Skip to main content

‘You have to keep building your network’

Dutch player RKR Recycling, which processes 20 000 catalytic converters per week, laments that business has many ups and downs due to volatile metals prices. ‘Ours is a very dynamic market and these are exciting times,’ company owner Hendrik Haverhoek told the recent Recycling Technik tradeshow in Dortmund. ‘Though not always easy, it’s nice to have a challenge.

In the sidelines of the event, Haverhoek tells Recycling International: ‘The autocat recycling segment is always moving both in terms of precious metals composition and their demand. Lately, rhodium content has been going down drastically and this is reflected in the prices. They were at EUR 750 a few months ago and have dropped to EUR 250. We’ll have to see if we’ve reached the bottom.’

The trajectory of prices has been very unpredictable throughout 2022, he says, adding with a laugh: ‘In the metals market, don’t count on it being easy’. As a result of intense competition and market uncertainty, several German car dismantlers have been forced to closed doors in recent months. ‘We’re talking dozens, not just the odd one here or there.’

It’s a trend that hasn’t yet reached RKR’s domestic market. ‘Sure, a few Dutch operators have stepped out of the game but nothing at the rate we’re seeing here.’

One challenge has been ensuring a steady stream of catalytic converters. RKR can handle more than 300 autocats per hour – they can be recycled whole. ‘The thing is, recyclers tend to process in bursts of 30-50 at a time,’ Haverhoek explains. ‘Stockpiles aren’t always that big.’

Consolidation has become a way to survive as well as taking on new waste streams. ‘Today’s market sentiments and car upgrades offer a view into the future. We can’t take scrap volumes and scrap prices for granted. Rather, we have to be more creative, find new ways to operate, expand our network. That’s why we are here. Growth and diversification don’t happen overnight. Exposure is key. You have to keep building your network.’

Currently, almost 70% of RKR’s clients are based in the Netherlands, with others in Germany and Belgium. ‘We’re lucky to have a strong customer network,’ Haverhoek says. ‘We can analyse their samples in our in-house laboratory starting at 30kg. This allows us to pinpoint the exact value that very same day. Not exactly a luxury when prices may fluctuate so rapidly.’

For RKR, which is headquartered in Zwolle, a long-standing partnership with precious metals pioneer Umicore is an advantage. ‘We’ve been working together for almost ten years. We exchange know-how and discuss new opportunities. They are eagerly pursuing battery recycling. Maybe we will join forces and see if we, too, can tackle electric vehicle batteries.’

Don't hesitate to contact us to share your input and ideas. Subscribe to the magazine or (free) newsletter.

You might find this interesting too

Panizzolo’s tech means high efficiency and flexibility
‘Orders are back on track!’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe now and get a full year for just €169 (normal rate is €225) Subscribe