Igneo Technologies is a global recycling company transforming low-grade electronics scrap into a high-grade and sustainable copper concentrate. It has been in operation since 2014 and is also a re-branding of Weee Metallica. However, Igneo is now growing rapidly and engaging across a broader spectrum of activities globally. Igneo has locations in Europe and North America with the next operation to commence in Savannah, GA, in Q4 2023. The company is uniquely positioned to provide environmentally-focused and custom-tailored solutions to governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, and more. The proprietary and patented multi-staged e-waste treatment process neutralizes noxious gasses while removing the organic or polymer content and creating a valuable and sustainable concentrate product that smelters desire.
Starting the Company with a Vision for the Future
Igneo was set up with a mission to ‘reclaiming precious metals from e-waste- sustainably’. Igneo’s history began in 2014 when CEO, Danish Mir, and his business partner, Dr. Glendon Archer, acquired a company in France that was processing circuit boards. They launched Weee Metallica which was later rebranded into Igneo in 2021. Mir and Archer had the vision that they could process more than circuit boards such that they could handle all types of e-waste containing low-grade materials that others are sending to landfills or dumping in developing countries. The plant in France has multiple shredders and a furnace and proved itself very successful. Due to Igneo’s success, the company expanded globally with headquarters being in White Plains, New York. Igneo is planning to open another European facility as well as expand further in North America with operations currently being built in Savannah, Georgia, and many more in the works.
The ‘Green’ Duo Leading the Recycling Sphere
Danish Mir, CEO of Igneo Technologies, has been in the metal and mining industry for over two decades alongside his business partner, Executive Chairman, Dr. Glendon Archer, who has been in the industry for over 30 years. The duo first got the idea early on in their career when they saw a business opportunity to work with smelters and refineries in the metals and mining industry. Their idea was to create a sustainable alternative to traditional metal recycling and conventional mining. Thus, they designed Igneo’s process off of a closed-loop model, which is greener and more efficient.
Igneo’s technology means that new electronic devices can be created and consumed with less harm to the planet. Danish remembers that back when they first started in the recycling industry, recycling was not well supported or even understood by consumers, businesses, and governments. Danish is passionate about the people and team they have built, the near- and long-term opportunities, and creating an organization that is both profitable and truly environmentally sustainable. Dr. Glendon Archer has been involved in various non-ferrous and precious metals plant and equipment optimization projects with world leaders in the areas of copper, lead, zinc gold, and silver metallurgy. He has hands-on experience in environmental endeavors such as wastewater treatment, off-gas cleaning, sulfur capture, slag encapsulation, etc. Meanwhile, Dr. Archer is a leading expert in the global commercialization of metal-containing residues and byproducts from the mining, metallurgical, and chemical processing industries.
Bequeathing Sustainability with Reliable Source of Metal Concentrate
Danish proudly claims that Igneo is contributing to the metal and mining industry by operating on a highly sustainable and closed-loop process right in the United States. In the traditional e-waste lifecycle, 82.6% of waste ends up in a landfill whereas Igneo’s patented multi-hearth pyrolysis technology recovers 98% of e-waste precious metal content all while mitigating any harmful emissions. By creating a sustainable and reliable source of metal concentrate, Igneo is focused on reducing the dependency on foreign mining products and promoting the sourcing of copper and precious metal concentrates in their own US-based urban mines. He states that the company is opening a new plant in Savannah, GA, that will handle an estimated input of 90,000 metric tons and produce 45,000 metric tons of renewable and recyclable copper concentrate annually. This will allow Igneo to continue enhancing its reputation as an active partner in the pursuit of green and renewable resources in the U.S. and abroad.
Technology for the Betterment of Mining
Glendon opines that technologies such as IoT, 5G, big data, and cloud computing have impacted all industries. These have also given manufacturers the ability to miniaturize and reduce the precious metal content, primarily gold and copper, into electronics devices. What the world is seeing is more devices with less value. That is exactly where Igneo comes into play. Most traditional recycling companies are not equipped or designed to handle the high volume of low-grade e-scrap, but Igneo is. He explains that the processes and technology allow the team to shred whole units on-site at the facility and upgrade the value of low metal content material by utilizing the organics as a fuel source for the process. It also helps in concentrating the contained value into a smaller mass that is easier to transport and cleaner to process for global primary and copper smelters.
Glendon states that now with connected homes, cars, offices, etc., the volume of e-scrap is growing at an unprecedented rate.
Innovation towards Eliminating Toxicity
Danish portrays several factors that make Igneo unique. First, is the company’s patented multi-hearth technology. Igneo is able to separate and recover 98% of precious metals like copper, gold, silver, and palladium from any other materials like plaster and resins so they can be reused. This is accomplished all while mitigating harmful emissions associated with traditional metal reclamation by utilizing pyrolysis. That allows for material decomposition at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen which results in minimum formation and emission of greenhouse gasses. Igneo’s IP is in a furnace. Therefore, the team has Air Emissions Control Technology that allows monitoring of emissions.
Second, when compared to its competitors, Igneo is able to boast a significantly higher concentration of precious metals and higher margins it can supply smelting partners. That is done all while reducing their carbon footprint and eliminating toxic pollutants that also reduce impurities in concentrate.
Third, Igneo recently included a new autothermal process that reduces the consumption of natural gas by approximately 90%.
Fourth, Igneo utilizes a carbon-neutral process and is working with the gold standard to receive carbon credits.
Fighting with a Carbon Neutral Spirit
Some of the major challenges Igneo faced are with finetuning process and branding, claims Glendon. The team is dedicated to monitoring and refining processes to be sustainable and carbon neutral. He highlights that Igneo is a relatively new company, while many of its competitors have been around for over 50 years. Glendon expresses that the team has successfully faced the challenge of growing public relations and becoming a top competitor with these names in the industry. The process has proven itself as to why it is the new sustainable technology for responsible e-waste recycling.
Precious Accolades for Precious Metals
Danish mentions that Igneo Technologies was recognized by Recycling International as one of the top 100 global recycling companies while being featured in the Jan/Feb 2022 edition. It is a member of organizations such as EERA, BIR, as well as vertically integrated Shred and Sorting with evTerra. It also consists of a Savannah project to create more than 150 jobs.
Getting Better, Getting Ahead
Danish says that making the move to a bigger plant in the United States will help the company expand on the sterling reputation it has built-in Europe. Having plants running at full capacity by the end of 2023 will make Igneo a worldwide leader in e-waste recycling. It will also help more precious metals be put back into circulation without having a harmful impact on the environment. Igneo will have a huge global impact. What’s exciting about the global growth strategy, especially in the US, is not capturing market share from existing recyclers, but focusing on material that would most likely end up in a landfill because it falls on the lower end of the e-scrap value spectrum.
By the end of next year, Danish envisions that Igneo would have invested over US$150 million into US operations. That investment will continue after 2022 into new markets and geographies. The company has no shortage of partners who want to work, invest, and grow with the team. Five years from now, the management envisions a global network of plants and collection hubs that will divert materials from dumps and landfills, and upgrade the materials to a level that makes it economically viable for smelters of the world to process into copper and precious metal products sourced not from mines but from discarded waste.