Environmental protection at Beerse

Since the acquisition of Metallo Group in May 2020, the Beerse site is part of the Aurubis group. It specializes in the recovery of non-ferrous metals from a variety of material streams.

The site is situated in the province of Antwerp in the North of Belgium and was founded in 1919 as ‘La Metallo-Chimique. As early as 1923, it was processing a wide variety of recycling materials ranging from end-of-life consumer products such as pots and pans to industrial residues such as factory tailings. In the 1960s, a process was developed to recycle copper, tin, and lead from more complex raw materials. The last few decades, nickel and zinc were added to our arsenal.

Today, the Beerse site excels in recycling and refining non-ferrous metals, metal products, and minerals. With about 450 employees, the site processes about 660 different kinds of recycling materials, serving a global supplier base of 500 players in 56 countries. These recycling materials include metal-bearing residues like drosses and slags, but also copper scrap, alloys, and metallic shredder materials. Building on over 100 years of experience, the company serves an established base of international business partners and contributes to a stronger circular economy.

Aerial view – Beerse site, Belgium

Recycling is crucial for a sustainable and circular society. Our zero waste focus, in which we strive to convert all scrap materials into valuable output, makes Beerse site one of the global frontrunners in metal recycling.
In order to provide answers to the increasing scarcity of natural resources and complexity of recycling materials, we have formed dedicated teams of experts in every step of the process. With in-depth knowledge of markets, metallurgy, quality analysis, pricing mechanisms, regulations, and technologies, we are always a reliable partner for all of our stakeholders.

With innovative, environmentally friendly, high-performance installations, we give new life to metals and minerals that in the hands of other companies might be lost to society as waste. We process these multi-metallic raw materials and bring them back into the value chain.

Compliance with environmental laws and regulations is regarded as a minimum requirement. By operating specific, mostly custom-made, and high performing mitigation techniques, we attain successful achievements in environmental protection, while still focusing on further continuous improvement. In doing so, we always ensure that we minimize the risks towards the health and safety of our workforce, as well as the impact on our climate. 
The intensive work on continuous improvement is also reflected by the implementation of best available techniques (BAT). This means our installations are operating at very high energy efficiency levels and we are setting standards by using advanced environmental technologies that already meet the new requirements or even exceed them. This process of constant striving for excellence will push us to recover even more metals for progress within the Aurubis Group in the future and underline the important social role we have in processing complex raw materials.

Metallo handles over 660 types of - mostly complex - recycling materials

For us, sustainability and economy go hand in hand. Convinced that corporate social responsibility is essential to our relationship with stakeholders worldwide, we build and continuously reinforce trust.

Daily emission monitoring, including stack emissions, ambient air monitoring, workplace monitoring, and continuous testing and analysis ensure transparency in environmental protection and provide a reliable and safe working environment. 

Environmentally sound copper and multi-metal production with adjacent residential zones and next to a nature reserve recognized as Natura a 2000-protected area requires efforts that go beyond legal stipulations. Protecting the environment and the health of our neighbors and employees is the foundation for safeguarding the site’s continuity, its future.

The neighboring Dessel-Schoten Canal with Metallo Belgium in the distance

Precisely because of this special location, the Beerse site protects the continued existence of biodiversity beyond environmental requirements. In 2019, the occurrence of special frog and salamander species was detected in the local ponds. In the coming years, measures will be taken to restore their natural habitat to the way it was originally. For example, more space is to be created for animals and heath plants are to be reintroduced.

Environmental Protection Beerse - Facts & Figures
Air emissions

Dust emissions have been successfully reduced over the past 10 years through a variety of technical and organisational measures. These reductions have contributed to a significant improvement in ambient air immission levels. 
A milestone for investments in environmental protection was the construction of a large, state-of-the-art warehouse specifically for handling dusty materials in 2008. 

Another example of a major environmental protection investment is the renewal of one of the main filters of the exhaust gas treatment system in 2019. Dust reduction measures are of particular importance for the site and are continuously developed and implemented through a dust emission reduction action plan. The action plan contains technical as well as organisational and personnel-related measures - but it is the combination of measures that has led to the breakthrough.

Ambient air is monitored in accordance with European specifications at a measuring station located in the immediate vicinity of the industrial site.

All immission values for cadmium, lead, nickel and arsenic have been complied with for years in accordance with European specifications. In addition to our own immission measurements as part of our comprehensive dust reduction management, further measures are taken at the site, such as the humidification of all storage areas and roads and the constant focus on avoiding all incidents. 

Water

The site's operational wastewater is centralised. In a wastewater treatment plant, all wastewater from the plant is treated in a physical-chemical purification process before being discharged into the neighbouring Dessel-Schoten canal. Much of the water used on the site is reused, for example in the iron silicate granulation process. The Beerse site has a permit for direct discharge into the canal and monitors the requirements closely.

The plant's water needs are met by drawing from the groundwater via groundwater wells. Various water management projects are currently underway, such as the optimisation of our wastewater treatment plant to further reduce metal emissions into water bodies. In the coming years, further measures will be defined to ensure continuous water protection through advanced water management. For example, environmental analyses are to be digitised in the future to further improve the quality control of the results obtained.

Soil

The site is located in an industrially used and historically developed industrial area. Together with the supervisory authority, extensive soil investigations were carried out on the site in 2019. Sites with potential remediation needs were investigated and an action plan was developed.

Investments in environmental protection measures

Investitionen in den Umweltschutz (€)

Investing in environmental protection measures is a high priority for us. Since 2012, Metallo Belgium has invested more than €16 million in measures to protect the environment. In 2014, for example, the Beerse site invested in a new separation plant to minimise SO2 emissions.

Measures and projects
Reducing air emissions: Carbon monoxide (CO) reduction technology

Implementation level:

  • The Beerse site is currently conducting extensive studies on a regenerative thermal oxidiser (RTO) and a next-generation afterburner technology together with external exhaust gas treatment experts. The investigation of the technologies will be carried out in 2020/2021.
  • The final decision on the technology and the start of implementation is scheduled for the end of 2021. There is already a set budget for this action.
  • At the Metallo site in Berango, this exhaust gas treatment technology has been in operation since November 2020, so initial experience with the new technology is currently being gained. The final solution for the site in Beerse will result from the knowledge gained in Berango. 

Status:

  • 2020-2021: Investigation of CO reduction technologies.
  • End of 2021: Selection and start of implementation
Soil testing programme

Implementation level:

  • Soil remediation project for the area under and next to the old electrolysis plant.

Status:

  • 2020/2021: Pilot test
  • Q3 2021: Submission of the BSP to the authorities
  • Q1 2023: Start of remediation
Water management

Implementation level:

  • Short-, medium- and long-term water conservation measures have been developed. The main focus is the improvement or renewal of the wastewater treatment plant.

Status:

  • Projects have been defined and interaction points have been identified.
  • Milestones are currently being defined (2020)
Certificates Beerse
Contact
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Luc Broeckhoven

Environmental Manager

Phone +32 14 609 602
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