Obviously, only one can kick off Recycling International’s Top 100. When it comes inspiring others – within and beyond the sector – this entrepreneur has certainly won his spurs.
#1 Jean-Philippe Fusier, owner and ceo of MTB Recycling (France)
Fusier is mostly known as a recycling machinery producer operating under the same MTB brand name. But, as with most equipment suppliers, MTB began as a scrap recycler and today manufacture and scrap recycling still go hand in hand. Based in Trept, west of Lyon, Fusier and his dedicated team process some 50 000 tonnes of non-ferrous per year, mainly copper and aluminium cable.
We see Fusier as a visionary and innovative recycler, rather than motivated by making ever more money. What drives him is helping to create a healthy environment for future generations and to secure the future of his company. In recent economic rough years and challenging scrap market conditions, Fusier had the guts to invest EUR 17 million in a new facility to ramp up production and shredding capacity.
The eco-design plant delivers 80% of the required electrical supply thanks to solar panels and a series of batteries. MTB also has a fleet of electric vehicles along with a sports hall, canteen and greenhouses for employees to enjoy some gardening during their lunch hour.
Fusier is patron of the SeaCleaners association, founded in 2016 by French ecological adventurer Yves Bourgnon to eliminate ocean plastic pollution. MTB is a technical partner of the foundation’s Manta project. The sailing ship Manta can be best described as a floating plastics recycling facility and research lab. The vessel is due to be deployed in the coastal waters of the Mediterranean in 2022-23.
#2 Johanna Leshabane, founder of Bophelo Recycling (South Africa)
The South African entrepreneur describes Bophelo Recycling as a ‘waste buy-back centre’ that collects recyclable PET plastic from informal settlements, households and schools in the Ermelo region. Leshabane built her business from the ground up and now has 11 full-time staff and 20 part-time waste pickers. The company has collected over 45 tonnes of plastic scrap since it launched in 2017 and the founder cites a 79% increase in collection volumes since it opened its doors. She says the power of a grassroots enterprise like hers, employing local people and teaching them practical skills, is vital in developing nations across Africa. ‘I hope to expand operations to other towns and rural settlements in the coming months. I want to teach more people how they can start their own recycling business.’
#3 Craig Thompson, ceo of Areera Intelligent Screen Recycling (UK)
At an early stage, this e-scrap plastics recycling expert saw that China’s scrap import restriction would have a huge impact on recycling businesses across Europe and North America. ‘We need to press the reset button as end markets for e-scrap plastics are changing forever,’ he warned in an interview with RI in 2018.
Thompson has been active in electronics recycling since 1999. He launched the UK’s first franchised e-scrap collection system in 2005 and opened one of the country’s largest electronics recycling facilities. Over the past ten years, Thompson has worked with the majority of e-scrap recyclers in Europe, Canada and the USA on outlets for their e-scrap plastics.
Before the pandemic, Thompson was a global citizen, constantly on the move and his business card had mobile numbers for Hong Kong, UK, Netherlands, Brazil, Latvia and North America. For his latest project he settled down in the English region he grew up, Yorkshire, where he has set up and leads Areera, claimed to be the UK’s most advanced automated robotic recycling facility for flat panel displays, notebooks and x-ray separation of electronics and e-scrap plastics.
#4 Surendra Borad Patawari, founder and ceo of Gemini Corporation (Belgium/India)
‘Recycling is my passion, recycling is my life,’ said Borad Patawari in January 2020 at the International Electronics Recycling Congress after having received the congress’ honorary award in recognition of his lifetime’s work in the sourcing, processing and reuse of raw materials.
Patawari founded Gemini in 1989 and the company has grown into an international sourcing and supply organisation with operations spanning more than 40 countries. The product portfolio at Gemini includes core divisions of plastics, steel, rubber and paper.
Besides being a successful businessman, Patawari is also known for his commitment to creating a social impact through multiple long-term initiatives in India. He has adopted 11 Indian villages to support their medical needs; built and operates two schools for 400 students; and supports the planting and maintenance of more than 100 000 trees. Patawari is also a respected contributor to the market updates in this magazine.
