Ejvind Pedersen is a prominent figure in the global industry that supplies resources into the automotive sector, turning incineration bottom ash (IBA) into pure metal fractions that reach primary raw material quality.


Ejvind Pedersen with his companion Tiger

The non-ferrous metal separator recovers ZORBA from the IBA up to 0.5 mm grain size

Pedersen’s father moved to Africa in the 1960s – a decision that made him what he is today he is convinced. It is the ability to take risks, to leave a safe environment like Denmark and seek opportunities and experiences around the world. After school and back in Copenhagen, he joined a company in the resource industry that had factories in South America. After some years living in Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Peru, as a technical manager for six plants (and built two aluminium smelters to melt used beverage cans (UBC)), he and his family eventually returned to Denmark for his children to receive their education.

Driven by a vision, taught by failure

The young Pedersen was not proud of what the South American industries were doing to the environment and its people during his time there. He set out to find a high-end technology solution for better recovery of resources, with emphasis on metal processing and reusability to reduce the carbon footprint and the impact of hazardous waste.

In 1989, Pedersen built a plant for melting cans in Denmark, investing eight million Euro. Due to the fall of the Berlin wall, cheap metal overstocked the market and three years later he went bankrupt.

Starting anew with just two

In 2002, Pedersen started ‘from scratch’ and built the company Scanmetals- as is now known.

He and his wife Sue – his first employee who is still with the company – started by handpicking non-ferrous metals in clean material to gain higher value.

“STEINERT was there to help when I needed a solution renting me their x-ray (XRT) sorting machine to produce clean aluminium products”, Pedersen explains.

This was the start to his financial independence, which gave him the opportunity to expand his idea throughout Europe. Today, due to Pedersen’s success, there are many different sorting plants in existence that are used for upgrading IBA into primary resources.

It is all about those fine non-ferrous metals

Pedersen says that six years ago no one believed in the potential of small particles in the incineration bottom ash.

“We produce four truckloads of aluminium every day”, he points out.

“One can imagine that the resource hungry industry is waiting for it!” A significant fact is that these industries do not need to source from primary mining. This can improve on their sustainability report by using high quality secondary raw material.

The biggest incinerator in Copenhagen produces about 240,000 tonnes of bottom ash per year.

“We see that approximately 20 per cent of the waste that goes into an incinerator ends up as bottom ash. Within this bottom ash, 2 per cent is metal – pieces that range from 1-100 mm.”

At the incinerator, eddy current separation can lift the value in the bottom ash from 2 per cent up to 50-60 per cent. This 50-60 per cent of treated bottom ash is available on the market for sale – approximately 1,000 Euro per tonne.

“This means we pay 2,000 Euro for 1 tonne of metals. The small pieces are important to me.”

Closed-loop production with STEINERT’s accurate separation and sorting technology

Pedersen’s focus is on aluminium and the high-end quality metals acquired from secondary smelters. He invests in the technology for the removal and reduction of free heavy metals and aluminium alloys. The process starts with a non-ferrous metal separator for the ZORBA-recovery from the IBA material, followed by the induction sorting system, which extracts stainless steel in the next step.

Reducing dependency on primary metals

STEINERT XSS T (X-ray transmission) produces very clean aluminium by sorting out heavy metals and high-alloyed aluminium. The sorter detects so accurately that it creates a product quality of 99.9 per cent pure aluminium.

The STEINERT KSS FLI XF (X-ray fluorescence) is state-of-the-art solution for the separation of the heavy metals into copper, brass, zinc and precious metals. More than 97 per cent purity of heavy metal products have been achieved.

Customers, such as aluminium smelters, produce beverage cans from almost 100 per cent of Scanmetals’ production of that type of aluminium. Here, the closed-loop approach gets real.

In the production of beverage cans, producers have to take pure, new aluminium from mines. Pedersen’s customers are very satisfied with Scanmetals’ recovered resources quality so much so, they do not need to buy aluminium from the mines. It is a win-win situation because the buyer can also improve their sustainability rates. The recovered aluminium can also be recycled up to 10 times without losing its quality.

Scanmetals is comfortable in the knowledge it can source all its magnetic and sensor sorting solutions from one partner. That includes the non-ferrous metal separators, induction sorting, XRT and XRF – essentially making life easier and allowing for more productive time to be spent on new recovery ideas.

“There is no doubt that German cars are the best in the world. That is a fact”, Mr Pedersen says.

“I would put STEINERT on the same platform – efficient like a German Audi, reliable like a German Volkswagen. All my production people trust them. The machines are easy to handle, and all the technical components are easy to understand and use.”

Not only is material quality the key to success, but also the delivery time of the resources. This makes reliable machinery a crucial factor for material recovery success. When the company supplies aluminium to smelters – delivering to brands such as BMW ‘just in time’ – Scanmetals need to deliver on time too. Mr Pedersen has tailored his business in accordance to his customer’s needs and market demands.

Down time is a critical situation.

“If we were late, another supplier would be chosen. But we have very little downtime”, Mr Pedersen admits.

“STEINERT’s service department is highly sophisticated and helps us right away.”

Winner of the prestigious “EY Entrepreneur of the year 2018” Award

At the awards ceremony, Ernst & Young awarded Mr Pedersen with a prize for Innovation. This was for his contribution to the industry via impressive business growth rates, innovative strength and social commitment.

During his acceptance speech, Mr Pedersen took a chance. He asked if somebody would invest in his idea, to bring his idea to the world by creating jobs that save resources.

“I have learned from mistakes. I built a business that is strong and a new idea that has a lot of potential. I always faced challenges, took chances and I succeeded. This gave me confidence.”

Mr Pedersen sees receiving the EY Award as being recognised for his work.

“I feel that I achieved something in life. They saw the ideas I have and that I can make them come true.”

A week post the awards, Mr Pedersen struck a deal with Lego.

“They trusted in my ideas and plan to invest in expanding this next project in Europe, so that the material continues to stay in the loop.”

*Article published in the July-September 2019 issue of The Asia Miner