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China’s CMRA pushes back deadline for nonferrous company registration info

In early August, the Beijing-based China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association Recycling Metal Branch (CMRA) notified overseas recyclers that they had until Sept. 3 to apply for what the CMRA calls a no-cost qualification certificate to ship high-grade copper and aluminum scrap to China under the country’s new system. However, later that month, CMRA Director of International Communication Joanne Liu told Recycling Today that the association has pushed back the application deadline to Dec. 31.

The CMRA’s request for information involves paper and electronic forms and appears to be similar to the type and quantity of information overseas companies have had to submit for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) licensing under China’s previous import system.

On a question-and-answer page on its website (in Chinese), CMRA says the registration information is not mandatory but adds that “qualified overseas suppliers will [have] priority for preshipment inspection.”

The China Inspection Group (CCIC) will remain involved in the scrap exporting process, as it was under the AQSIQ regimen, according to the same Q&A page on the CMRA website. However, “Companies that already have AQSIQ certificates still need to reapply” for the new certificate, CMRA says.

SA Recycling expands its footprint in the Southeast

Orange, California-based SA Recycling LLC, a joint venture between Adams Steel and Sims Metal Management, has acquired the business assets of Steel City Recycling LLC, Birmingham, Alabama, with the transaction having closed Friday, Aug. 14. Steel City also operates a second location in West Point, Mississippi.

SA has retained Steel City’s previous employees and operations were uninterrupted.

The purchase expands SA Recycling’s footprint by providing additional East Coast market share and will allow SA to further increase its Southeast shredding and metals operations and increase its scrap purchasing volumes in the area.

SA Recycling entered the Southeast scrap market when it purchased the 17 scrap metal processing facilities of Newell Recycling Southeast LLC in February 2016. The company now operates as SA Recycling LLC.

The following year in November, SA acquired the assets of Tennessee Valley Recycling LLC, headquartered in Decatur, Alabama, with seven locations in the Alabama/Tennessee region.

That move was followed by SA’s purchase of the assets of Georgia Recyclers in Savannah, Georgia, in 2018. In a separate deal in 2018, the company also assumed the operations of two Alter Trading Corp. yards in Mobile, Alabama, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. According to SA Recycling, the purchase of Steel City Recycling complements those earlier acquisitions.

Following the Steel City purchase, SA Recycling now operates more than 75 scrap metal processing facilities, including 14 automobile shredders and three port-loading operations in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, and in Savannah.

Sims Ltd. loses money in fiscal year 2020

Australia-based Sims Ltd., which also has recycling operations in North America and the United Kingdom, has reported a revenue decrease in excess of 25 percent for its fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30. The firm also has reported an underlying loss of nearly AU$58 million ($42 million) for the year.

“Severe COVID-19 lockdowns across the U.K., northeastern United States and New Zealand materially reduced intake volumes and sales prices,” says Sims Group CEO and Managing Director Alistair Field. “Management has responded to the tough market conditions with an extensive restructuring and cost reduction program that will achieve its full run rate of AU$70 million ($50.7 million) in fiscal year 2021.”

In the notes accompanying its results, Sims states, “Tough market conditions prevailed throughout fiscal year 2020. The rapid collapse in ferrous scrap prices in September 2019, combined with historically low zorba [mixed nonferrous metal] prices, severely compressed margins in the first half.” (Sims’ fiscal year first half coincides with the second half of the 2019 calendar year.)

The company says industry conditions seem to be rebounding in the first two months of fiscal 2021. “However, in early 2020 the historic worldwide response to slow the spread of COVID-19 materially reduced intake volumes and sales prices in the second half, especially in North America, the U.K. and New Zealand.”

Sims says, “Sales revenue of AU$4.9 billion ($3.55 billion) in fiscal year 2020 was 26 percent lower compared to fiscal year 2019 due to lower volumes and pricing. Nonferrous proprietary sales volumes declined 10 percent, and ferrous proprietary sales volumes declined 19 percent, contributing to a total sales volume of 8.2 million metric tons.”

Sims says AU$39 million ($28.2 million) of its annual loss were attributable to its North American Metals business unit. That compares with an AU$99.7 million ($72.2 million) profit in that unit in the previous fiscal year. In addition to COVID-19-related restrictions, Sims says its “metal margin declined due to intense competition, lower scrap inflow and lower ferrous prices and weak zorba prices” in North America.

Sims cleared AU$12 million ($8.7 million) in profits from its share of the SA Recycling joint venture, which is headquartered in Orange, California, though that figure was nearly half of what it was the previous fiscal year.

The company lost nearly AU$32 million ($23.2 million) in the U.K., during fiscal year 2020, but it retained profitability in its Australia and New Zealand operating region.

Looking ahead, Sims Ltd. says a combination of cost reductions, “structurally combining buy and sell functions” and implementing new enterprise software has it “well-positioned to take advantage of anticipated government infrastructure stimuli around the world.” The company says it sees a return to profits, including in the month of July, the first month of its new fiscal year.

In slides accompanying its results, Sims expresses optimism for greater involvement in the Chinese scrap market in the upcoming fiscal year.

The company points to the Chinese government’s plan to reclassify some higher grade nonferrous metals as a “renewable metal” rather than “waste.”

Despite delays to this new system and additional paperwork (See “China’s CMRA pushes back deadline for nonferrous company registration info” above.), Sims says it expects to export under the new category “without quotas” and estimates roughly 90 percent of its nonferrous material meets the new standards.

Ball to build aluminum can plant in Pennsylvania

Westminster, Colorado-based Ball Corp. has announced it plans to build a new aluminum beverage can manufacturing plant in Pittston, Pennsylvania, in the northeast quadrant of the state. The company says a $300 million investment is being made in what it calls a “multiline plant” that is scheduled to begin production in mid-2021.

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Canned beverages have enjoyed brisk sales in the U.S. this year, in part because more people are working, dining and drinking at home during the pandemic. Highly recyclable aluminum also is winning favor with beverage brands and companies that have made recycling-related sustainability commitments.

In the aluminum can market in 2020, the supply of finished cans and collected used beverage cans (UBCs) has been a bigger challenge than demand.

In addition to its announced new plant in Pennsylvania, Ball Corp. is building a new aluminum can plant in Glendale, Arizona.

In July, Poland-based Can Pack Industries announced plans for a new aluminum can plant in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County.

Daniel W. Fisher, Ball’s chief operating officer of global beverage packaging, says, “Our new Pittston plant is Ball’s latest investment to serve accelerating demand for our portfolio of infinitely recyclable aluminum containers used in the sparkling water, spiked seltzer, beer and carbonated beverage categories.

“Pittston will join our industry-leading network of more than 20 North American plants, including [the] new plant currently under construction in Glendale, [which] is scheduled to start up early in the first quarter of 2021,” he continues. “These investments, supported by numerous long-term customer contracts, will enable us to serve customer and consumer needs for more sustainable beverage packaging while furthering our Drive for 10 vision for long-term success.”

Ball says it chose Pittston for its new plant partly because of Pennsylvania’s focus on sustainable growth. “Infinitely recyclable and economically valuable, Ball’s aluminum cans, bottles and cups enable a truly circular economy in which materials can be and actually are used again and again.”