One man's mission for a better resource recovery industry

STEINERT Australia Pty Ltd

Thursday, 23 May, 2019

One man's mission for a better resource recovery industry

Danish innovator and entrepreneur Ejvind Pedersen is a prominent figure in the global industry supplying resources to the automotive sector, turning incineration bottom ash (IBA) into pure metal fractions of raw-material quality. He works with STEINERT to make his vision of closed-loop production a reality.

As a young man, Pedersen left his home in Copenhagen to join a company in the resource industry with factories throughout South America. After many years living in Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru as a technical manager for six plants (including the building of two aluminium smelters to melt used beverage cans), Pedersen and his family returned to Denmark.

The young Pedersen was not proud of what the South American industries were doing to the environment and its people during his time there. He set out to find a high-end resource recovery solution, focusing on metal processing and re-usability to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and the impact of hazardous waste.

In 1989, Pedersen built a plant for melting cans in Denmark, investing €8 million, but the fall of the Berlin wall meant cheap metal overstocked the market and three years later he went bankrupt.

“I lost everything,” he said.

Restarting from scratch

In 2002 Pedersen started over to establish Scanmetals. His persistence and determination led him back to success.

STEINERT was there to help when I needed a solution. They rented me their X-ray (XRT) sorting machine to produce clean aluminium products,” Pedersen recalled.

This was the beginning of Pedersen’s financial independence, which gave him the opportunity to expand his idea throughout Europe. Today, because of Pedersen’s success, there are many different sorting plants in existence that upcycle IBA into primary resources.

Reducing dependency on primary metals

Pedersen said that six years ago no-one believed in the potential of small particles in IBA. “We produce four truckloads of aluminium every day. One can imagine that the resource-hungry industry is waiting for it!” he exclaimed.

The biggest incinerator in Copenhagen produces about 240,000 tons of IBA per year. “We see that approximately 20% of the waste that goes into an incinerator ends up as bottom ash. Within this bottom ash, 2% is metal — pieces that range from 1–100 mm.” At the incinerator, eddy-current separation can lift the value in the bottom ash from 2% up to 50–60%. This treated IBA is available on the market for around €1000 per ton. “This means we pay €2000 for 1 ton of metal. The small pieces are important to me,” Pederson said.

Closed-loop production with accurate separation and sorting technology

Pedersen’s focus is on aluminium and the high-end quality metals acquired from secondary smelters. He explained that his investment in STEINERT technology allows for the accurate removal and reduction of free heavy metals and aluminium alloys. The process starts with a non-ferrous metal separator to recover zorba (a mix of non-ferrous metals such as aluminium, copper, zinc and brass) from the IBA, followed by an induction sorting system that extracts stainless steel.

Image caption: Zorba recovered from incineration bottom ash. Image credit: ©STEINERT.

STEINERT’s sensor sorting and magnetic separation technology services the mining, scrap and waste-recycling industries. The STEINERT XSS T (X-ray transmission) produces very clean aluminium (99.9% pure) by sorting out heavy metals and high-alloyed aluminium. The STEINERT KSS FLI XF (X-ray fluorescence) separates heavy metals into copper, brass, zinc and precious metals, achieving heavy metal products with more than 97% purity.

Customers such as aluminium smelters produce almost 100% of their beverage cans from Scanmetals’ recovered aluminium. Here, the closed-loop approach gets real. Historically, beverage-can producers had to use pure, new aluminium sourced from mines. Now, Scanmetals’ customers are so satisfied with the quality of the company’s recovered resources that they no longer need to buy primary aluminium from the mines. As an added bonus, recovered aluminium can be recycled up to 10 times without losing its quality. This closed-loop system means that companies can improve their sustainability record by using high-quality secondary raw material.

Delivering just in time

Not only is material quality a key component to success, but resource delivery time — ‘just in time’ — also plays a role. Reliable machinery is crucial for material recovery success. Pedersen has tailored his business in accordance to his customers’ needs and market demands to ensure efficient delivery of resources.

Winning success

Accepting his 2018 ‘Innovation’ award for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Pedersen was acknowledged for his contribution to the industry via impressive business growth rates, innovative strength and social commitment. He called on others to create jobs that will save resources.

Top image caption: Scanmetals CEO Ejvind Pedersen with his companion, Tiger. Image credit: ©STEINERT.

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