Cassopolis’ new recycling plant bringing local jobs, low-carbon aluminium
Hydro breaks ground on its state-of-the-art aluminium recycling plant in Cassopolis, MI. When completed, the plant will provide 70 new, local jobs, support automotive innovation and be a key stepping-stone in Hydro’s ambition of doubling recycling of post-consumer aluminium by 2025.
Hydro President & CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim marked the start of construction on Hydro’s new aluminium recycling plant today in Cassopolis, MI. The plant will produce 120,000 metric tonnes (265 million pounds) of aluminium extrusion ingot per year and create approximately 70 local jobs. Hydro will invest an estimated 150 million dollars to complete the project. Applications for the aluminium produced in Cassopolis will include critical automotive applications as well as other transportation uses, consumer and building system applications.
“Aluminium is a key enabler in the green transition. Recycling aluminium scrap reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions whilst promoting a more circular economy. Our plant in Cassopolis will be an example of sustainability and profitability going hand in hand,” says Hilde Merete Aasheim, President and CEO of Hydro.
Hydro leads in low-carbon recycled aluminium, bringing Hydro CIRCAL® to U.S. market
Hydro is positioning itself to become the leading producer of low-carbon, recycled aluminium in North America. Recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5 % of the energy used to produce primary aluminium, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Following completion of the Cassopolis plant, Hydro will have the ability to produce over one million metric tonnes of recycling-based aluminium billet each year in the U.S., further strengthening its position as the largest producer of billet in the country.
Hydro is bringing its next-generation recycling technology, pioneered in Europe, to the plant in Cassopolis.
“Our state-of-the-art technology allows us to dig deep in the scrap pile and re-create value by bringing low value scrap types back to life as value-added products to demanding customers whilst supporting them in delivering on their sustainability-ambitions” says Eivind Kallevik, Executive Vice President, Hydro Aluminium Metals.
The Cassopolis plant will be the first large-scale producer of Hydro CIRCAL® in North America. Unique to Hydro, Hydro CIRCAL® aluminium extrusion ingot contains at least 75% post-consumer scrap, certified by third-party auditors DNV GL, and has a market-leading CO2 footprint of just 2.3 kg CO2e/kg aluminium. With a growing focus on sustainably produced aluminium, several North American customers have expressed interest in Hydro CIRCAL®.
consumer durables markets.”
Trond Gjellesvik, President of Hydro Aluminium Metals, North America:
“Hydro is positioning itself to become the leading producer of low-carbon aluminium in North America. Increasing our capacity for recycled aluminium already in circulation (post-consumer scrap) is the fastest way to produce zero-carbon aluminium”.
“By bringing large-scale production of Hydro CIRCAL® and our next generation recycling technology to the U.S. we help forward-leaning customers reach their climate ambitions by delivering products with a lower carbon footprint that promote a more circular economy.”
Supporting automotive innovation and sustainability
Michigan is home to about 90% of the top 100 automotive suppliers to the U.S. For several years, leading automakers have used aluminium to reduce the weight of combustion-powered vehicles, lowering emissions and increasing performance. Aluminium will play an even greater role in battery-electric vehicles where its combination of light weight, corrosion resistance, and high strength makes it ideal for structural applications. Hydro has been at the forefront of these efforts, with, for example, recycling-based aluminium alloys developed in partnership between its global R&D center in Norway and its Aluminium Technology Center in Holland, MI, to form key structural elements of the new Rivian R1T.
“Hydro has been in business for as long as Michigan has been making cars and the automotive industry is where the benefits of lightweight and infinitely recyclable aluminium really can make a difference to consumers looking to reduce transport costs and emissions. We are seeing interest from several aluminium extrusion companies and leading OEMs and look forward to partnering with them to further expand production of automotive products with our new capabilities at Cassopolis,” says Kallevik.
Hilde Aasheim, President and CEO of Hydro:
“Hydro has a 100-year history of creating value in local communities around the world. Collaboration with local stakeholders has been crucial from the start, and we will continue this in Cassopolis, Michigan by bringing stable jobs, career opportunities as well as investing in local education to bring forth the next generation of Hydro employees”
“With auto manufacturers switching to electric vehicles, combined with the growing need for aluminium, we see this as an opportunity to bring our next-generation recycling technology to the US, expand our offering of low-carbon aluminium while also bringing not just jobs but long-term career opportunities to the Village of Cassopolis”
Care and collaboration are at the heart of The Hydro Way
To mark the start of construction of the new plant in Cassopolis, Hydro was joined by guests from local and state government, the Norwegian Embassy to the U.S., industry partners and potential customers. Hydro sponsored a tree planting with the Village of Cassopolis and Cassopolis Public Schools. The company also presented the Cassopolis Public Schools with a donation to support their STEAM program, and provided the Village with new outdoor furniture manufactured from low-carbon recycled Hydro CIRCAL® aluminium.
“Hydro strives to be a good neighbor and we have a 100-year history of creating value through collaboration with local communities around the world. We have received a warm welcome in Cassopolis and look forward continuing working with the local community to bring stable jobs, career opportunities as well as investing in local education to bring forth the next generation of Hydro employees,” says Aasheim.
Eivind Kallevik, EVP, Hydro Aluminium Metal, spoke with Aluminium International Today on the news in an exclusive interview.
Why did you choose this location?
It is very important to be close to our customers and to sources of scrap material. The Midwest or the upper Midwest is a perfect location because it's close to a lot of the OEM’s and OEM suppliers.
What are you most excited about?
One of the things I find extremely exciting about this facility is that this will introduce CIRCAL into the US, a product that is based on 75% post-consumer scrap. The scrap is sourced from old buildings to high voltage cables and cars, and we produce perfectly new high quality billets.
How have you incorporated social sustainability initiatives?
What we do and we started on the 20th April 2022, is we work closely with the communities outside our factory. We focus on creating local employment directly and work together with schools and education systems to ensure that there is a good quality education as well as open up opportunities.
We estimate that 70 new employees will be recruited. This has started already this month, even though the plant is not going to start operating until 2023.
What role will the plant play in relation to the automotive industry and the electric vehicle industry?
If you look back to 2005 and compare the amount of aluminium in American automobiles, the demand for aluminium has almost doubled. We are quite optimistic in terms of the growth trajectory towards aluminium in automotive industry.
And then this also goes back to my initial statement in terms of the location of the plant because it is in the middle of the US ‘automobile heartland’ .
You are bringing a lot of scrap material into the production line, what would you say are the main challenges faced with bringing in such high quantities of scrap material?
This is really where we bring in the technology that we've pioneered in Europe. We have been working with a post consumer scrap in Europe for many years. Part of the competitive edge is understanding the process and creating a product in order to satisfy the customers requirement in the product they need. And this comes from the experience that we built over years in Europe, which we now are implementing in the US.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I would like to credit the village of Cassopolis who have really been open to cooperating with us and enabling us to move into the village.
We see great benefits in the collaboration and the partnerships that we have established in the area and I think our common goals and targets are a great base for longstanding good, successful relationship.
Eivind Kallevik, EVP, Hydro Aluminium Metal:
“Hydro has been in business for as long as Michigan has been making cars and the automotive industry is where the benefits of light-weight and infinitely recyclable aluminium really can make a difference to consumers looking to reduce transport costs and reduce emissions.”
“The Cassopolis project represents a key stepping-stone toward Hydro’s goal becoming the world’s leading upcycler of post-consumer aluminium scrap. Our unique, state-of-the-art technology allows us to dig deep in the scrap pile and create value by bringing low value scrap types back to life as value-added products in the automotive, transport, buildings and construction and the consumer durables markets.”