Recycling Report: Scrap Dealers Feel the Squeeze
T he struggles of companies in the current economy have been well-documented across the plastics value chain, but little attention is often paid to compounders that buy and resell scrap plastic.
The struggles of companies in the current economy have been well-documented across the plastics value chain, but little attention is often paid to compounders that buy and resell scrap plastic.
Recyclers have also been hit hard by some of the market forces affecting businesses in the processing sector. For instance, downturns in key markets have affected business volumes in the recycling industry.
“The main problem we’re finding is the automotive industry, and some of the housing-related industry,” noted Gobi Saha, president of Brampton, Ont.-based Kal-Trading Inc. “They are not buying as much as they used to, and they’re not selling as much of their scrap as they used to.” But the recent sharp decline in commodity prices — a shift that has at least brought some temporary relief to processor profit margins — has further exacerbated the recycling industry’s problems.
The recent devaluation in commodity prices had a sharp impact across the recycling value chain. Toronto’s general manager of solid waste, for instance, has announced that the department was working on contingency plans in light of the sudden drop in demand for products made from recycled materials and the drop in oil prices.
In British Columbia, the recycling industry at large is voicing concerns about reduced demand, particularly in countries like China.
“The issue here is that we export most of our recycled materials, and they get shipped to India and China,” explained Mairi Welman of the Recycling Council of B. C. “And the prices have just really come down over the last few months. The high-grade plastics are still moving, but they are stockpiling a lot of the low-grade stuff.”
Scrap dealers are voicing many of the same concerns. Saha notes that Kal-Trading isn’t as badly affected because it serves diversified markets, but it will still feel the pinch.
“When the cycle goes up there is an incentive to buy recycled…there are people who are buying our material, but there e other people who will go with the virgin material.”
“China is the biggest sufferer,” he continued. “It’s not going to take our thunder because it’s not our biggest market, but it is going to make us struggle a little bit.”‘
WORKING THROUGH IT
Many plastics recycling firms are responding to the reduced demand and compressed profit margins by working harder on the sales front.
“We are making more calls,” said Cecil Green of Woodstock, Ont.-based Greenline Resins Inc. “The harder you work, the more time you spend, the better the results.”
Kal-Trading’s Saha also says that the company has increased its sales efforts, noting that there isn’t much fat left to pick off in terms of operational effectiveness.
Some companies on the post-consumer side, however, are looking at ways to improve feedstocks in order to reduce operational costs. Louis Metivier, president of Que.-based Recyc RPM Inc., one of Canada’s biggest plastic recyclers, notes that one of the big problems for the company is the quality of post-consumer plastic bales. He says that materials from municipal recycling facilities are often not sorted well.
“We have at least a 15 to 25 per cent reject rate in it,” said Metivier. This in turn adds to the company’s operational and maintenance costs. In tougher times, good quality feedstocks are very important.
“We have to be very efficient in the plant with the machinery right now,” he said.
The Environment and Plastics Industry Council’s Cathy Cirko notes that although quality issues are an important consideration, recyclers should also look at several other areas. Namely, recyclers should work towards greater market diversification, increased vertical integration with end users, and long-term contracts.
“My feeling is, when you’ve got a really sharp drop in virgin, you’ve got to look at contracts,” noted Cirko. “It’s very much in the interest of plastic recyclers to forge ahead with longer-term contracts.”
CPL According to Maguire, the Shuttle Granulator automatically processes bulky purgings while costing no more than 20 per cent as much as standard systems. The granulator’s two-stage system planes purgings into small chips, and then granulates the chips into uniform regrind that is ready for reprocessing.
Spotlight — Size Reduction Equipment
SPOTLIGHT – SIZE REDUCTION EQUIPMENT GRANULATOR STREAMLINES REPROCESSING OF PURGINGS
In the “planing” stage, the purging is shuttled back and forth over a table surface that is split into two levels like a carpenter’s plane. A series of staggered rotor knives that turn at 1750 RPM at the point of disjunction reduce the purging to chips. They are then propelled at a high speed into the hopper of a second-stage granulator beneath the table.
Maguire has made several enhancements, including a shock-absorbing drive mechanism to cushion the impact of particularly hard material; a lower cutting chamber to provide easier operator access; and more effective purging consumption.
Maguire Canada (Vaughan Ont.);
LARGE HEAVY-DUTY SHEET GRANULATORS
Extruders of sheet products such as acrylic, PS, PP and PVC have the need for heavy duty rugged granulators, like the Heavy Duty Granulator model 60/140 CL, 150 HP.
Polymer Systems has installed many of these systems in North America. The rugged granulator features the patented cross-scissor cutting action, and rotor knives are pre-adjusted outside the machine for fast and easy replacement. The cutting chamber and screen cradle are electro hydraulically opened and closed for easy maintenance access.
The granulators are most often conveyor fed for the thick sheets, or fed by feed rolls for the continuous lengths of flexible or thinner materials. Regrind is blower/cyclone evacuated, and Hosokawa manufactures customized de-dusting systems for the removal of dust, fines and angel hair for trouble free processing.
