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‘In a crisis, friends help each other’

When Professor Xu, ceo of Chinese electronics recycler GEM, heard about a shortage of coronavirus protection materials in Germany he donated more than 30 000 mouth masks through the firm’s technology provider URT Recycling Technology.

The pandemic has affected many in the global recycling scene, including URT Recycling Technology in Karstadt, central Germany. ‘Shipment of equipment is still possible but the problem is assembling it at the destination,’ says company sales engineer Florian Hessler. ‘There would be nothing our engineers would like more than to fly out and fix the job. However, due to worldwide travel bans, they simply cannot get on that plane, forcing us to postpone assembly of plants and lines. It is so frustrating, as you can imagine.’

According to Hessler, completion of six projects has been delayed: one in China, one in France, and four in Poland. No less than 80% of URT’s business is export-related.

A helping hand

As in every crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is also creating good news stories, as Hessler and his colleagues have learned. ‘There is great cohesion between our customers and us, especially now,’ he says. ‘Customers have become friends and, in a crisis, friends help each other.

The best proof of this is URT’s customer GEM, a major e-scrap recycler in China. URT ceo and Florian’s father Peter Hessler explains: ‘Immediately after the first outbreak in Wuhan, we offered GEM our help. In return, when the coronavirus reached Europe and ceo Prof Xu heard about a protection equipment shortage in Germany, he did not hesitate to have URT donate more than 30 000 protective masks, gloves and protection suits. This equipment was delivered to medical facilities in the area where the URT factory is located. We organised distribution over the area.’

More recycling, more technology 

Investment in new recycling technology will decrease because of the crisis, Peter Hessler believes, but it won’t be dramatic and certainly not long-term. ‘There’ll be more electronics to recycle and more countries recycling. In addition, innovation is needed to upgrade existing plants to comply with the latest technological standards. Obviously, all these trends sooner or later will boost our business.’

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