The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals launches at Brunel

A new research centre aimed at helping the UK become the first country to fully recycle and reuse its metals is to be led by Brunel University London.

The £4.5m centre will be dedicated to exploring how the reuse of metals can benefit the environment and the British economy, and will aim to develop an understanding of how the country can best shift towards a carbon-neutral, circular economy by 2050.

The Centre for Circular Metals is one of five such centres being launched by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Interdisciplinary Circular Economy programme, with the others focusing on other high polluting industries such as textiles, chemicals and construction materials.

Moving to a circular economy would provide significant benefits to the UK, helping the country reduce its environmental footprint whilst creating new opportunities for its industries.

Currently, the extraction of just seven major metals account for 15 per cent of total global energy demand and 12 per cent of global emissions, making it a key target in the fight against climate change.

While the UK imports almost all metals, the centre will look at how metals can be recycled for use in sectors such as aerospace, automotive and electronics, which could contribute more than £100 billion to the UK economy over the next decade.

“We are very pleased to lead the exciting Circular Metals research programme as part of the UK’s efforts to accelerate the transition to a circular economy,” said Professor Zhongyun Fan, Director of the Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST).

“Together with the UK circular economy community we endeavour to make the UK the first country to realise full metal circulation by 2050.”

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, executive chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: “The move to a circular economy, where we use less resources and reuse more materials, is a crucial element of the UK’s green industrial revolution and our commitment to achieve a net zero economy by 2050.

“By bringing together a wide range of academic disciplines with industry partners the centres will catalyse innovative new technologies and approaches that will boost the UK economy and benefit the environment.”

Read more: UKRI

RECOVAS partnership to create first end-of-life supply chain for electric car batteries

A ground-breaking project to create a new circular end-of-life supply chain for the electric vehicle industry is being led by EMR Metals Recycling, a world leading metal recycler. The project has won grant support from the UK Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.   Connected Energy second-life battery energy storage system, E-STOR.

RECOVAS is a partnership between EMR, three major vehicle manufacturers; Bentley Motors, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, the University of Warwick, the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Autocraft Solutions Group,  Connected Energy, which repurpose electric car batteries and uRecycle, which will develop the UK’s first commercial scale recycling facility for automotive battery packs.

Under current EU law and also post Brexit, manufacturers retain responsibility for the safe disposal of electric car batteries. There are already 164,100 pure electric vehicles on Britain’s roads, with that number rising to 373,600[1] when plug-in hybrids are included. This project aims to provide a standardised and reliable route for recycling and repurposing lithium iron car batteries at a scale that can cope with the expected sales of electric vehicles in the UK.

The project will start in January 2021 and will run for 3 years, by which time the partners expect the circular supply chain to be operating commercially.

Remanufacturing is the process of repairing and re-engineering existing batteries so they could potentially be used in new cars. Reuse involves giving batteries a second life in stationary storage to help balance the use of the electricity grid during peak use and optimise the use of renewable energy and other applications. The new supply chain will help all partners to triage batteries when they arrive at approved end-of-life vehicle treatment facilities across the UK for either remanufacturing, reuse or – where this is not possible – recycling.

Roger Morton, Managing Director for Technology and Innovation at EMR, said: “Our aim is to create a circular supply chain for batteries and, in the process, reduce the cost for end-of-life disposal for the vehicle manufacturer or last owner of the car to zero. By working in partnership with the RECOVAS consortium, electric vehicle manufacturers will develop simple design changes that greatly improve the potential to remanufacture, reuse or recycle their batteries at end of life. This will help to transform the economics of the electric vehicle market.”

Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC said: “Recycling of electric vehicle batteries is a principal part of the electric supply chain, so it’s vital that we get it right. The investment in innovative projects like RECOVAS, by EMR Metal Recycling, awarded as part of our APC 16 programme, demonstrates the importance of creativity and engineering excellence in the UK’s bid for a sustainable and commercial net-zero future.”

Developing and managing the infrastructure to process end-of-life electric vehicles and their batteries will generate new economic activity for the UK and create over  550 green jobs in the UK within the consortium members and their supply chain.

As part of the project, leading automotive manufacturers have agreed to share more information about the design and construction of their batteries, allowing the consortium to more effectively and efficiently repurpose or recycle them.

Morton added: “We have a very strong electric vehicle industry in the UK and it is changing fast. RECOVAS is an essential part of the sustainable roll out of electric vehicles.”