#5 Purified Metal Company (The Netherlands)
Launched in 2019 as the world’s first site for safely recycling contaminated steel, the EUR 70 million PMC facility in the north of the Netherlands processes steel scrap containing asbestos and chromium-6 as well as organic contamination from large demolition objects such as chemical installations, drilling platforms and trains. The end product is a clean, premium raw material for steel mills, branded Purified Metal Blocks.
A former Soviet submarine that was dismantled and scrapped at the Janssen Recycling yard in the Port of Rotterdam had the honour of being the first major demolition project in which contaminated scrap was processed at PMC. The company plans to set up similar facilities at other locations around the world.
#6 Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet (USA)
Minter comes from a Minnesota scrapyard family and has made it his life’s work to document the ins and outs of the global recycling industry. Having lived in Singapore for years, he is very familiar with developments in the Asian market. He has also covered the African scrap market extensively – see the cover story in Recycling International from October 2015 – telling the story of pioneers in Ghana. Minter writes articles and columns for Bloomberg and travelled the world for his best-seller ‘Junkyard Planet’. The book was followed by another popular title ‘Second Hand’. A third book is currently in the works.
#7 TES (USA)
TES uses proprietary in-house technology to recover nickel, lithium and cobalt from car batteries. The company currently has 45 recycling plants in more than 20 countries and is active in China. In March, it opened a new battery recycling facility in Singapore which relies on a hydro-metallurgical process. The site can handle 14 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries, the equivalent of 280 000 smart phones, every day. TES manages a 90% recovery rate and extracts battery materials with 99% purity.
#8 Doug Kramer, owner of Kramer Metals/Spectrum Alloys (USA)
As with so many fellow recyclers, Kramer Metals of Vernon, Los Angeles was challenged by Covid-19. Recycling International talked with Kramer in the first weeks of the pandemic. ‘The world has shut down,’ the former ISRI chair lamented. ‘There’s no open or free movement of scrap and that is scary.’ At the same time, he was optimistic about the future. ‘Although the uncertainty of how long this will take hurts, I believe we will be OK and our business will survive this crisis.’
Kramer Metals has proved to be resilient. The company, as with the entire scrap recycling industry across the US and worldwide, was considered part of an essential sector.
#9 Dhawal Shah, managing director of Metco Marketing (India)
Besides being a scrap trader running a profitable business, Shah is a true ambassador for his country and its recycling sector. During the latest BIR convention, Shah expressed deep sorrow at the Covid pandemic’s devastating recent impact on India: ‘It’s beyond imagination; we paid a heavy toll,’ he said.
Talking with this commerce graduate from Mumbai, helps to better understand India. ‘We are not there yet, we have to undo decades of inefficiency and corruption. But the good days will come. This is all work in progress,’ he told RI in 2018. The good news is, India has already the world’s sixth-largest economy with 65% of its population under the age of 35. Every day, 40 km of new road is being added and the country already has more than a billion telephone connections.
Shah is vice-president of the Metal Recycling Association of India and serves on the metals committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In June 2021 Shah was appointed the new divisional president for non-ferrous at BIR.
#10 Murat Bayram, director non-ferrous at EMR (Germany/UK)
‘You need to be an all-rounder to survive in scrap metal trading,’ says Bayram. Certainly, this scrap trader from Hamburg fits the bill. One can hardly imagine a congress or online event without him in the line-up. Bayram frequently climbs on to conference stages to share his views on the industry’s ups-and-downs. He always advocates the interest of the recycling sector in general rather than promoting the company he represents.
It’s Bayram’s style of presentation people enjoy: open, enthusiastic and with humour. His comment are always illustrated with personal, close-to-home experiences. Example: in a recent online BIR panel discussing electronics design for recycling and repair, Bayram explained how his sons’ car toy remote control failed but could not be fixed due to the device’s complex contents. The recycling industry could use more storytellers such as Murat Bayram!
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