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Newco Metal and Auto Recycling to establish new secondary metal processing facility on outskirts of St. John’s

Tractor trailer loads of cars outside the Newco Metal and Auto Recycling facility in St. John’s will be a thing of the past once the company opens its new secondary metal processing facility on the outskirts of the city later this year. Operations manager Don Drew says the new facility will create many economic and environmental improvements.
Tractor trailer loads of cars outside the Newco Metal and Auto Recycling facility in St. John’s will be a thing of the past once the company opens its new secondary metal processing facility on the outskirts of the city later this year. Operations manager Don Drew says the new facility will create many economic and environmental improvements. - Kenn Oliver

When a vehicle is written off in an accident or when that old hot water boiler finally gives up the ghost, most people dutifully make sure it gets dropped off at a metal recycling facility.

But what most people don’t know is that once they get rid of it, local recycling companies are only able to conduct the primary processing, which is to say they can crush it and put it aboard a truck to be shipped out of the province for second processing in Montreal or Halifax, with the end product exported to steel mills around the world.

“Taking an unprocessed item and taking it to a place halfway across the country to be processed for export does not make financial sense, it doesn’t economic sense and it doesn’t make environmental sense,” says Don Drew, operations manager for Newco Metal and Auto Recycling Ltd.

With its scrap metal processing initiative released from a full environmental assessment by the provincial government last week, Newco will soon begin making major upgrades to its metal recycling facility on Incinerator Road near Foxtrap that will allow it to reduce the volume of material at its St. John’s facility while increasing the resale value of the recovered materials.

“The process we’re going to be doing here is no different than what’s being done (in Montreal or Halifax) or in numerous cities all around North America,” explains Drew.
Adds president Bob Anstey, “It’s a massive project and my yard will be comparable to something that’s in California when we’re finished. It’s going to be that modern.

“I’ve been travelling the world looking at this stuff, so we’re bringing it all back and this is what we’re doing so we can do this right the first time.”

Logistically, it makes a ton of sense for Newco, which operates nine locations throughout the province, and not just because it allows the company to process more metals in a shorter time, thereby eliminating the storage constraints currently felt at its Robin Hood Bay Road site.

In 2017, the company sent 1,441 tractor-trailer loads of crushed cars or baled white goods (air conditioners, refrigerators, stoves, etc.) to Montreal and Halifax.

“You look at the carbon footprint of 1,400 tractor-trailer loads to Montreal or Halifax, that is high,” says Drew.

The new system will still require steel shred, which makes up roughly 73 per cent of the material processed, to be sent off the island, but it’ll be done so via vessel and not by truck, producing far less in the way of greenhouse gas emissions.

The remaining 27 per cent, once the Wendt 6090 shredder has done its job, will be fed through a Wendt non-ferrous processing plant that will extract metals like aluminum, stainless steel and copper — accounting for roughly 8 per cent. Nineteen per cent of the car that isn’t recyclable — such as leather, plastic and foam — will be destined for the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Facility.

“The amount of metal that will ever make it to the landfill now is zero because this machine will recapture everything,” says Anstey.

That, too, has environmental benefits when used to layer a landfill instead of general fill.

“Now they’re putting in layers and layers of fill, which is large and very expensive to do,” says Drew. “If they use this material, it saves the dump money and is actually environmentally friendly and causes a breakdown of the stuff in the dump to generate methane faster.”

Moreover, the entire facility will be powered by electricity, not by diesel, and it is being constructed with a new de-polluting station to allow for the safe removal, containment and disposal of batteries, tires, mercury-containing switches, and the various fluids and oils found in vehicles.

On the economic side of things, Newco says they’ll be adding up to 20 employees to the payroll, and the facility will also create an in-province market for smaller recycling operators to sell their scrap metal.

“In preparation for this, over the last six years the company also got involved in exporting of our own #1 steel. We were getting experienced with the market by exporting our own right to the steel mills,” explains Drew.

Of course, the upgrades are not cheap. The shredder alone comes with a $16-million price tag and there’s more new equipment needed to complement it, along with some development fees.
But regardless of the long-term potential to meet a growing need for this service — the machine can process twice the gross tonnage currently being dealt with through primary processing alone — Newco believes the immediate benefits will outweigh the cost.

“If you look at the cost, whether it’s a truck or by sea, of getting those 1,400 loads to its next step … that cost is high and you take that amount of money and reinvest it into this development here, that alone will help us,” Drew contends.

Plans are for construction to begin within the next few weeks, with the facility operational by this fall.

kenn.oliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter: kennoliver79

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