Joint venture to recycle aluminum in Michigan

Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro and Padnos, a Michigan based recycler, have formed a joint venture that will industrialize Hydro’s proprietary sorting technology, HySort, bringing this aluminum sorting technology to the U.S. for the first time.

Hilde Merete Aasheim, Hydro President & CEO and Jonathan Padnos, President & CEO of Padnos

The 50/50 joint venture, Alusort LLC, is established between Hydro and Padnos, a

Together, the companies plan to install a Hysort sorting machine at Padnos’s existing sorting hub in Grandville, Michigan. Production is expected to start in 2024. The capital investment for Hydro is estimated at around US$4 million. 

“Digging deeper into the scrap pile and returning more aluminum to the cycle not only contributes to reducing emissions and nature impact, it’s also good business,” said Hydro president and CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim.

“Alusort represents an exciting opportunity for both companies to strengthen our leading positions in recycling. With our sorting technology, the joint venture can handle the most mixed and challenging scrap types that otherwise would have ended up in landfills. Instead, we bring it back to life as value-added, low-carbon products for the automotive, building and construction, and other key aluminum end markets.”

The HySort technology was developed in Europe and currently used at Hydro’s recycling hub in Dormagen, Germany.

Alusort will sort up to 20,000 tonnes of aluminum scrap per year. Padnos personnel will run the daily operations, with Hydro personnel providing technical support as well as oversight of the activities.

Alusort will mainly supply sorted aluminum scrap to Hydro’s recycling plants in Cassopolis, Michigan and Henderson, Kentucky, and potentially other Hydro facilities in the United States and Canada. Other metal fractions will be sold to third parties.

“At Padnos, we look for the next generation of recycling in all materials we handle, from ferrous metals to plastics to aluminum. Collaboration and market demand play critical roles in innovation. Hydro is the perfect partner for us to take aluminum recycling to the next level with our Alusort joint venture,” says Jonathan Padnos, president & CEO of Padnos.

Access to post-consumer scrap becomes increasingly important for aluminum recycling companies like Hydro in the United States. When cars, buildings or electronic equipment have reached their end-of-life, the materials used in these products can either end up in landfills or be put to good use through recycling.

HySort technology enables recovery of specific aluminum alloys from these obsolete products, helping return that material back to the same or similar applications for a new useful life.

On November 16, Hydro celebrated the official opening of the company’s recycling plant in Cassopolis, just 18 months after breaking ground at the site.

Hydro expects to produce 120,000 tonnes of aluminum extrusion ingot per year at the site. In total, Hydro has 11 recycling plants in the United States and one in Canada, but Cassopolis is the first to serve as a large-scale producer of Hydro CIRCAL.

Hydro CIRCAL contains at least 75 percent post-consumer aluminum scrap, certified by third-party auditors DNV, and has a market leading CO2 footprint of just 2.3 kg CO2e per kg aluminum or less.

“With Alusort, we will introduce our next generation recycling technology, pioneered in Europe, to capture additional value from upstream sorting activities in the United States. We’ll get access to more scrap types and expand our portfolio of high-quality recycled automotive alloys to our most demanding customers. Alusort is a key contributor and enabler for large-scale production of Hydro CIRCAL,” says Aasheim.