[Article from ScrapBook No5 2014]
Grupa RECYKL S.A. live and breath end-of-life tires – they collect, recover and recycle them. It all begun in 2004 when they placed the order for first tire recycling plant from Eldan Recycling in order to produce TDF chips. Today, they are the largest tire recycler in Poland currently with three locations for recycling plants (Śrem, Krosno Odrzańskie and Chełm), continuously growing and planning ahead together with Eldan.
The largest polish tire recycler
The story of what today is the largest tire recycler in Poland started as a reflection after seeing a television program on tire recycling in Poland. There was a reportage about two Eldan Mobile Super Choppers and one complete tire recycling plant (E4000T) delivered to ABC Recykling in Krosno Odrzańskie. “At that time, we were active within transportation of end-of-life tires. We immediately saw the business potential and thought this might be interesting! We transport these tires– what if it was possible to turn them into TDF chips for incineration?” says Maciej Jasiewicz President of RECYKL.
The idea of starting a TDF chip production plant in 2004, has since developed and expanded into the largest tire recycler in Poland; Grupa RECYKL S.A.. The group takes care of all the steps of the end-of-life tire recycling process in order to let their customers focus on their main business.
“One can say that we make end-of-life tires disappear. We collect them through more than 200 containers sectioned mostly in south and west of Poland. We recover them. And we recycle them. Our product offer ranges from TDF, through rubber granulate to clean steel. In addition, we take care of all necessary certifications involved in getting rid of tires,” says Jasiewicz. “We process all kinds of tires from car to OTR tires, all deriving from Poland.”
It all started with a positive review
10 years has passed since RECYKL signed the contract to purchase their first Eldan equipment. At that time they wanted to take advantage of predicted large business opportunity within production of TDF chips for incineration in a local heating plant. The company was in final negotiations with a German manufacturer of recycling equipment when they came in contact with Polish Eldan representative, Tomasz Kajzer at Rub-Met. Kajzer presented the modular Eldan tire recycling solution to RECYKL, and invited them to visit reference plants in Europe.
“We were about to sign the contract with the other equipment manufacturer, when we met Tomasz. The concept he presented got us intrigued to find out more. We had the opportunity to visit a few reference plants across Europe, and to actually talk to the people running it. Being able to ask questions to experienced Eldan personnel, and also having the opportunity to meet people within the recycling industry working with the equipment daily was invaluable,” says Jasiewicz. “As rookies entering the tire recycling industry, we appreciated that Tomasz took the time to understand our special conditions, and that Eldan tailored a solution, which was suitable for us. We felt that we were in proper hands with Eldan. One cannot turn down a tailored solution, supported by references from the leading processors across Europe.“
In 2004 and 2005 they acquired an Eldan Super Chopper (SC1412T), an Eldan Tumble Back Feeder and an Eldan Pre-Granulation Plant, including a Heavy Pre-Granulator (HPG165T). This equipment processed car and truck tires at approx. 3 ton/production hour, producing TDF chips.
“I remember meeting RECYKL for the first time in 2004. I had recently become Sales Director at Eldan, and this was actually my first signed sales contract,” says Dr. Toni Reftman, Managing Director at Eldan Recycling. “The cooperation between our agent in the region, Tomasz Kajzer, the experienced team at Eldan and a potential customer with great curiosity for this new industry made this long-term relationship possible.”
Successful TDF production
The TDF chip production was very successful and in 2006 RECYKL added an Eldan tire Recycling Plant (type B-TR200) to their production. The plant includes e.g. an Eldan Tumble Back Feeder, a tire Rasper (TR200) and an Overband Magnet (DM1850). With this plant they would be able to process more tire shreds. Producing 25 mm TDF chips (95-98% free of liberated steel), they would be able to process tire shreds at 3.5 ton/production hour. The input tire shreds should be 150-300 mm.
“RECYKL and Eldan have a very good relationship, which is built on mutual cooperation and trust in the equipment. The modular design of the tire recycling systems fit RECYKL perfectly. When the market demands that they expand, they basically just add the new equipment” says Kajzer. “One can almost say that RECYKL grown based on Eldan’s further equipment.”
Listening to the customer
In 2008 RECYKL added to the plant by acquiring an Eldan tire Recycling Plant (B-MPR200T special) consisting of e.g. a Tumble Back Feeder, a Multi Purpose Rasper (MPR200 spec) and an Overband Magnet DM1850.
“One of the reasons why we chose Eldan was that they actually listened, and still listen, to which direction we want to go next, and conditions which we have for it. A few years ago everyone in the industry considered the steel deriving from tire recycling an unwanted product. Today it is a highly valuable product, which if cleaned with the Eldan equipment is very attractive for steel smelters across Europe,” says Jasiewicz. “We are proud to say that we have been a part of important product development at Eldan. After a visit to one of the Eldan reference plants in 2008, I had a discussion with Tomasz, which led to us requesting that our recently ordered Multi Purpose Rasper should have a hard welded rotor. That is standard on that machine today. Eldan listens to its customers, since we are the ones who work with the equipment everyday.”
