KMK Metals Recycling celebrating 45 years in business

   Wed, 3rd Apr, 2024

The 2nd of April 2024 marks 45 years in business for KMK Metals Recycling, having been set up in 1979 by Kurt and Edeltraud Kyck.

With its headquarters based in the Cappincur Industrial Estate in Tullamore, Co. Offaly since 1985 and the addition of a second large facility in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath in 2016, KMK Metals Recycling initially operated out of the home garage of the Kyck family in Bettystown Co, Meath.

KMK Metals Recycling provides for the environmentally sound management of waste metal in all its forms and collects approximately 80% of Ireland’s waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). At the time of setting up the recycling facility in Tullamore in 1985, the company employed six people. In 2024, the company employs around 150 people directly and contributes indirectly to local employment through contracts with local hauliers, businesses, and tradespeople.

In the 80’s and 90’s KMK’s main focus was on precious metal recovery from production waste of the many electronics manufacturing companies based in Ireland at the time. KMK’s knowledge of metal residue and metal filter cake recovery options in Europe and the US led to a multifaceted development of the company, eventually leading to an extensive recycling activity in the area of hazardous metals recovery.

A pivotal moment came in 2004, when KMK Metals Recycling won the tender to manage the all-Ireland fridge recycling contract, which accelerated its expansion into consumer WEEE management. The WEEE Directive improved regulation of the collection, recycling and disposal of WEEE when it became law at European level in 2003 and it was brought into Irish law in 2005. That year, Ireland’s two compliance schemes, WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform (ERP) were formed and KMK Metals Recycling was awarded contracts to collect and recycle WEEE from all around the country. Today KMK Metals Recycling provides extensive services including collection, sorting, treating and compliance to WEEE Ireland, the largest of the WEEE and Batteries compliance schemes in Ireland. The confidence placed in KMK Metals Recycling by WEEE Ireland and many other long-standing customers has led to the development of two EPA IED Licenced facilities. Process equipment for the treatment of WEEE and the recovery of valuable resources is applied to a very high standard on par with the best available, meaning the many resources contained in everyday items or electrical appliances and IT are recovered in Ireland.

A further waste stream was added to the Producer Responsibility list in 2008. With the Batteries Directive, Ireland was now required to collect and recycle household batteries from consumers. Once more with foresight and the support of WEEE Ireland, KMK Metals Recycling developed a collection and sorting system for household batteries. With the introduction of many new battery chemistries, the need to sort and isolate critical raw materials in Ireland is proving the innovation, investment and engagement with environmental concerns an absolute necessity.

The revised WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU came into force in August 2012 and became effective in February 2014. It set out the legal requirement for all operators processing WEEE in Ireland to obtain and maintain the treatment standard WEEELABEX (The WEEE Label of Excellence) or Cenelec equivalent. KMK Metals Recycling applied and in 2015, became the first WEEE treatment operator in Ireland to have achieved the WEEELABEX Standard. To date, the company holds and operates standards ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 and will shortly achieve R2 V.3 certification.

A further demonstration of the innovative philosophy was the engagement at a very early stage with UL graduate Dr Lisa O’Donoghue in developing an automated process for processing Flat Screen Displays. KMK Metals Recycling deployed the first ever automated process in Ireland in 2018, the ALR 3000. After working this new robotics technology in a real industrial setting Lisa went on to troubleshoot and streamline the operation and developed her latest version, the ALR 4000, which was produced in Ireland and is now deployed at the KMK Kilbeggan site.

Kurt Kyck was elected as President of the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) in 2019 and continues to use this platform to focus on his aim to achieve a level playing field for all European WEEE recyclers and producers through a harmonised, legally binding standard for the collection and treatment of WEEE throughout Europe.

At the International Electronics Recycling Congress in Salzburg in January 2024, Kurt was bestowed the iconic IERC 2024 Honorary Award. Kurt was described as a straight talker and a recognised leader who was receiving this award in recognition of a long and industrious career in the metals and WEEE recycling industry.

Speaking at a coffee morning held at KMK Metals Recycling to celebrate the milestone of 45 years in business, Kurt Kyck said, “It’s amazing realty when you stop to consider how far things have come in the past 45 years. When I compare how things were back then when we operated with an A-B telephone kiosk where you had to put the money in and push B to try and make a phone call through an operator to check if your material had made it to Germany. It was the era of telex and then we moved to fax machines. Fast forward to now and we are using all of the latest cutting-edge technology and even robotics. Thank you all very much for supporting our business. It is actually you guys, the employees, who make me really happy.”