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  • Dear Readers!

    There are some things in life that are unavoidable simply because it is impossible to foresee them. Other things though could have been prevented if those involved had been perhaps a little more mindful and taken that all important look ahead. Would the Titanic have hit the iceberg at full speed, if Captain Smith and his crew had seen the ice before it was too late? Very unlikely. They had received ice warnings but the ocean was calm and everyone was fine on board the ship. The majority of the passengers were in good spirits – right up until the collision happened. We humans are in a pretty similar position in the 21st Century. We have received warnings about the impending effects of climate change and we have been told that supplies of natural resources are already running low – and yet we are still sailing at full speed towards a head-on collision. Despite the fact that the UN recently officially confirmed that the world’s population will have reached 10 billion people by 2050. 10 billion who will all want to live as comfortably as we Europeans already do today with our 22-tonne consumption of raw materials per capita per year. China, for example, currently only consumes 11 tonnes per person per year. We continue, for the most part, to turn a blind eye to the fact that our planet simply does not have enough raw materials for such a scenario and – even if there are sufficient supplies of some materials – it would not be particularly smart to continue to mine and consume them in such large quantities if the problems of climate change are to be overcome. 

    Maybe human nature lies at the root of the problem. Our lives run in a straight line – from when they begin, to when they end. Linear thinking is in our genes so to speak. And this is precisely how we have always developed and made our products since we used the very first axe. From the idea at the beginning, to using the product, all the way through to the final moment when the product is broken and can no longer be used. There is no afterwards. If a sustainable economy is to be created, however, it is high time that this line is transformed into a circle.

    Practicable solutions to solving our supply problems have been around for a long while now. All around the world, people have been carrying out research work to find new technologies and better systems to enable raw materials to be recovered so that they can be reused. Recycling must finally do what its name implies, i.e. create loops so that all raw materials can be returned to production cycles. Economic growth and the consumption of raw materials must become separate from one another. A few major steps must be taken before that is possible though. Firstly, an ecodesign directive needs to be introduced across Europe that not only places importance on energy efficiency (as is the case at the moment) but also on raw material efficiency and the recyclability of products. Secondly, far more money needs to be invested in researching, developing and setting up more and better sorting and recycling facilities to ensure the recovered raw materials are of the highest possible quality. And thirdly, politicians need to create incentives to encourage industrial businesses to use more recycled raw materials in their production processes. Digitalisation and e-mobility, in particular, need huge volumes of raw materials. The most environmentally friendly source – one that also allows us to remain independent – is recycled raw materials.

    Our steamship is still more or less intact but it continues to sail towards a head-on collision with Mother Nature. It is not too late to change course, though, if we reach the right conclusions and take some mindful and far-sighted steps towards more and better recycling. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic – quite a few of which can be found in this issue. 

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Recycling with absolutely no loss in quality

Our planet’s raw materials will not last forever. Handling them responsibly is, therefore, one of the greatest challenges of our times. This is particularly true for countries that have few natural resources  of their own – countries such as Germany. There is plenty of proof around showing that recycling is key to overcoming this challenge: recovering ferrous and non-ferrous metals for reuse enables industrial businesses to be supplied with recycled raw materials in a conflict-free environment. With absolutely no  loss in quality. Again and again and again.

A whole range of advantages

Primary raw materials still tend to be used in industrial  production processes even though mining has a hugely negative impact on the environment and far more energy has to be consumed to process them. Using scrap metal to produce steel considerably reduces energy consumption (compared to primary raw materials) which also means far fewer emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases which are so damaging to our climate. What’s more, systematically recovering, processing and returning metals to production cycles makes businesses less dependent on the primary raw material markets. By combining mechanical shredding processes with computer-controlled separation technology, it is possible to supply high purity recycled metals, prevent downcycling and provide the industrial sector with high quality recycled raw materials.

Recycling begins with product development

Discussions need to be held with metal processors so that metal life cycles can be closed effectively and sustainably. At the end of the day, it is only possible to offer appropriate recycling solutions and close material cycles if recyclers really understand how products are made and exactly what is needed. Why? Because recycling begins with product development. TSR Recycling is the leading ferrous and non-ferrous metal recycling business in Europe. The company, which is part of the REMONDIS Group, has over 120 years’ experience of its industry and employs approx. 2,500 employees at 140 locations around the world. Moreover, it is becoming apparent that key metallurgical know-how is disappearing in countries such as Germany whilst other states, e.g. China, are making deliberate efforts to grow their knowledge in this area. Recycling can help solve this problem as well.

TSR Recycling

    TSR Recycling’s extensive network of business locations stretches across Europe, Russia and China. All in all, it has 140 business locations in Europe

Metal recycling – what needs to be done?

  • The following measures would enable more raw materials to be recovered:

    • Growing the number of metal collection schemes
    • Increasing the amount of metal that is recovered & returned to production cycles
    • Carrying out ongoing development work to improve metal recycling solutions & processes
    • Promoting an ongoing exchange of information between metal processors and recyclers
    • Considering how a product can be recycled during the actual product development stage
    • Promoting metal recycling around the world, growing global recycling rates
    • Providing technical support to set up recycling structures
    • Making it clear just how important metal recycling is for guaranteeing supplies

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