Downtime is expensive
Minimizing downtime is of utter importance to RECYKL. Along with equipment orders they are thorough with also ordering necessary spare and wear parts (like knives and screens) and a service contract.
“We know that we only earn money when the equipment is in production. Therefore it is vital for us to keep downtime at a minimum by serving the equipment according to schedule and by always using original spare and wear parts. Ordering new equipment, we always sign a service contract. It is not because we think it will break down, but in order to have the continuous support with the equipment, continuously optimizing it,” says Jasiewicz. “We have a very strong relationship with one of the service technicians, Jens Mikkelsen, who visit us 4 times a year, following the condition of the plant, making improvements when possible”.
Ambitious plans for expanding
In 2009 the recycling plant was expanded by adding an Eldan Super Chopper (SC2118T), an Eldan tire Recycling Plant (B-MPR200T special) and an Eldan Granulation Plant for TDF chips. The Eldan Super Chopper and tire Recycling Plant would increase the capacity of the complete line. The Eldan Granulation Plant for TDF chips will reduce the up to 30 mm TDF chips (from the MPR200T) into 1-3 mm granules at approx. 1.5 ton/production hour. The Granulation Plant consists of e.g. Feeding silo (V4), a Fine Granulator (FG1504), a Pneumatic Material Transport (PMT), a Classifier (PC10T) and an Overband Magnet (DM1450).
“Making the first investment, the price of the Eldan plant seemed high, but after being in production and taking care of the equipment in the right way, the price is low compared to what you get. If dividing the initial investment per processed ton, the cost is very low. The equipment at ABC Recykling [company acquired by RECYKL in December 2013] is still running smoothly even though it was acquired and set into production in 2001. It is hard to find a better reference and proof of quality!” says Jasiewicz.
In 2010, Roman Stachowiak, majority owner of RECYKL and presently President of Grupa Recykl S.A. and Jasiewicz decided that it was time to take the company to the next level. RECYKL was bought out from former owner Polcopper Sp. z o.o., and plans for expansion and upgrade were set to play. The company, including the recycling facility, was moved from Przysieka Polska to Śrem. This allowed them the expansion of the company, at the same time providing better economic conditions for the operation since the new location is in a special industry zone. Śrem is a strategically great location, and RECYKL is located in an industrial zone with economic benefits. The city is located on the River Warta, 42 km south of Poznań, with a town population of about 30.000. The area is a fast expanding economy and many companies with private and foreign capital has seat here.
One of the objectives with move and expansion was to increase the granulate production from 1,300 ton in 2010 to 10,000 ton in 2012, and TDF chips production from 6,500 ton in 2010 to 15,000 ton in following years. For RECYKL, the TDF chips are an important product, since they are used as alternative fuel in furnaces of Chełm cement factories. In 2010 they also introduced new collection points for end of life tires.
“We appreciate, and highly value, the fact that we buy our equipment from one company, who we can contact in all matters. When we have a question, it is never redirected to another company or subcontractor. Sales, service, product development – we are always in contact with the same people, who are also responsible for quality of the machines,“ says Jasiewicz. “We are also impressed by the competence, experience and know-how that the people at Rub-Met and Eldan possess. They are always one step ahead in predicting what will happen in the market next. When developing our production, we basically extend it according to the modular Eldan system. If Eldan has the solution to what we are looking for, we will always choose Eldan.”
Cleaning steel and rubber granulate production
RECYKL noticed an increased demand from the industry for cleaning up the previously unwanted by-fraction, steel. In 2011 RECYKL acquired an Eldan Steel Cleaning System and an upgrade of the existing tire recycling line. The steel cleaning system will turn 0-12 mm steel (with a rubber and textile content of 15-20%) into 97-98% pure steel at up to 3-ton/production hour.
The upgrade of the existing granulation and separation system consists of e.g. four Classifiers (PC15T, PC1750T and PC1000), an Overband Magnet (DM2200), two Fine Granulators (FG1504), a Drum Magnet, an Aspirator (FP1750) and a Separation Table (C26) accompanied by an additional cleaning system for the undersize rubber fractions, involving e.g. Aspirator (ASP1250). With the upgrade they will be able to process car and truck tire at up to 4 ton input/production hour producing 1-4 mm main fraction and up to 2,5 ton input/production hour producing 0,5-2 mm main fraction.
“The decision making process might seem very fast at RECYKL. They see a problem or an opportunity, they find the solution which is proven efficient and they acquire it. It is however never hasty, but strategically well planned in advance,” says Kajzer. “Because of RECYKL always being one step ahead, they only tire recycling derived steel cleaner in Poland on a professional industry level.”