Professor David Greenwood, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, University of Warwick, said: “We are excited to be involved in RECOVAS. It is an essential initiative for the UK electric vehicle sector.”

The UK Government is supporting RECOVAS as part of a £49m investment in technologies that will help the automotive industry to “go green”.

Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi MP, said the investment showed that the UK “is leading the global battle against climate change”.

He added: “Backed by government funding, these trailblazing projects will help the UK to build back better by creating all-important green jobs, ensuring the sector can make further strides towards an electrified automotive future.”

For more information on EMR:

Website –

Call – 01925 715400

Ultromex signs major contract with Rio Tinto

Ultromex is delighted to announce that it has signed a major contract with Rio Tinto to remediate a salt slag landfill site in Europe. Ultromex, together with its partner EJM Hydrovac, will excavate, process and re-instate the site in France during the next three years. This multi-million Euro contract will treat 65,000 tonnes of salt slag waste.

Nigel Seddon, CEO of Ultromex commented “The signing of this major contract is the result of more than three years hard work by the Ultromex & EJM teams, including a pilot trial which validated and demonstrated to Rio Tinto the effectiveness of our Saltromex process for remediating slag. The Ultromex plant will be built during 2021 and will be capable of processing the waste at a rate of 18 tonnes per hour. Nigel Seddon

“We are pleased to be working with such a prestigious company as Rio Tinto and we are confident that our technology will open up many future projects in Europe and around the world”.

Many aluminium smelting wastes are hazardous in nature and historically were routinely landfilled before the EU and other regions changed regulations to prohibit further landfill. There are many such landfills in existence around the world and, where they cause environmental issues, Ultromex now has a proven solution to resolve the problem.

Ultromex, based near Liverpool in the UK, offers a range of technologies to treat and recycle aluminium smelting wastes. It offers solutions to address wastes such as dross, salt slag, SPL and filter dusts as they arise at the smelter, or in this case, where they have been stockpiled or landfilled in the past.

Business Readiness Bulletin – The UK transition

Issue 57: 16 November 2020

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year. Take action now to get ready for new rules from January 2021. This bulletin is issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and provides the latest information for businesses.  All information on the UK Transition can be found at

  • Placing manufactured goods on the market
  • New Guidance
  • Updated Guidance
  • Transition Webinars

Read more: Business Readiness Bulletin – The UK transition

ALVANCE Aluminium announces expansion plans for its Fort William operations

  • Investments in new recycling and casting facilities to nearly double production
  • New integrated billet plant to produce value added GREENALUMINIUM products
  • Early plans revealed for a new aluminium canning plant to package highlands water

ALVANCE Aluminium, a member of Sanjeev Gupta’s sustainable industry leader GFG Alliance, has today announced a £94m investment package to secure Fort William’s future as a GREENALUMINIUM hub.

ALVANCE will invest in a new recycling and casting facility that will take aluminium production at its Fort William plant from just over 40,000 tonne per annum (ktpa) to 80ktpa. The new facility will produce 80ktpa of long, round shapes (“billets”) for the domestic construction sector which currently relies heavily on imports.  To support the developments ALVANCE is also proposing significant upgrades to the nearby port of Corpach to improve efficiency of material flow.

With current smelting processes already powered by GFG Alliance’s zero emission hydro-electric power, the new addition of aluminium recycling and expansion into downstream billets will allow ALVANCE to manufacture some of the most sustainably produced billets in the world, giving it a competitive advantage as the demand for green aluminium grows.

Proposals will be submitted to the Highlands Council for approval and formally replace the previously announced plan for an alloy wheels factory due to a significant decline in the UK automotive sector.

Once approved, the new integrated business plan and associated developments will secure the long-term future of the Fort William aluminium smelter, safeguarding 200 local jobs and creating 70 new high quality roles. Subject to approvals and any further impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, ALVANCE aims to commence the new development works in 2021 and target full operation by 2024.

Sanjeev Gupta, GFG Alliance Executive Chairman said: “The transformation plan we’re announcing today underlines our commitment to investing in Scotland and our belief in the bright future of GREENALUMINIUM. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium and is a key part of GFG’s CN30 mission to be carbon neutral by 2030. By utilising domestic scrap aluminium that is currently exported, we will nearly double production here at Fort William.  These investments will make us more competitive and will deliver a higher value product in the form of billet for construction to domestic and export markets. The new facilities, alongside the Lochaber hydro plant, will create market-leading GREENALUMINIUM products that deliver for the environment as well as the economy.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with ALVANCE Aluminium to secure the long-term future of the Fort William smelter, grow output and employment through investment in downstream manufacturing capability.  We will work with ALVANCE to consider the new business plan and to secure the earliest possible investment in the Fort William complex.”

