State-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant opens in Cassopolis

The first business has formally opened in the industry and technology park in Cassopolis – a state-of-the-art recycling plant that will turn aluminum scrap into high quality products.

Hydro, the Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company, marked the official opening of the aluminum recycling plant at the Cass County village’s Michigan Advanced Research & Technology Park or SMART Park.

The company, a world leader in the production of recycled and low-carbon aluminum, broke ground on the site 18 months ago. Among its goals is to support the manufacturing renaissance happening within the automotive industry in the heart of Michigan.

“With the U.S. experiencing a manufacturing renaissance, this is a great day for Cassopolis and for Hydro. Aluminum is a key enabler in the green transition. Recycling aluminum scrap reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while promoting a more circular economy,” Hilde Merete Aasheim, Hydro president and CEO, said in remarks at the formal opening.

“We are positioning ourselves to become the leading producer of low-carbon, recycled aluminum in North America. This plant in Cassopolis is going to be an example of sustainability and profitability going hand in hand,” she said.

What’s happening: Hydro, a Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company, officially opened its aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis. The plant will produce aluminum with the lowest carbon footprint in North America, company officials say. The Cassopolis plant is the third greenfield recycling plant the company has built in the United States. In total, Hydro has 11 recycling plants in the U.S. and one in Canada. 

From left: Emilie LaGrow, Cassopolis village manager, Hilde Merete Aasheim, Hydro president and CEO, Dre Kiser, production operator, Tyler First, production operator, Tore Onshuus Sandvik, State Secretary Labour Party, Jen Nelson, COO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president of Hydro Aluminium Metal.

About the plant: Expected to begin full operation during the first quarter of 2024, the plant will reach full capacity during that year. The plant is using Hydro’s next generation recycling technology, pioneered by the company in Europe. The plant will bring more post-consumer aluminum scrap back to life as value-added products in the automotive, transport, building and construction, and the consumer durables markets. The aluminum scrap will be sourced from neighboring states and local suppliers.

With production in Cassopolis, Hydro will have the ability to produce more than 2.2 billion pounds of recycling-based aluminum billet each year in the U.S. Recycling scrap aluminum requires only 5 percent of the energy used to produce primary aluminum, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The plant will make its initial deliveries to non-automotive customers, once qualification trials are completed, the automotive industry will be the destination for more and more of the extrusion ingot produced in Cassopolis.

Workers: The plant employs 70 workers. Hydro is also relocating and expanding its technology center from Zeeland to Cassopolis, bringing 10 research and development experts to support its growth plans in the United States.

About SMART Park: The nearly 400-acre site is adjacent to the Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC). The founders of the park, MEC is an electric cooperative, fiber internet provider, and propane provider serving over 35,000 businesses and residents in rural southwest and southeast Michigan and portions of northern Indiana and northwest Ohio. The park is convenient to transportation, including major highways, renowned industries, major universities, and metropolitan areas. The Canadian National Railway connects directly to Chicago, Detroit, and the regions in between, while truck access and facilitated rail connections provide a path to the rest of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 

Reducing carbon footprint: Hydro will use direct rail service to bring supplies to the plant, helping to lower the overall carbon footprint of its operations. The company also has partnered with MEC to source renewable electrical power for the facility. 

Markets: The plant will serve a number of markets, while also supporting automotive innovation in Michigan and throughout the United States. Michigan is home to about 90 percent of the top 100 automotive suppliers to the U.S. For years, automakers have been using aluminum to reduce the weight of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, lowering fuel consumption and emissions, and increasing performance.

About Hydro: Hydro has been operating in North America for several decades and is present in a broad range of market segments, including automotive, building and construction, transport and infrastructure. The company has about 6,000 employees in the U.S. in three business areas, with 21 manufacturing sites and two research and development facilities. In 2023, the company will recycle around 2 billion pounds of aluminum scrap.
Hydro Aluminium Metals is a provider of recycling-based aluminum metal billets, primary ingot as well as primary billet and foundry alloys. Hydro Extrusions provides high-quality aluminum extrusions and fabricated products.  Hydro Building Systems provides building facades and other exterior products fabricated from aluminum extrusions. 

Being a good neighbor: Prior to the opening ceremony, Aasheim and Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president of Hydro Aluminium Metal, visited Cassopolis Ross Beatty High School to present the Cassopolis RoboRangers, the school’s first robotics team, with a $25,000 donation to support the team. Last year, Hydro sponsored a tree planting with the village of Cassopolis and Cassopolis Public Schools. The company also presented the Cassopolis Public Schools with a donation to support the STEAM program in its elementary and middle schools and provided the village with new outdoor furniture manufactured from low carbon recycled Hydro CIRCAL aluminum.
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