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Hydro Starts Up New Aluminum Recycling Line

Hydro - Neuss, Germany

Hydro commissioned a EUR 45 million aluminum recycling facility at its Neuss plant in Germany. The facility aims to recycle up to 50,000 tonnes of used beverage cans (UBCs) per year. With the new UBC line, Hydro further optimizes its sourcing of metal for subsequent fabrication. The UBC recycling line in Neuss has created 40 new jobs at Hydro Neuss, now with a workforce of around 700.

“Hydro’s facility in Neuss is the first to adopt a patented, advanced sorting technology for used beverage cans, able to process collected aluminium material with up to 20% impurities — making the new recycling line the best place to be for any used beverage can,” said Svein Richard Brandtzæg, Hydro president and CEO. The newly designed technology at the UBC plant in Neuss underlines Hydro’s position as an innovative leader in the recycling sector. The sensor technology for sorting and separating the different types of used metal is based on Hydro’s own patented technology, and was tailored for UBC recycling in Hydro’s Research and Development center in Bonn. It represents cutting-edge technology in the recycling industry.

Also designed to be environmentally friendly, UBC recycling in Neuss will save 350,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, compared to use of primary aluminium. Energy needed to produce primary aluminium for one can is enough to recycle aluminium for 20 cans. This helps Hydro work toward its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2020.

Hydro's new UBC recycling line is designed to be environmentally friendly.
Hydro’s new UBC recycling line is designed to be environmentally friendly.

The facility is located in the heart of a growing can market, as Europeans now are using more than 30 billion cans a year — equal to 450,000 tonnes of UBCs to recycle. Hydro turns this urban-mined resource into material for new can tabs, ends, and bodies, closing the recycling loop. Countries collect cans in various systems, where collected the bulk often contains impurities and other materials than aluminium.

“With the new recycling line, we offer our international customers a closed recycling loop, literally turning old cans into new cans,” said Kjetil Ebbesberg, executive vice president of Hydro, at the opening ceremony. “This underlines our commitment to international can makers as a close, responsible partner, and a leader in technology.”

Since 2002, Hydro has invested more than EUR 1 billion in Germany. Adding to the UBC line, an upcoming automotive line in the Grevenbroich plant, an investment of EUR 130 million, will boost capacity for car body sheet by additional 150,000 tonnes, later in 2016. Furthermore, the hot mill at the Alunorf joint venture in Neuss, the world’s largest plant for rolling and remelting of aluminium, has been modernized and expanded for EUR 80 million.

Additional investments outside of Germany include the EUR 15 million revamp of Hydro’s aluminium remelting plant in Clervaux, Luxembourg, where they will start recycling used aluminium products, turning them into new extrusion ingot for building and construction.

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