The cleaned steel is very popular with steel smelters, since it has a high purity. The rubber granulate is most commonly used material for building sports and recreational objects, playgrounds. In connection to the UEFA European Championship in Poland and Ukraine in 2012, the government introduced a 2 year national program for building artificial sport fields. For that purpose 2,500 fields have been created in a large majority of Polish municipalities. Part from the traditional benefits from using recycled rubber in these applications, like flexibility, low abrasion and endurance, heath and environmental concerns are important to RECYKL. They are thorough to point out that they sell rubber granulate without admixtures which does not contain any toxic or cancer genic elements, nor give an unpleasant smell.
In 2012 RECYKL added an additional Eldan Steel Cleaning System in order to be able to meet the market demand. It will turn the scrap steel (up to 50 mm steel wire with approx. 30% rubber and textile) into 98-99% pure steel wire (with a density of 0.7-0.8) at up to 3 ton/production hour.
“We would not make black figures if we only depended on rubber granulate. We need steel cleaning as well” says Stachowiak.
Expansion through merger and investments
In December of 2013, RECYKL merged with tire recycling competitor ABC Recykling. ABC Recykling was one of the first Eldan tire recycling customers in Poland acquiring their equipment in 2001, and also the reason why RECYKL entered the industry in 2004.
“We have noticed that the market has become tougher, and many companies consolidate in order to gain market shares, or even to survive the hard competition. By acquiring ABC Recykling, we will be able to meet market demand in a better and more efficient way. We will be able to clean larger quantities of steel, and produce larger quantities of e.g. TDF and various sizes of rubber granulate,” says Jasiewicz. “Also, we will gain competence from the former ABC Recykling employees, which are invaluable. The technical team, and the former technical manager Janusz Sancewicz at ABC Recykling, has already started to plan for the optimal use of the facilities and the equipment. The aim is to reduce costs and to increase capacity, and sales.”
Bright future - together with Eldan
In Poland there are no direct financial initiatives for taking care of waste tires. The financial opportunity is found in what the waste tire can be used for – i.e. recycling and resell of tire chips, rubber granulate and cleaned steel. Membership of Poland in EU and gradual implementation of EU law brings a number of environmental obligations for both companies and authorities. In order to meet the requirements specified by wide range of environmental regulations, one needs to cooperate with companies that guarantee proper waste handling. Polish legislations state that at least 15% of the waste tires need to be recycled. In reality almost 30% are recycled, and the rest are mainly sent directly to incineration. When disposing of tires, the company needs to receive a certificate which is a proof of what happened to the tire. Since there are more costs involved with recycling of tires, than sending the whole tire to incineration, that certificate is more expensive. Annually, about 70,000 ton TDF chips and whole tires are used as alternative fuel in cement factories in Poland.
“The future of tire recycling in Poland is, like in the rest of Europe, in the hands of the end user of the output fractions like granulate, chips, cleaned steel. During the past three years, we have noticed that the interest for using recycled rubber granulate in moulded products have increased. The use of rubber granulate in artificial sport fields is season based, while the use in moulded products is not, which the latter is better for us as a recycler. Also, there is great potential in using tire derived products like powder as bitumen in asphalt,” says Jasiewicz. “The industry needs to find new areas to use the various products deriving from tire recycling. In 2014 RECYKL will produce 20,000 ton crumb rubber from both tire granulation and separation facilities, 11,500 ton cleaned wire and 15,000 ton TDF chips. At the moment we acquire tires mainly from Poland, but also some from Germany. Majority of the sales of the output material is to Poland, but we also sell some material to Germany, Russia and Belarus. We also hope that the legal limit for the share of used tires which is required to be recycled is increased.”
“We are proud to be a part of what RECYKL has accomplished in Poland. They run a model recycling facility, and maintain it very well even though they have a high production capacity” says Bjørn Laursen, product manager for tire recycling at Eldan.
RECYKL have development strategies stretching many years in the future including e.g. which products to supply to their customers. “The secret behind the RECYKL success is gradual growth through continuous successful investments. They have big plans, but invest when the time is right, and the market is ready for it. It has been a true pleasure to follow their success story!” says Kajzer. “I have high expectations on their plans for the future, and the projects we are currently working on.”
“We are very satisfied with the Eldan equipment, and the reference list in Poland speaks for itself. There are seven tire granulation and separation plants in Poland, and four of them use Eldan equipment. Naturally, we wish that Eldan would be our best kept secret, but unfortunately good references generate good references, and their success is not by accident. In the future, if Eldan has the solution for what we are looking for, we will always choose Eldan,” ends Jasiewicz.
Read more about ABC Recykling here.