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Plastics Recycling World Expo to feature Amcor’s David Clark

Aug 18, 2021

Plastics Recycling World Expo to feature Amcor’s David Clark The company’s vice president of sustainability will participate in a session on collaboration. David Clark, vice president of sustainability at Amcor , who works out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will speak at this year's Plastics Recycling World Expo in North America. Clark’s key focus areas and responsibilities include reducing the footprint of Amcor's operations and products; using more sustainable materials including more postconsumer recycled plastics; working with the organization’s innovation teams, customers and others to develop Amcor's packaging to be recyclable or reusable and working with industry coalitions to deliver solutions to plastic waste. He will contribute to the industry debate, “Confronting the plastics packing challenge head-on: can solutions be found through industry-wide collaboration,” on the first day of the Plastics Recycling World Expo conference, hosted by AMI  Nov. 3-4 in Cleveland. The program is available at . What are the biggest challenges facing the market today, and how can they be overcome? Our biggest challenge is poor waste management infrastructure and recycling. CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies and the packaging industry are making great progress toward making all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable. But many consumers don’t have access to recycling that accepts those products that are proven to be recyclable in other regions. In your opinion, what do you consider to be the greatest development in your industry in the last decade? The greatest development is the alignment we’re seeing across consumer brands, retailers and the rest of the value chain to solve the plastic waste issue. Examples include recent work by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to introduce “Golden Design Rules” to make plastic packaging more recyclable, and work by CGF and EMF (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) to align industry to support good producer responsibility legislation to fund recycling. How do you see the sector developing in the next five to 10 years? Continued alignment and progress along the lines of product design for better end-of-life (recyclability, reuse and compostability) and collaboration to increase recycling infrastructure and consumer participation in recycling. You will be speaking at AMI’s plastics industry expos in Cleveland in November, could you give us a preview on what you will be talking about? I’m looking forward to a good “debate” about whether industrywide collaboration can help solve the plastics packaging challenge. I think the answer will be yes, up to a point. We’ll have some good examples of what has been done and what can be done, but industry can’t solve the problem in a vacuum. We’ll need collaboration from governments and consumer participation too. A Recology residential driver in Eureka, California, has been heralded a local hero for jumping into action after witnessing a fire near his collection route. As reported by KRCR TV , Matt Taylor was tipping bins during his morning route on Aug. 10 when he noticed a plume of smoke coming from about a block away and immediately drove to the house it was coming from. Taylor stopped his truck, set the parking brake, saw a resident standing across the street, and yelled, “Did you call 911?” “Yes,” the bystander said. Taylor then asked if people lived at the residence, which the bystander confirmed. This is when Taylor jumped out of his truck and ran to the house. He reportedly pounded on the front door and shouted for the people inside to come out. The 17-year-old granddaughter of Catherine Bauer, owner of the house, heard Taylor’s pounding and shouting. The granddaughter woke up Bauer, and she came to the front door. That’s when Taylor told Bauer, “Your house is on fire! Get out now!” Bauer, her two adult sons, and her granddaughter started evacuating. Two fire engines arrived shortly after as the family escaped their home unharmed. Catherine’s daughter-in-law Maridee Farmer told KRCR TV that were it not for Taylor’s actions, they “couldn’t imagine how this would have turned out.” Taylor is a lifelong resident of Eureka and has worked for Recology Humboldt County for 14 years, according to the company. "Not only does he service the neighborhood where he spotted the second-story fire, Matt grew up about a block away. He remembers playing as a child in a tree that is still standing across the street from Catherine’s house," Recology states in an Aug. 13 press release. “Matt cares a lot about his customers and his community," Operations Manager Frank Nelson says, adding that he also "showed himself to also be a man of courage" when it came to his actions Aug. 10. General Manager Linda Wise adds, “I’m not surprised Matt would come to someone’s rescue. He has found keys, cell phones, wallets and has sought to get them back to their owners. Most, if not all, of our drivers are like that, looking out for the people on their routes. Matt has made his family and Recology very proud.” Analyzing the chemistry of inbound material has long been beneficial for buyers of scrap metal, with different aluminum, stainless and red metal alloys yielding different prices on the market. Methods of identification and analysis have evolved over the course of several