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Purified Metal Company recycling plant opened its doors yesterday in Delfszijl, the Netherlands. This is the first plant where contaminated steel can be processed in a sustainable way. Given that this option is now on offer, the Dutch government is to introduce a landfill ban on asbestos and contaminated steel from 2021 onward.

As reported by the Dutch newspaper NRC, 150 trucks with scrap metal are sent from the Netherlands to foreign countries each and every day. There, it is melted down under conditions that cause a lot of pollution. The Groningen-based recycling plant is a solution to this dilemma.

Contaminated steel

Contaminated steel is present in a wide variety of places. Steel is contaminated with e.g. asbestos and chromium-6. This contaminated steel can be found in buildings and industrial facilities and so on. The new recycling plant in Delfszijl is capable of cleaning and processing this contaminated steel. And in a way that is safe for both people and the environment.

The steel is processed into purified metal blocks that can be used as a raw material in the steel industry. The plant’s operation saves 1 metric ton of CO2 per ton of steel that is produced compared to steel fabricated from iron ore. Each year, the company claims to save as much CO2 as that emitted by 45,000 passenger cars annually.

Dumping ban

At the opening of the factory, King Willem-Alexander and Secretary of State Stientje van Veldhoven (the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) were present. Van Veldhoven spoke about this solution for this type of hazardous waste at the inauguration.

“So far, landfills have been the only safe destination for steel that is contaminated with asbestos. With the arrival of the Purified Metal Company, this hazardous waste can now be recycled in a safe and environmentally friendly way. We do not want to deal with this indiscriminately in our own country. We are now going to ban that practice given that landfill is no longer the sole feasible final destination for contaminated steel.”
The landfill ban will come into force on January 1, 2021.

The future

A total of €70 million has been invested in the construction of the plant. Purified Metal Company anticipates that the company will be profitable as early as mid-2021. The aim of the company is to build more of the same types of plants all over the world.

Jan Henk Wijma, CEO of Purified Metal Company: “We are now working hard to turn our sustainable processing of contaminated steel into an operational and commercial success. The entire team, just like myself, is looking with a tremendous amount of confidence towards the future.”