Brian King, Chairman of ALVANCE British Aluminium said: “I’m very pleased to be putting these plans forward which will provide a long-term future for our Fort William operations. Since putting forward our original plans for a wheels factory the automotive industry has gone through significant decline in the UK.  Fortunately, the construction industry is buoyant and is using ever more aluminium billet giving us the chance to produce a quality product making use of primary metal from the smelter and recycled scrap.  There will be opportunities for local firms to be involved in the construction of the new facilities and new job opportunities for local people.”

In a new venture for the group, GFG Alliance is also tabling plans for a new water canning facility, located next to the Fort William plant, to package Scottish Highlands water into recyclable aluminium cans to provide an alternative to plastic bottles for sale to the UK and international market.  Further news on this development will be announced in due course.

Regulating equipment and machinery when the transition period ends

The UK has left the EU and the transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020.

New rules from January 2021 will ensure that only safe and compliant work equipment is placed on the market. This guidance will help you find out what you need to know to prepare and what you can do now.

CE marked goods on the UK market

CE marked workplace products will be accepted in the UK until 1st January 2022. This includes workplace goods which have been assessed by an EU-recognised notified body.

Find out more about placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain from 1 January 2021 on GOV.UK.

The new UK mark

The UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark is the new UK product mark for workplace products and other goods. From 1st January 2021 UKCA marking will begin to replace CE marking for goods being placed on the UK market.

You should be ready to use the UKCA mark instead of CE marking as soon as possible. From 1 January 2022 you must use the UKCA mark on workplace goods products.

Up until 31 December 2022 the UKCA mark can be placed directly on the product or on an accompanying document. From 1 January 2023 the UKCA mark must be placed directly on the product. You should start building this into your design process so you can meet this requirement in time.

The UKCA mark will not be recognised for products being placed on the EU market.

Read more: Regulating equipment and machinery

UK Metals Council Launches Peer Networks Programme for business growth

The Black Country Growth Hub, with the support of the UK Metals Council, is launching the Peer Networks Programme for ambitious businesses looking to grow. This programme is part of a government funded peer to peer networking initiative for SME businesses to develop their organisations for future success.

The Black Country Growth Hub provides support to businesses and entrepreneurs of any size, sector or status across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Through this training programme the Growth Hub plans to widen and strengthen the business networks of participants, as well as expand their skills across a range of business areas.

For the metals sector, the peer to peer programme is being run by the UK Metals Council, a representative organisation made up from Trade Associations from the full spectrum of the UK metals industry, which in turn comprises 11,100 companies, employing around 230,000 people and which directly contributes £10.7bn to UK GDP. Many of these companies are based in the West Midlands and for the metals sector the new programme will be called the Black Country Business Growth Network.

The training is based on interactive action learning and will bring together groups of business owners or managers operating in the aerospace, construction, health & care, metals & materials or rail sectors. The training opportunities vary widely including Finance, HR, Sales and Marketing, Business Model Innovation, Change Management, but also highly relevant areas such as adjusting to social distancing, digital technology adoption, use of data to drive value in the business, EU transition, Net zero in relation to the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy.

With trained facilitators, these group sessions will help participants to overcome business challenges, recognise and act on new opportunities and create a trusted support network and improve personal and business performance.

Dr Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation who are just one of the members of the UKMC said: “We recognise that our member companies, all of whom are within the metals sector, are in a very dynamic business environment and face many challenges presently, so we are pleased to be part of this pilot project which is seeking to share knowledge and inform via a peer to peer training programme, initially within the Black Country region.”

Novel and key to this programme will be the groups self-determination about the areas where they want to focus their learning to heighten the learning for everyone through integration and discussion around individual experiences. Additionally, the training is in a format so that new, long-lasting and engaged business networks are created.

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute and Chair of UK Metals Council added: “‘We know that businesses learning from businesses is the fastest way to spread good practice and improve.  In partnering with the Black Country LEP, the UK Metals Council is enabling growth and development of this vital UK manufacturing sector, in one of its heartland areas.”

Tom Jones, CEO from the Aluminium Federation, agreed saying, “I am optimistic that the added-value that can come from the networking, that is the innovative part of this project, will really enhance what we can deliver to those who participate.”

More information and to register: Kirsi Lintula at ALFED: