SIA “EcoLead” has attracted BlueOrange Bank financing in the amount of EUR 4.36 million, which will be used for the establishment of a spent lead-acid battery recycling plant in Kalnciems. With the funds raised for the project from the European Regional Development Fund, the total investment amount exceeds EUR 8 million. Most of the funding received will be used for the purchase and installation of equipment intended for recycling.
“We are pleased to see that the BlueOrange lending client base includes more and more green-minded and growth-oriented companies that focus on development, international experience as well as the latest technological solutions. Recycling and re-use of waste is a fundamental issue in the long-term strategy of any country. “EcoLead” as an emerging enterprise can be ranked among the nationally significant projects. The financial contribution of such companies to the state budget and the jobs created are equally positive. This year, BlueOrange actively continues its lending program for small and medium-sized enterprises, which has a total budget of more than EUR 100 million,”
notes Dmitrijs Latiševs, Chief Executive Officer at BlueOrange.
An industrial building in the industrial area of Kalnciems, on 21 Jelgavas Street, will be adapted to the needs of the plant. Reconstruction works have already been carried out in the territory, the site has been reorganized and the necessary infrastructure has been created, including the installation of the first equipment. In the next few months, the plant expects to receive and install a metallurgical furnace and equipment necessary for the implementation of various technological processes. The plant is scheduled to be put into operation in the 3rd quarter of 2022, and recycling should begin in early 2023.
Over the next three years, the plant’s processing capacity is planned to increase to 15,000 tons of batteries per year, producing 8,700 tons of lead and lead alloy ingots. The metals and plastics produced in the recycling process will be exported for further use to Italy, the Czech Republic and other countries, again for the production of new batteries, thus ensuring a green full production cycle.
The battery recycling plant in Kalnciems will be the only recycling plant of this type in Latvia. Similar recycling plants operate all over Europe, including 22 years in Latvia’s neighbouring country, Estonia. Until now, the end-of-life batteries have been exported from Latvia for recycling to other nearby countries, such as Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Lead-acid batteries are used in a wide variety of mechanisms for storing electricity, including in cars, motorcycles, telecommunications towers, and trains.
“In Latvia, about 10,000 tons of lead batteries are collected for recycling per year, and this amount increases by an average of 7% each year. With the opening of a new plant, Latvia will also be able to ensure the recycling of the produced waste, which is not only a moral obligation of every country, but also a very important factor in the context of the European Green Deal, which provide for the recycling of waste as close as possible to its place of origin,”
says Deniss Uļjanovs, Member of the Board of SIA “EcoLead”.
The battery recycling plant in Kalnciems will provide more than 50 new jobs. Most of them will be professionals, and it is planned to recruit and train mainly local specialists for this work. The plant’s management team is now complete, and the selection of other employees is to begin in the next few months.
In 2020, SIA “EcoLead” received a category A polluting activity permit from the State Environmental Service, which confirms that the future plant meets the highest domestic and international safety and environmental protection standards. The plant will be equipped with state-of-the-art water and air treatment facilities and will be regularly monitored to ensure that the plant does not have an adverse impact on the environment and the surrounding ecosystem.
The received permit to operate the recycling plant currently only provides for the recycling of lead-acid batteries, but in the future SIA “EcoLead” is considering the possibility of expanding its operations by developing new types of recycling.
“The main priority of the plant will be the recycling of lead batteries collected in Latvia, but we are also ready to adapt to the needs of the Latvian market. Along with the growing popularity of environmentally friendly electric vehicles, in the long run, each country must also think about the options of recycling the nickel batteries used in them. Thus, the plant’s development vision for the next 5-10 years provides for the possibility of expanding its technological potential also for the recycling of this type of batteries,”
adds Deniss Uļjanovs.
SIA “Ecolead” owners have more than 20 years of experience in collecting, transporting and recycling scrap metal and hazardous waste. SIA “EcoLead” is owned by the Latvian businessman Deniss Uļjanovs and the Estonian company “Unimet Estonia”, which owns another 45% of the shares.