled containerboard. The founders of CorrVentures include Charles P. Klass (chairman), Stephen R. Read (president and CEO), Jan Lambert (executive vice president) and Eric Lawrence (executive vice president and treasurer).

The corporate investment and off-take partners participating in this venture will consist of major independent corrugated packaging and corrugated sheet feeder operations based in the North Central and Northeastern United States as well as Canada, CorrVentures reports in a news release. Each of these companies will be selected for approach based on their established history and strong reputation of success in the industry.

The Hudson Valley Paperboard Project will be built by a globally recognized firm that will have complete responsibility for the design, engineering, procurement and construction of the new lightweight containerboard mill operations. The contractor will provide appropriate completion and performance guarantees as required by the Project lenders and stakeholders.

CorrVentures reports that it has retained Piper Jaffray as its exclusive investment banker to assist in structuring and placing the non-recourse senior secured financing for the project. Acorn Street Capital, based in both Boston and New York City, has recently joined the CorrVentures team as an investment partner.

Operations will highlight state-of-the-art proven recycling and papermaking technologies from across North America and abroad, CorrVentures reports in a news release. The paper machine will include starch surface treatment and optimized calendering to provide enhanced strength and excellent printability.

Swedish recycling firm Ragn-Sells has selected AMCS Group, Limerick, Ireland, a leading supplier of integrated software and vehicle technology for the waste and recycling industry, as their logistics and transport planning partner to optimize commercial, construction and hazardous waste collections. AMCS and Ragn-Sells are working together on implementing AMCS’s fleet management solution at Ragn-Sells, the company says in a news release.

“After a thorough investigation of several transport optimization software vendors, AMCS’s solution proved to be the most fitting for Ragn-Sells operational needs”, says Vidar Svenning Olsen, head of group function operations at Ragn-Sells.

He adds, “Waste handling and transportation requires an extended way of planning compared to ordinary distribution and together with a smooth and user-friendly interface, we are happy to partner up with AMCS for the future.”

Ragn-Sells has an extensive logistics operation and network in place with ample opportunity for optimization, which would not only benefit the company in cutting costs, but more importantly would benefit the environment by reducing its carbon footprint, the release says.

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The chosen AMCS solution consists of a route planning module for pre-execution master route optimization, an operational planning module for dynamic route optimization and route maintenance, ad-hoc orders and real-time optimization with live monitoring, as well as estimated time of arrival calculations. The solution also contains several smaller add-on components that will provide additional capabilities, including a mobile solution for drivers, a web portal for the transporters and a live GPS tracking portal.

“AMCS is excited to be working with Ragn-Sells towards a more efficient future with digital transformation and environmental friendliness,” remarks Lasse Jiborn, head of intelligent optimization at AMCS. “It’s crucial that major players, such as Ragn-Sells, lead the way in a waste management industry that have shown to be reluctant in the face of change.”

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