Hosokawa Polymer Systems Kensington, Conn.); www.polysys.com;860-828-0541
Plastic Machinery Inc. (Newmarket, Ont.); 905-895-5054
SCREENLESS GRANULATOR WITH REDUCED FOOTPRINT
The new SJ2 Compact screenless granulator has a reduced footprint and a large cutting chamber for the granulation of bigger sprues and parts made of hard, filled plastics. Its reduced footprint of only 0.4 m2 (620 in2) makes the unit ideal for beside-the- press operation, while the cutting chamber size of 240 mm x 346 mm offers a throughput of 20 kg/h.
The screenless granulator has two cutting rotors and an optional third shaft for improved feeding of the cutting chamber. The hardened, reversible knives provide double the life and reduced maintenance costs. The low 32 rpm rotor speed offers quiet operation with minimal fines.
The granulator can also be equipped with the optional Automatic Reversing System (ARS), which provides optimal processing for continuous operation and avoids jamming-related shutdowns.
Wittmann Canada Inc.
(Richmond Hill, Ont.);
SPOTLIGHT – SIZE REDUCTION EQUIPMENT BIGGEST OPEN-HEARTED GRANULATORS
Rapid has released the new 600-Series, the largest of Rapid’s open-hearted range of easy access granulators. They allow cleaning and maintenance time to be reduced by up to 50 per cent without compromising safety or regrind quality.
The 600-Series uses the same patented technology, with a concept that is modular and can be tailored to any application within the processing or recycling industry.
During a production change, the machine’s ergonomic (“open hearted”) design allows the operator to gain access to the rotor and cutter in just three steps, without the aid of any tools.
d or beside-the-press, the 600-Series is designed for high-volume granulation of injection molded, blow molded or extruded parts and waste, and can handle throughput of up to 2,500 kg/h. The series, which has a rotor diameter of 500mm, is available in 900, 1200 and even 1500mm widths. In addition, the machine can be equipped with Rapid’s Super Tangential Cutter House to allow the granulation of parts bigger than the rotor diameter.
Rapid Granulator Inc. (Rockford, Ill.);
Dier International Plastics Inc.
(Richmond Hill, Ont.);
HORIZONTAL GRANULATORS FROM VECOPLAN
The VH-Series contains 14 different models, ranging from 40 HP to 200 HP, with deed widths from 18″ to 50″. They come with a control panel and 16′ L vibration conveyor for horizontal feeding of lineal scrap such as profile extrusions, small diameter pipe and PVC siding.
Multiple feed rollers grip the material coming from the conveyor and advance the material into the cutting rotor. Feed rate is determined by the amperage load that the processing action places on the cutting rotor, which in turn sends a signal to both the conveyor and feed rollers to adjust the feed rate. Particle size is determined by a sizing screen.
The V-Series offers a choice of cutting rotors. Fourteen models are available with a precision granulator rotor in 2-4-knife configurations with a moderately open design. The rotor turns at a mid-speed RPM and utilizes sharp knives similar to conventional granulator blades. A proprietary clamping system secures the knives in place and affords several sharpening intervals.
Vecoplan, LLC (High Point, N. C.);
Weima has introduced the new “E-Rotor” WLK shredder, with a new rotor specifically for the recycling of film and fibrous materials. The design has also eliminated wrapping issues with thin gauge films and fibers, which sometimes occur with other rotor designs.
One of the benefits of the new design is that it generates a relatively high bulk density when processing film, helping maximize the efficiency of the repelletizing process. Also, with larger hoppers associated with shredders, processors have the ability to load materials with easy.
With additional features such as a rotor cooling package, the E-Rotor also has the ability to handle low melt materials. The machine configuration can be adapted with wear plates for abrasive materials and carbide tipped knives for extended life.
Weima America Inc. (Fort Mill, S. C.);
THE E-ROTOR SHREDDER
HAND-FED GRANULATOR SAVES SPACE
The WO-1430 back feed granulator is ideal for in-plant recycling for long, light parts. The new model has a feed throat opening 72 inches off the floor, enabling the hand feeding of parts up to eight feet long without the use of a platform or conveyor. This saves valuable floor space.
An innovative fly-back control within the hopper prevents scrap from flying back, and the 40HP motor-powered unit is completely soundproofed.
Rotogran also offers a new option for wear resistance on granulators, with systems where the wear in the granulator chamber are fitted with removable inserts. Inserts can be replaced without disassembling the entire chamber, and the operation can be performed in less time than a typical blade change. Inserts are located at both sides of the rotor and at the wear points of the backplate leading into the bottom stationary blade area, an can be provided with our without a protective tungsten carbide coating.
Rotogran has also experienced great success with its constant torque drive variable speed drive granulators, which allows customers to produce quality regrind while reducing power consumption and noise levels when compared to conventional fixed spered granulators.
Rotogran International Inc.