New aluminum recycling plant breaks ground in Cassopolis

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It was a big day for the tiny Village of Cassopolis.

Cass is poised to play a big role in America’s so-called “Green Transition.”

Groundbreaking ceremonies on Wednesday marked the start of construction on a $140-million dollar aluminum recycling plant.

The project is being carried out by Norway based Norsk Hydro.

“So, it is metal coming out of obsolete buildings which have been torn down, aluminum from that, your old cars and other scrap, we will take the aluminum from that, old consumer electronics like computers and household equipment if you like. We’ll take it back and make it as good as new again,” Norsk Hydro’s Eivind Kallevik told 16 News Now.

The plant project is being driven by the future needs of the automotive industry as car makers look to improve gas mileage and shift to electric powered cars.

“Automotive, we believe, is going to be a key part of this. We see huge demand increase in aluminum in automotive,” Kallevik said.

The company says that in the year 2,000, the average American car contained 260 lbs. of aluminum. By 2021, that figures was 475 lbs.

“In the automotive industry, aluminum has reduced weight, and fuel consumption, and emissions from cars for decades. With manufacturing shifting from electric vehicles, demand for aluminum is expected to rise sharply,” Hilde Merete Aasheim, Global President and CEO of Norsk Hydro told the crowd.

Industry figures show that 75 percent of all the aluminum ever made has been recycled and that recycling aluminum costs just five percent of what it costs to manufacture new aluminum.

“Well, it’s a company that’s offering jobs, and it’s offering jobs in a field of industry that I think is going to expand,” U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, (R) Michigan’s 7th District said.

The plant will create 70 new jobs and Norsk Hydro will begin filling some management positions in about two weeks.

The plant is expected to be operating in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Today, the plant site was referred to as the ‘field of dreams.’ The dream of luring industry to the site was actually that of the late kitty litter king, Ed Lowe. The plant site was purchased from the Edward Lowe Foundation. “You know, it really is, it’s fun and fascinating that I get to kind of reimagine a vision of somebody else and see it through. So, being that catalyst to put a flame under a vision that somebody had from 40 years ago, and actually see it through fruition, it’s pretty exciting,” said Bob Hance, CEO of the Smart Park developer, Midwest Energy and Communications.

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