Umicore, Pioneers in Closing the Loop, at Green Week 2014

Brussels, 4th June 2014. Umicore will participate at Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, taking place from 3rd to 5th June in Brussels. This year’s theme ‘Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency & Waste’ fits closely with Umicore’s core activities.

Umicore will showcase its closed loop business model focusing specifically on its products and services for the automotive sector. Umicore not only produces and recycles automotive catalysts and rechargeable battery materials but also offers recycling services for electronics in cars and recovers zinc from the galvanizing process of car parts.

Visitors are also invited to bring their old mobile phones to the event and place them in our collection box for safe and environmentally friendly recycling.

At the morning session on Transport at the Egg Centre on 5th June, Egbert Lox, Senior Vice President Government Affairs of Umicore, will give a speech on automotive catalysts. He will focus on how catalysts and Euro 6 emission standards help make the internal combustion engine cleaner. He will also examine how catalysts can be recycled, thereby closing the materials loop and addressing an important societal and environmental challenge.

He states: “Recovering valuable and critical resources through recycling not only supports and enhances Europe’s competitiveness. Recycling can also play a role in protecting human health and improving environmental performance. To achieve a truly competitive circular economy, cooperation is necessary along the full value chain from consumers through to collectors and recyclers such as Umicore. In recycling the system is only as good as its weakest link.”

Umicore has more than 200 years of experience in metallurgy, materials science and chemistry. This experience has been used in recent years to develop a closed loop business model and to grow the scale and breadth of its recycling services. Today Umicore ranks as one of the most sustainable corporations in the world.

More on the origins of our recycling activities:

  • Operations started in Hoboken in 1887 with a process that treated silver and lead containing raw materials
  • By the end of the 1980s the installations and processes mainly focused on refining primary raw materials
  • In the late 1990s Umicore decided to focus on the treatment of complex residues and end-of-life products that contain precious and specialty metals
  • Hoboken is the world’s most advanced, largest and cleanest operation for recycling precious and specialty metals.  It employs around 1,650 people. 


More on our investments in our recycling plant in Hoboken:

  • Since 1995 Umicore has invested a total of about 600 million euro in the Hoboken site
  • Investments have resulted in more efficient technologies and processes, lower energy consumption, reduced noise, lower emissions and lower impact on the environment. They include new biological waste water treatment and gas cleaning installations
  • Umicore recently announced its intention to invest an additional 100 million euro in Hoboken.


More on our production capacity:

  • Hoboken plant is one of the world’s largest silver refineries with a production capacity of 2,400 tonnes of high purity silver
  • Umicore is one of the largest refiners of Pt, Pd & Rh
  • Umicore Precious Metals Refining processes about 1,000 tonnes of secondary and end-of-life materials per day or around 350,000 tonnes annually
  • Some 200 types of different materials are processed such as spent catalysts and industrial by-products. Some 10% is coming from e-scrap, such as computer circuit boards, mobile phones, etc.


Comparison recycling to mining:

  • 2,000 grams of pgms (platinum group metals) can be extracted per tonne of spent automotive catalysts compared to 5 grams per tonne of mined ores
  • Umicore’s recycling activities emit 90% less CO2 compared to traditional mining


Number of metals Umicore recovers:

  • Umicore in Hoboken recovers more than 20 elements; 17 from its Precious Metals Refining activities (Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, Rh, Ru, Ir, Cu, Pb, Ni, Sn, Bi, Se, Te, Sb, As, In) and 5 additional from its Battery Recycling activities (4 REE and Co)
  • Outside Hoboken Umicore recovers zinc (from galvanization activities), cobalt (Cobalt & Specialty Materials), and germanium (Electro-Optic Materials)