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Muller-Guttenbrunn Group in Austria has a history of scrap metal recycling and has now set the standard for recycling electronics. Europe is taking electronics (and universal waste as a whole) recycling very seriously. And this is something the U.S. is just starting to do.
Through its various European facilities, the company recycles roughly 850,000 metric tons of materials per year, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals and plastic. They handle everything from simple e-waste to end-of-life vehicles and appliances. In 2004, the company formed a joint venture which processes large quantities of e-scrap plastics from many electronics recyclers throughout Europe, thus producing several types of plastic resins.
Innovative updates to various plants within Muller-Guttenbrunn Group have been the emphasis of numerous presentations and tours and are nothing short of world-class. One of their strategic targets over the years has been to improve the depth of the materials it is recovering. Digging as deep as possible to get recovery of as much material as possible, believing that is “basically the head and heart of recycling”.
The company even created and patented a tumbling machine for e-waste. Electronics placed in it open up to facilitate the release of items such as batteries, capacitors, toner cartridges and printed circuit boards, without damaging them. Pollutants are then easily removed by hand. The resultant raw material is then shredded.
This innovative company continues to improve their processes by thinking ahead and outside the box, making them a world leader in the recycling industry.
The EPA’s mandate to responsibly manage e-waste (and others) could make many recyclers in the U.S. start approaching recycling in the same aggressive way as our European counterparts.
It’s important that you start now developing a relationship with a recycler who knows what the standards set forth by the EPA are and how to implement the correct strategies to take care of and manage your universal waste products. Changes are coming and it’s important that you start preparing now for those changes rather than trying to play catch up later.