decades, but one of the bigger leaps came about in the 1990s when hand-held portable analyzer “guns” started becoming more widely available (and affordable) to scrap recyclers For an overview of how this type of equipment has evolved and where it currently stands, Recycling Today has interviewed industry veteran Don Sackett, the co-founder and CEO of United States-based SciAps Inc. Recycling Today (RT): Why were the first metals analyzing “guns” created back in the mid- and late 1990s, and what equipment or processes could they replace? Don Sackett (DS): There were two semiportable “guns” available in the mid -1980s through the late 1990s. One was made by Texas Nuclear (TN) and the other by Metorex (a Finnish company). Prior to these “guns” scrap processors used a number of techniques to sort material at a very basic level. The simplest was the grinding wheel. Stainless steel, nickel alloys and titanium alloys, for example, all emit different color light and shape of sparks when hit with a grinding wheel. Some recyclers used magnets, knowing that some alloys like a Monel (nickel-copper alloy) slightly pull on a magnet, or stainless, which doesn’t in comparison to a ferrous material. Also, there was a device called the “foos,” where you turned a handle rapidly, looked through an optic, and by viewing the different color spectral lines, could determine the likely alloy type. All of these techniques required either a very knowledgeable operator, or they only sorted crudely by alloy type (e.g., a titanium alloy versus a copper alloy, etc.). When the first spectrometers came out, like the TN and Metorex analyzers, operators could then sort by grade as opposed to just alloy type. For example, they could determine if the alloy was a titanium 6-4 or 6-6-2 or 6-2-4-2 instead of just a titanium grade. The same goes for the wide variety of nickel and nickel/copper superalloys. Thus, this generation of “guns” allowed recyclers to sort alloys much more specifically, faster, allowing them to sell the sorted product at higher prices. Also, unlike the older techniques, many more operators could become proficient at using these analyzers faster, eliminating the purely “tribal knowledge” approach to metal sorting. I have not yet mentioned the mobile arc/spark spectrometers. These devices also were available in the early ‘90s, perhaps earlier. They were not hand-held and required a high degree of operator knowledge to get good sorting results, but these OES (optical emission spectroscopy) devices were also highly selective alloy sorters. Also, unlike the XRF (X-ray fluorescence) units (TN and Metorex) the spark units were much better on aluminum alloys, and the lighter elements (magnesium, silicon, aluminum, phosphorus, sulfur) in general. And, they did not use a radioactive isotope as their excitation, also an advantage. RT: Which metals were targeted initially for portable analysis? What upgrades to hand-held analyzers have been the focus of R&D subsequently? DS: XRF portable analysis excels at measuring transition and heavy metals, including titanium, chromium, manganese, nickel, cobalt, niobium, tungsten, etc. These metals and related alloys also tend to be the higher priced material for resale after sorting. Thus, the hand-held XRF units in the 1990s and 2000s initially targeted stainless and high-temp alloys and some red metals. They did this because the technique is ideal for these types of elements/alloys (still is) and because these alloys commanded higher prices than aluminum or ferrous. There were three major upgrades to the handhelds during the past 20 years. The first upgrade occurred around 2002, when two companies (InnovX and Niton, now Olympus and Thermo Fisher respectively) replaced the radioactive isotope with a miniature X-ray tube. The X-ray tube had two significant advantages over the radioactive source. First, it wasn’t radioactive, so the regulatory requirements were far less stringent both in costs and paperwork headaches, especially post 9/11 when everyone feared dirty bombs. The second was that the X-ray tube could excite a wider range of elements. In the old isotope XRF units, you needed three different radioactive sources to see the full range of elements from titanium to bismuth. The X-ray tube could output X-rays that could excite all these elements. The second major upgrade occurred in the 2009 to 2010 time frame, when a new detector technology called silicon drift detectors (SDDs) became available in handhelds. Again, InnovX and Niton (now Thermo) introduced these innovations. These SDD detectors replaced the prior detector technology called PiN diode detectors. The SDD’s offered three substantial advantages: a) They could count X-rays about 10 times faster than the PiN, meaning that a given measurement achieved higher precision, three times faster in time; b) the SDDs could measure all the way down to milligrams, which then meant that hand-held XRF guns could do a good job measuring aluminum and magnesium alloys, and also measure phosphorus and sulfur in steels and coppers. Until SDDs became available, hand-held XRF units really could only sort aluminum alloys crudely, by major series like 2024 type or 3003 type, since they could not measure silicon or magnesium and, thus, could not distinguish, for example, a 2024 from a 2014, etc. The third major upgrade came in the form of an alternative technology to hand-held XRF guns. In 2015 or thereabouts, SciAps, Hitachi and TSI all introduced hand-held devices using a laser, rather