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In a “dramatic” development, the number of shredders installed within China has soared by around 250 over the last two years to a new total of 317, it was revealed at the recent BIR Shredder Committee meeting by its Chairman, Alton Scott Newell III of Newell Recycling Equipment in the USA.

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August 18 2019
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Shredder numbers elsewhere in the world have been largely static, with the global total of 1158 comprising significant contributions from the USA and from Europe of, respectively, 322 and 300. Fourth on the list, and the only other country with a three-figure shredder population, is Japan on 110, as per the BIR press statement.  At the committee meeting held during the BIR World Recycling Convention in Singapore, the session extended beyond these statistics as board member Torben Nørgaard Hansen of Denmark-based H. J. Hansen Recycling Industry Ltd A/S showed a compelling video of a fire at his company’s yard just outside of Copenhagen.

Thought to have been caused by the addition of an e-bike containing a lithium-ion battery to an existing scrap pile, the fire developed within minutes but took three days to extinguish, the speaker noted. Fires of this type “are getting more and more common”, said Hansen. Lithium-ion batteries represent a particular problem, he added, because of their proliferation and the impossibility of achieving 100 percent hand-sorting. “No way can you find them all,” he lamented.

Doug Kramer of Spectrum Alloys LLC in the USA added: “Batteries like this are ridiculously powerful and extremely dangerous. We are dealing with a problem we didn’t create.” Hansen identified three possible options to help mitigate the impact of such incidents which include: temperature- sensing cameras trained on scrap piles; installation of seawater pumps; and the placement of tubes within scrap piles that are capable of delivering high-pressure water. Other delegates recommended the use of fire suppressants and, if possible, the practice of “shredding to zero” every day rather than allowing scrap piles to develop beyond a certain size.

Newell revealed that the BIR Shredder Committee intended to conduct a safety questionnaire for shredder owners and operators in order to build a picture of the different types of shredder incidents and their relative frequency, with the aim of promoting best avoidance and response practices. During the course of the meeting, Dr. Thomas Papageorgiou of Anamet SA in Greece outlined the “complexities” of compliance issues for shredder operators as a result of the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive. Requirements include the implementation of an environmental management system with documented procedures, as well as waste acceptance and emissions monitoring procedures.