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Turning old into new: Goslar shows that recycling is worthwhile

Endprodukt Kupferkonzentrat (Copyright: Jörg Scheibe)

Even at school, we learn to separate rubbish – so that it can be recycled. The recycling of resources is also sensible and important on an industrial scale. Goslar is a hotspot for recycling technologies, and we present the top three companies here.

Metals and rare earths are the substances from which the tech gadgets we use every day are made. But their extraction and recovery are costly, ecologically problematic and often the source of conflicts at the extraction sites. This makes the extraction of old metals from electronic scrap all the more important. Sophisticated preparation processes are required to ready these for use by the industry. The Goslar region has developed into a top recycling site for special metals. The region thus offers exciting career opportunities, particularly for specialists in the field of metallurgy, chemistry and recycling.

Keeping its finger on the pulse of key technologies – H. C. Starck GmbH

None of our ubiquitous everyday gadgets, from PCs to smartphones, would be imaginable without special metals such as niobium, tantalum, tungsten and molybdenum. These metals not only have to be laboriously (re)extracted, but also specially processed and treated based on the area of application. This is precisely the core business of H. C. Starck GmbH, which now looks back on one hundred years of company history.

But not all metals are the same. With corresponding processing and treatment, the properties of the metal particles can be designed right down to the last detail and thus optimally produced for their intended purpose. Whether pressing, sintering, rolling or compressing: the company is an expert in all of the subtleties within the field of powder metallurgy. And the field of use of high-performance ceramics, another material processed by H. C. Starck, begins where other materials reach their limits. The company thus also has its finger on the pulse when it comes to the key technologies of the future, whether it’s in the field of electronics, casting, automobile manufacturing or medical technology. With over 900 patents worldwide, the company is also an important driver of research in the Goslar region.

Pretty in zinc – NORZINCO GmbH

We might not notice it in everyday life, but zinc is all around us. From vulcanisation during tyre rubber manufacturing or in the cosmetics industry: nothing is possible without zinc compounds. As one of the leading manufacturers of zinc dust and zinc oxide, NORZINCO GmbH is an important player in the recycling sector and metallurgy industry in the Goslar region. This makes the company a very important supplier for many sectors of industry, such as the electronics and paint industries.

But what is zinc dust and what is it actually used for? Zinc dust is a real all-rounder – it is used as a pigment for corrosion protection and is needed for mechanical galvanising and special processes within the chemicals industry. NORZINCO can acquire highly pure zinc dust and zinc oxide from recycled raw materials containing zinc using what is known as the New Jersey process. This is of key importance, as the recyclability of zinc is economically and ecologically sensible and important.

The company offers many exciting career opportunities for experienced experts and graduates.

Much too good for scrap – Electrocycling GmbH

Due to the ever-shorter life cycles of smartphones and televisions, more and more electronic scrap is being generated – which contains valuable raw materials. Recycling this electronic scrap is truly a mammoth task. The Electrocycling company demonstrates this in impressive fashion: the 160 employees sort around 4,000 tonnes of electronic scrap each month – this is equivalent to the weight of 5,555 Smart cars.

But the company not only handles raw materials, it also helps its customers to cope with the complex legal and organisational requirements of recycling. For example, Electrocycling GmbH offers to provide commercial companies with collection containers for electronic scrap and also collect these containers. The company’s services also include the dismantling of industrial plants across Germany.

Recycling of flat screens (Photo: Jörg Scheibe)

Electrocycling – recycling of flat screens

As a certified recycler of old electronic equipment, the company offers a closed recycling and service system (Electrocycle System), which fulfils all of the legal requirements. The significance of this is evidenced by the fact that the company has now recycled over half a billion tonnes of old electronic devices. However, the disposal of old electronic devices requires clear security standards in terms of handling data waste. Sensitive data must be deleted securely so that it cannot be restored.

And which metals are given particular attention during recovery? The most important in terms of recycling are steel, which is one of the most frequently used materials in electronic devices, aluminium, the recovery of which is extremely CO2-intensive and copper, which is particularly prevalent in the cables of old devices and is extremely costly to produce initially.

Which makes it entirely possible, then, that you are already carrying a piece of Goslar around with you in your smartphone – or that discarded tech devices from your home will end up there at some point…

Sorting on the conveyor belt at Electrocycling (Photo: Jörg Scheibe)
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