than X-ray, to excite the material. These devices were called LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy). The early devices offered better performance on the “light elements” (silicon, magnesium and aluminum) and thus were largely used for aluminum alloy sorting. They also offered the advantage of completely eliminating X-ray radiation, and thus the registration requirements that ionizing radiation like X-rays required from some – not all – state agencies. In the early days, many believed that the LIBS devices would completely replace XRF units. However, over time it became clear that XRF remained a superior technology on stainless, high temps and often red metals, which relegated LIBS to aluminum alloys (where it’s very good) and niche applications like measuring lithium in aluminum, beryllium in copper alloys, boron in aluminum, stainless steels and nickel alloys – basically elements that XRF couldn’t measure. In some cases, recyclers have switched to LIBS for all their operations because they wanted to eliminate radiation-based units (X-ray tubes) entirely, regardless of the fact that XRF provides superior results on stainless and high temps. RT: How can the SciAps X-550 help aluminum recyclers be more profitable? What are the ideal applications for this model? (At the scale house; elsewhere in the field?) DS: At SciAps, we were always bothered that XRF technology was viewed so poorly for aluminum alloys. There’s good reason for this. To sort aluminum alloys effectively and fast, you need to measure magnesium fast, and silicon also. Now, the X-rays emitted by magnesium are very low in energy—they are easily blocked by air and other materials—so it is very difficult to measure magnesium by a hand-held XRF. At SciAps , when we started designing the X-550, we knew we could measure stainless and high temps fast and precisely – just as most other hand-held XRF brands can do. So, we decided to focus our design effort on fast measurements of magnesium and silicon. Do that and you can do a great job on aluminums because the other elements in aluminum alloys (like chromium, manganese, copper, zinc, zirconium and nickel) are a natural for XRF. So, we created a really fast XRF for aluminum alloys – as fast as it is on high temps or stainless. This creation inevitably leads to more profitability on aluminum. Aluminum is light weight, so you have to sort a lot of it quickly to make money. The X-550 was designed for just that --- be fast and precise on aluminum alloys as well as everything else. The key was our design that yielded fast magnesium and silicon measurements. In terms of ideal applications – scale house, aluminum and red metals station, or turnings. Because the X-550 is fast and precise on both aluminum and other metals, you can use it anywhere. RT: What might be the next frontier or new applications for hand-held analyzers? DS: I’d say the next frontier is to make limits of detection lower and lower. For example, in oil and gas, they are requiring the steel to have low residuals for many applications. This means the sum of chromium plus copper plus nickel at less than 0.15 percent and also niobium and vanadium at less than 0.02 percent, with niobium plus vanadium at less than 0.03 percent. The consumers are pushing these limits onto the foundries. The foundries use a lot of recycled steel, so they want material that meets these requirements from the recyclers. In turn, the recyclers can charge a premium if they can guarantee residual metals meet the various upper limits. We’re hearing this for certain elements in nickel and copper alloys too. Therefore, is believe that the next generation hand-held units need to drive limits of detection lower and lower. Australia-based BlueScope Steel Ltd. has reported net profit after tax (NPAT) of $1.19 billion, a $1.1 billion increase over its 2020 fiscal year, driven by strong demand and steel spreads, according to the company. Its North Star steel mill in the United States delivered underlying earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of $677.2 million, an increase of 257 percent from the 2020 fiscal year. The company says realized steel spreads were significantly stronger and mill operation remained at 100 percent of available capacity. The company says U.S. steel industry consolidation and rationalization, government infrastructure investment and robust end-use demand have led to very strong Midwest hot-rolled coil (HRC) demand. BlueScope is expanding its North Star minimill in Delta, Ohio, by roughly 850,000 metric tons annually, with the company saying it expects the first coil to be produced in the second half of its 2022 fiscal year, with commissioning to full capacity occurring over the subsequent 18 months. “The success of the project means BlueScope will begin to assess the debottlenecking project to potentially lift hot strip mill capacity by another 500,000 [metric tons] per annum as we progress through the ramp-up period of the current expansion project,” the company notes in its fiscal 2021 annual results. BlueScope Managing Director and CEO Mark Vassella says, “Underlying EBIT for the year was $1.72 billion, tripling that of FY2020. This is an impressive result. All operating segments performed exceptionally well, driven by strong demand and steel spreads. Earnings momentum built throughout the year, with the company delivering $1.19 billion in underlying EBIT in the second half. “Operating cash flow for the year, after capital expenditure, was $898 