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Circular solution for metals in ash slag

- Ragn-Sells giving new life to valuable metals

Engagements 11 Apr 2018

The ash slag that arrives at Ragn-Sells’ plants contains valuable metals. Ragn-Sells’ circular solutions enable the valuable metals to be separated from the ash, processed in various ways, and then sold on to be reused, usually in other countries in Europe.

”Metals are the most valuable materials that we sell and the ones that we sell most of per kilo,” says Jörgen Örnestav, Sales Manager at Recyclables.

Every year Ragn-Sells’ Häradsudden, Heljestorp and Högbytorp waste treatment plants receive about 160,000 tonnes of ash from refuse incineration. About six per cent of the ash slag consists of metals/iron – a valuable material which Ragn-Sells sorts out and utilises. First the ash is dried for two to six months in the treatment process before the metal is separated out by machine. The sorted material still contains about 40 per cent ash residues, but the rest is metals such as iron, coins, copper, aluminum, brass and stainless steel.

Once the metals have been sorted and processed, they are reintroduced into the circular flow again through Recyclables, which is part of the Ragnsells group and which deals with sales of the waste in the form of different materials which Ragn-Sells collects from society.

”My task is to sell the metal that is recovered in our plants at as good a price as possible. We are also careful here to only sell to genuine companies which meet Ragn-Sells’ code of conduct,” says Jörgen, Sales Manager for metal at Recyclables.

The ash slag containing metals is principally sold to customers in Europe, which in turn process the material and extract purer metals. 

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”We sometimes sell metals for analysis, i.e. before we know exactly what sort of metals it involves, and which grade and size is obtained after sorting and washing. For example, we might have a customer which can retrieve coins from the ash and which cleans and sorts the currencies. In these instances, we have an agreement with the customer that we still own the currencies, which are subsequently sold on to different central banks around the world.

Once the metals have been sorted and are as clean as possible, they are sold on and reused. Iron, for example, is sold to Swedish steelworks. Copper goes to smelteries in Belgium where it becomes copper ingots. Aluminium goes to smelteries in Germany and becomes new car parts. Any more examples.

”Metals are the most valuable materials that we sell and the ones that we sell most of per kilo. My task is also to continually find new buyers with new technologies for the processing. The technology is advancing and metals will continue to be important materials in the future too as they are so important for the global economy,” Jörgen says. 

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Fact box

  • About 5-6% of the ash from incineration consists of different metals that are extracted
  • Examples of metals that are recovered are Iron, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, Copper and Zinc

Last year Ragn-Sells recovered about 4 tonnes of coins from 30,000 tonnes of ash.

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