Latest Leadpoint Business Services News
Dec 15, 2020
Leadpoint names vice president of business development Mike Huycke previously worked for Republic Services. Leadpoint Business Services, the Phoenix-based provider of work teams and operations support services to the recycling industry, has hired Mike Huycke as vice president of business development. He is based at the company’s Phoenix headquarters. Huycke has extensive experience in recycling and waste industry operations, including nearly 25 years with Republic Services, Leadpoint notes in a news release about his hiring. Most recently, he was senior vice president of human resources at Republic. He previously served as Republic’s Northwest area president with responsibility for operations, market development, compliance and labor relations, safety and customer experience. “We are delighted to welcome Mike to Leadpoint and know he is the right person to take on this critical role in the company,” says Frank Ramirez, Leadpoint CEO and president. “Mike’s industry knowledge, credibility and stellar reputation will help us accelerate our growth trajectory and add value to the service we provide each of our customers.” Huycke is a graduate of Willamette University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in business economics. He also completed an advanced HR executive program at the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business. Cambridge, United Kingdom-based consultancy IDTechEx says the European Commission’s proposed regulations on lithium-ion sustainability include a requirement for the use of recycled-content lithium, cobalt and nickel in lithium-ion batteries sold in the European Union. Calling the proposed EC regulations “stricter,” the consultancy says they are “intended to improve the sustainability of batteries, including li-ion, by reducing carbon footprint, use of hazardous materials, and increasing the use of responsibly sourced material.” Requiring cells and batteries to have a lower CO2 footprint and more sustainable and transparent material use may give emerging battery producers in Europe “an advantage, having designed-in sustainability strategies from the start, over [Asia-based] companies such as LG Chem, CATL, or Samsung,” writes IDTechEx. Continues the consultancy, “As part of minimizing the impact from li-ion battery production, recycling will be key, and the EC is proposing stricter requirements on li-ion battery collection rates, with cell manufacturers potentially being required to include minimum percentages of recycled material, including lithium (4 percent), cobalt (12 percent), and nickel (20 percent).” The proposed regulation also imposes a requirement for 100 percent collection of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Also, consumer devices such as smartphones may be required to design for removable batteries. According to IDTechEX, “Batteries for consumer devices are rich in cobalt and could therefore be a valuable resource if they can be more easily collected.” The firm calls battery li-ion battery recycling “an industry forecast for substantial growth, and there is evidence that this is now beginning to happen .” The U.K. company says its “full portfolio of energy storage market research, including on li-ion, solid-state batteries, flow batteries and hydrogen,” is listed on this web page . Paper recyclers are facing a trend of more packaging or “brown” grades generated and an ongoing reduction in communication or “white” grades of scrap paper. For recyclers who operate material recovery facilities (MRFs) that take in mixed material streams, using optical sorters to find every last piece of white paper has been one response. Felix Hottenstein, sales director of Tennessee-based MSS Optical Sorters, which is part of the California-based CP Group, says his company’s FiberMax optical sorting technology has been adopted by several companies who want to stay in the high-grades scrap paper game even in the face of declining generation. MSS is one of several companies offering such technology to recycling plant operators. (For a complete list of such companies, search the category “Separation Systems, Imaging” on this web page .) “We have definitely seen the trend of positively sorting out newspaper and mixed paper out of contaminated fiber streams,” says Hottenstein. He says optical equipment can be configured to adjust to material streams and markets, however. “The selective sorting capabilities of optical sorters allow the operator to make specific adjustments and decisions based on incoming composition and outgoing quality requirements, such as whether to sort out the old corrugated containers (OCC) or not,” says the equipment supplier. Installing one or more optical sorting devices will use up a percentage of a MRF’s capital equipment budget, so plant operators measure the potential return on investment (ROI) carefully and in several ways, says Hottenstein. “ROI is calculated by mainly using two metrics,” he comments. A higher volume of material at a consistent quality can boost income, while replacing hard to find (and increasingly higher paid) manual pickers can yield cost savings. A device like the FiberMax, says Hottenstein, “can perform so many more picks per minute than any manual quality control station; the quality of the generated paper grade is always better and definitely more consistent.” Regarding the labor situation, he says, “MRFs are currently having a very hard time even finding manual sorters in the labor pool, and only automation such as the FiberMax can solve this issue.” In California, MRF operator Recology