million, including investment expenditure on the North Star expansion. The balance sheet finished the half in a strong position with $798 million net cash,” he continues. BlueScope says it plans to accelerate its strategic growth plans in light of the yearly results. Vasella says the company will invest for the long-term growth and resilience and position the business for a low-carbon future with a five-year climate investment program of up to $150 million and the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Vassella says, “This immediate capital allocation will fund our technology plan that seeks to optimize current operating assets and prepare for emerging and breakthrough technologies. Immediately, we’ll focus on production efficiencies, such as increased usage of scrap, indigenous gases and renewable energy. We are actively investigating the use of biochar as a replacement for a proportion of pulverized coal injection into the blast furnace and are seeking government co-funding for this and other pilot projects, including a hydrogen electrolyzer to trial hydrogen injection in the blast furnace. And we will be developing government and industry partnerships, collaborative opportunities with suppliers and breakthrough R&D projects.” He adds, “We are serious about playing our role in meeting the decarbonization challenge. Our recent appointment of a chief executive climate change was a significant step forward; this capital allocation is the second step, and there is more to come.” The company says will share details of its climate action plan, including a decarbonization pathway and a capital planning process to underpin it, when it releases its Climate Action Report in September. GFL Environmental Inc. , Ontario, Canada, announced Aug. 17 that it has closed the previously announced acquisition of the solid waste and environmental solutions business of Terrapure Environmental Ltd. and its subsidiaries. The acquisition excludes Terrapure’s battery recycling business. On March 15, GFL announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the solid waste and environmental solutions business of Terrapure for an aggregate purchase price of $743.8 million. Terrapure is an Ontario-based integrated provider of solid and liquid waste management and industrial services to more than 7,000 customers across Canada. Terrapure's environmental and organics solutions cover a diverse range of waste streams from generation through collection, processing, recovery, recycling, reuse and disposal. These services are managed through the company’s integrated network of assets, including its landfill and its liquid and solid waste collection and processing facilities. Terrapure's operations are supported by a fleet of more than 500 collection vehicles and approximately 1,600 employees. Terrapure's operations acquired in the acquisition generated revenue of approximately $292.7 million in 2020, inclusive of COVID-related volume impacts. According to GFL, the acquisition advances the company’s growth strategy and aligns with the company's goal of growing free cash flow. During the initial announcement of the deal, GFL laid out three ways the acquisition will benefit the company: It will enhance GFL’s capabilities and reach. According to the company, the acquisition brings a high-quality, complementary asset network and customer base to GFL's existing operations and augments GFL's existing service offerings in several regional markets, including Atlantic Canada. As part of the acquisition, GFL will acquire the Stoney Creek landfill, an industrial landfill strategically located in the greater Toronto area which recently received expansion approval for 14-plus years. It will create significant synergies. According to the company, the acquisition creates an opportunity for GFL to realize meaningful synergies and earnings accretion. The company expects the acquisition to generate at least $36.1 million of adjusted free cash flow and at least $10 million in annual cost synergies through operational opportunities from geographical and functional overlap between the existing operations of Terrapure and GFL. It will create long-term shareholder value. According to the company, the acquisition reinforces GFL's goal of creating long-term equity value for shareholders. Terrapure's strategically located network of assets coupled with its strong operating margins are expected to be immediately accretive to free cash flow and provide opportunities for the company to continue to pursue its growth strategy. "The acquisition of Terrapure is another example of GFL delivering on our commitment to pursue strategic and accretive acquisitions to continue growing our business," Patrick Dovigi, founder and CEO of GFL, says. "Terrapure brings a high-quality, complementary network of assets and customer base to our existing solid and liquid waste operations and expands our service offerings in several regional markets. This strategically located network of assets and Terrapure's strong operating margins are expected to be immediately accretive to free cash flow and provide opportunities for us to continue to pursue our growth strategy." "We are excited to welcome the over 1,600 Terrapure employees to the GFL family," Dovigi concluded.

  • What is Metorex's latest funding round?

    Metorex's latest funding round is Other Investors.

  • Who are the investors of Metorex?

    Investors of Metorex include Endeavour Vision.

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