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EMR’s Becker shredder: The world’s most advanced metal recycling facility

Olivia Healey

Becker metal reprocessing
Becker metal reprocessing

At a 26-acre site in the US city of Becker, Minnesota, EMR has built the world’s most advanced – and most sustainably run – shedder facility. It is a project that has created a new benchmark for a greener, low carbon metal recycling industry.

“We have visitors coming from all over the world to see our facility at work,”

says Scott Helberg, COO of EMR USA’s Northern Region– a key part of EMR’s growing US operations.

“There’s a lot of great work happening at shredder sites across the industry, making metal recycling more sustainable, but Becker is the first facility to put all of that innovation in one place.”

Metal shredders are used to collect, shred and prepare the metals contained in end-of-life vehicles, demolition material and household items, ready to be recycled and re-enter the circular economy. Approximately 85 percent of a car that arrives at an EMR shredder will go on to be recycled.

With the Becker facility located in a US state famous for its waterways, rural economy and the diversity of its natural landscapes, EMR has developed a shredder that runs on 100 percent renewable energy and is the world’s most environmentally friendly shredder, producing the lowest emissions to air and water.

“As Minnesotans, we have a lot of pride about our state and the places where we live and work, so a lot of people in the community had concerns when they first heard that a recycling company was arriving in their neighborhood,” says Scott. “I made sure we had meetings where everybody could challenge us, ask us questions and learn more about what we were planning to build. Now that they can see our shredder is clean, quiet and isn’t an eye sore, its seen as a really valuable part of the local economy.”

One of the most important advantages of EMR’s state-of-the-art site is that the entire facility is fully enclosed and operates with negative air pressure. This avoids the risk of pollutants running off material during rainfall into the soil, contaminating the water table. Just as importantly, it means it doesn’t create the levels of noise often associated with shredders.

“Customers who are curious about what we do, arrive on site and tell us they’re disappointed that the facility isn’t running, but it is – because the shredder is enclosed it’s so quiet that they don’t hear anything.”

EMR constructed the Becker shredder next to a power station, offering a ready supply of energy to the site – and ensuring that its only direct neighbors are other heavy industries. By using only renewable electricity to power the site, meanwhile, EMR has ensured that its most advanced shredder can also operate in a net-zero future.

“Moving away from our previous site in downtown Minneapolis meant adapting our business model and not relying so much on access to the Mississippi river. However, proximity to a power station means this site has a lot of other advantages that we can capitalize on,”

says Scott.

To ensure that material can continue to be sent to steel mills around the USA in a low carbon way, EMR has also invested $2.5 million in a new rail line, connecting the Becker shredder to one of the busiest stretches of railway in the country.

“As we went out and spoke to our customers, we realized many wanted to receive material in this way. An important benefit compared to transporting material by water is that we can supply material throughout the year, without any disruption when the river freezes over during the winter months,”

says Scott.

Despite the challenges, working together with stakeholders at every level of the supply chain has enabled the Becker site to become one of EMR’s most successful – as well as sustainable – facilities.

“Getting here as taken a lot of trust – from the community, the businesses we work with and the leadership team at EMR who believed in this project from the start. Our team is working hard to repay this trust and fulfil the potential of this state-of-the art shredder.”