has installed three optical devices made by France-based Pellenc to help sort fiber at its Recycle Central facility in San Francisco. “We’re very happy with that installation; I like the Pellenc units a lot,” Recology General Manager Maurice Quillen told Recycling Today for a March 2020 article . “We are sub-1 percent contamination on our fiber bales at this point, and we are negatively sorting fiber. I don’t think there are too many MRFs that are negatively sorting fiber at sub-1 percent contamination, and the Pellenc optical sorters are key to that whole process.” Farther up the United States Pacific Coast in the Pacific Northwest, Hottenstein says FiberMax units installed at a MRF in that region have earned similar praise. An analysis of two FiberMax units installed there in 2017 to upgrade the old newspapers (ONP) grade showed a 62 percent savings in manual sorter costs, and an ability for the ONP grade “to meet new foreign market requirements of 0.5 percent ONP contamination after quality control.” As in the metals and plastics sectors, optical devices seem poised to be part of the future of paper recycling. “The consistency and higher sorting performance of [optical units] allow MRFs to produce a consistent quality in order to receive the standard market price,” states Hottenstein. The world seems poised to face an ever larger stream of end-of-life batteries generated both from IT devices and electric vehicles (EVs). Presentations at the International WEEE & Battery Recycling Virtual Conference offered insight into some of the efforts to introduce new technology to cope with the rising tide of discarded batteries. Switzerland-based Kyburz, which makes small EVs for (predominantly) work applications, has developed technology to recycle batteries used in its own vehicles and those of others. The multi-stage process has been designed to yield clean aluminum and copper foils extracted from end-of-life lithium iron phosphate (LFP or LiFePO4) batteries, as well as lithium iron phosphate, recyclable plastic and graphite. Farther north in Finland, energy producer Fortum made an acquisition early in 2020 designed in part to allow it to scale up an emerging lithium-ion battery recycling technology. According to Kalle Saarimaa, Fortum’s vice president of recycling and waste solutions, the company acquired the hydrometallurgical technology because it can achieve “almost 100 percent recycling rates” for materials found in lithium-ion batteries. Adds Saarimaa of the Fortum effort, “We are ready to take the scale up, and planning to invest.” The nature of battery recycling will require mechanical separation and refining steps, he commented, and seeking the best technology to take those steps. Singapore-based Green Li-ion also is among companies with technology designed to create marketable materials from collected end-of-life batteries. Leon Farrant, the firm’s co-founder and CEO, described Green Li-ion as having developed “a battery rejuvenation machine” he described in part as “a chemical reactor the size of a small apartment.” The hydrometallurgical process can produce one ton of 99.9 percent pure battery cathode every 10 hours without pre-sorting of batteries required, said Farrant. He said the process could be particularly helpful if future global initiatives involve increased collection of batteries harbored in homes and apartments, or the landfill mining of those already discarded. The global spread of such technology is vital, said Joseph Nforbin, managing director of Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based e-scrap recycling firm Madenat Al Nokhba Recycling Services LLC. “The closer a proper recycling facility is to us, the better to avoid transboundary movement of those hazardous materials,” he remarked. Consultant Willy Tomboy of Belgium-based Detomserve said laws designed to increase collection and mandatory battery recycling are taking shape in the European Union. “I see a lot of major changes next year that will have a serious impact on people throughout the value chain,” he said of the EU effort to impose collection systems and materials recycling targets for batteries. “There is lots of opportunity in this space, given there is such a risk to the [critical] metals market,” said Farrant. Metals like cobalt and lithium are finite resources and “they cost a lot to the environment to extract them,” he added. Farrant continued, “The opportunity is about the full rejuvenation of these materials and these batteries. How do we take these and use every part of them to create a new battery?” The International WEEE & Battery Recycling Virtual Conference , which took place Dec. 9, 2020, was organized by Waste & Recycling Middle East & Africa magazine and co-hosted by the Recycling Today Media Group. Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (HHIG) , Ulsan, South Korea, announced it has been selected as the preferred bidder to acquire Seoul, South Korea-based Doosan Infracore . Once the acquisition process is completed, the group's affiliate, Hyundai Construction Equipment, combined with Doosan Infracore, will become the No. 5 player in the global construction machinery market, the company says. Doosan Group selected the HHIG-KDB Investment Consortium as the preferred bidder and reported it to its creditors, including Korea Development Bank. The two sides aim to conclude the main contract by the end of 2020 after additional negotiations. HHIG will acquire a 36.07 percent stake in Doosan Infracore, excluding Doosan Bobcat. The acquisition price is said to be in the mid-$700 billion won (approximately $640 million) range.