With China's blessing, Shanghai Sigma should ride high in recycling

Nov 23, 2005 | 12:22 PM | Kevin Foster

China's metals recycling industry has backing from Beijing, and Shanghai Sigma Metals Inc. seems set to benefit.

China's demand for scrap has changed the dynamics of the global industry over the past decade. But being a scrap metals recycler in China hasn't always been smooth sailing, according to Tony Huang, head of Shanghai Sigma, the country's largest secondary aluminum producer. "Ten years ago, the government treated companies in the scrap business like criminals. Now, we are like heroes."

In the years immediately following the formation of Shanghai Sigma in 1993, the Chinese government's main concern with scrap importers was to set restrictions on what they called "garbage," Huang said.

But the government has now given its backing to developing China's recycling industry and is coming to companies like Shanghai Sigma to ask what can be done to help boost the nonferrous scrap sector.

"In China, it all depends on how the political wind blows," Huang said after hosting the opening of the company's new 300,000-tonne-a-year Shanghai plant, the world's largest secondary aluminum operation.

The Shanghai plant is the latest and most dramatic growth stage for Sigma, which began life as a scrap and seafood exporter in New Jersey in 1978. The seafood business still exists, but scrap is the company's focus and is the main driver behind its 2004 turnover of $400 million.....

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