It’s been quite a year for recyclers. Unpredictable, sometimes frustrating, yet hopeful. Let’s review some of the most significant developments of the year.
We won’t soon forget 2023. It’s the year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the magazine. It was also a year full of conflict and economic uncertainty, impacting the sales of shredders and other recycling technology. It also notably rocked the scrap trade across virtually all commodities.
Nickel and stainless steel fought to balance their position after a hectic 2022. Meanwhile, plastics recyclers have been dealing with unreasonably high energy prices and intense competition from virgin plastic producers and, more recently, chemical recyclers.
In the non-ferrous segment, Aurubis is investing some US$ 700 million (EUR 655 million) in the construction of a new smelter for complex recycling materials. The company was also wrapped up in a major fraud investigation.
Additionally, UK-based 3D printing specialist AMS is exploring the feasibility of using recycled metal from end-of-life aircraft parts in additive manufacturing processes
Meanwhile, the International Copper Study Group now expects a deficit of about 27 000 tonnes for 2023, well down on its April forecast of 114 000 tonnes. It forecasts a ‘big surplus’ in 2024.
Industry veteran Ranjit Baxi has suggested carbon credits and AI are ‘key’ for the future of recovered paper. The sector faced low demand for recycled fibre products this year. Further paper news includes Pratt Industries opening its new US$ 253 million (EUR 230 million) manufacturing box factory in Texas.
Ferrous markets around the world are considered ‘bleak’ with recovery unlikely until the first quarter of 2024. According to Fastmarkets analysts, green steel will represent 30% of the European market by 2030.
Besides, there were multi-million dollar investments in R&D projects and updated legislation. A notable example of the former is the ‘microwave’ technology for solar panels pioneered by Macquarie University in Australia. Also, the US Argonne National Laboratory received government backing to help accelerate sustainable battery production in America.
A notable example of modern legislation is the revised EU Battery Directive. It sets out to achieve a collection rate of 73% by the end of 2030 for portable batteries and 51% for LMT batteries by 2031.
Additionally, the European Parliament recently agreed to amend the EU Waste Shipment Regulation in order to allow exports of hazardous waste. The revised regulation targets hazardous waste in EU-flagged ships to non-OECD countries.