HOW CAN STENA RECYCLING ACCELERATE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?

This question is at the heart of ASAP and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned about Stena Recycling. There is a lot to say about their sustainability work and the content on this page is a selection made by the ASAP team. The aim is to provide some insights into the recycling industry, its challenges and opportunities and to focus on Stenas Recyclings core business and role as a change agent for a sustainable society. In other words, how Stena uses their core competencies and resources to accelerate sustainable development. Want to learn more? Check out Stena Recyclings own links at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Did you know?

  • Stena Recycling was named Sweden's most sustainable brand in 2018.
  • We have nearly 1,700 employees who work at 90 facilities across Sweden from Kiruna in the north to Malmö in the south.
  • Stena Sphere, with 16,000 employees globally, started 80 years ago with a recycling business in Gothenburg.
  • Aluminium recycling reduces energy use by 95 percent compared with manufacturing, based on virgin materials.

Trends and insights affecting the recycling industry

In connection with changed consumption patterns and an increased focus on sustainable use of resources, we are moving away from linear actions and thinking, where there is a start and an end, towards circular thinking. If we, everyone in society, want to embrace circular solutions, we must think before we act. Already at the stage of thinking about manufacturing a product, we need to consider its entire lifecycle: design, production, packaging, use and recycling.

Awareness of sustainable resource management has increased significantly in recent years. For many of our clients, sustainability is now a clear part of their long-term strategies. The debate about plastic has also put recycling into focus, and has contributed to more major companies setting ambitious goals in relation to increased recycling of materials with an emphasis on using more recycled materials as raw materials in their production.

There is great potential in processing more materials, and we see it as our task to facilitate this. But nobody can do everything, and therefore we need more collaborations that combine different competences. This involves sharing experiences, learning from each other and thinking long-term. The pace of our consumption is high, and it is having a big impact on humans and the environment. Clearly, this cannot continue. For us, long-term collaboration results in a reduced climate impact and better use of resources. Recycling, therefore, has an obvious and central role to play in the circular economy. It is important that our industry makes this clear in order to achieve change.

Electrification and battery recycling - is it the answer?

Mining machines, excavators, trucks, loaders and cars. The list of different vehicles that now also run on fuel cells is long. The stakeholder organisation, Power Circle, predicts in a recent report that electric and hybrid cars will dominate the market as early as 2026. The pressure is high on finding effective methods for recycling as much of a battery as possible; and this is both a costly and advanced process. In 2018, Stena Recycling started to build a cutting-edge business to meet market demands with safe handling, since battery recycling is a complicated and risky process. We are pioneers within this area.

Cooperation and technological development

Increased transparency, faster flows, sharing services, as well as a higher degree of automation and robotization, are changing how society produces, consumes and interacts. This development creates major opportunities for better sorting technologies and other methods, achieving more efficient processing of materials with improved quality both of the actual processing and the results thereof. The global need for raw materials increases constantly and, if we are to match demand, technological development must become a part of everyday life. In 2019, Stena Recycling started cooperating with ABB, Combitech and Electrolux on unique solutions with advanced technology where, for example, a robot dismantles obsolete vacuum cleaners. There is a lot more happening.

Large facilities with higher capacity is equal to sustainability

We are continuing to invest in the Stena Nordic Recycling Center in Halmstad. This is one of Europe’s most modern recycling facilities and the hub of our industrial recycling infrastructure. Most recently, we are working on processes for the recycling of soft plastic and plastics from electronics, as well as from cabling. We already have the ability to recycle more than 95 percent of a car, recover precious metals, and sort both functioning components and electronic products for recycling. The property has a total surface area of 433,000 square metres, and so far, we have only used a small part of this space. The development of innovative processes continues. 

Future challenges and opportunities

The design of a product determines to what extent its component parts can be used again. In five years, we will see more products adapted for recycling and reusing than we see today. When producers start to impose requirements regarding the use of recycled raw materials in their production, there will also be a need to ensure that the products on the market can become raw materials for their production. It will be part of the circular economy to identify new, different, and more efficient recycling opportunities that contribute to moving the materials upwards in the waste hierarchy.

There will also be clearer standards for different groups of materials making it easier for manufacturers to choose materials, but also facilitating efficient and more homogeneous recycling streams, which in turn will lead to better quality materials. Last but not least, the technological development is fast, which means that in the future we will have even safer handling of materials, a higher degree of automatization, and more innovative solutions. We will also see more facilities in Europe handling and processing plastics. This is a direct consequence of the ban on exports of used plastics to several Asian countries.

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