+49 (0) 421 9600-10
3 May 2018 - Wolfgang Heumer

New life for old batteries

Success stories
Bremerhaven-based Redux is the global market leader in battery recycling

Batteries to recycle
The company breaks down up to 25,000 tonnes of used batteries into their individual components © WFB/Focke Strangmann

Anyone who disposes of their used batteries in the designated green boxes – like those found in supermarkets – can rest assured that these batteries will be almost entirely recycled. Redux GmbH, based in Bremerhaven, is the world’s leading recycler of household batteries.

A machine that can sort 40 batteries every second

The X-ray machine in the large industrial warehouse situated next to the international port in Bremerhaven is, in a word, impressive. Not just because of its design or its size, but because huge numbers of typical household batteries rush at high speeds through small holes in its case, which is approximately the size of two wardrobes. Up to 40 batteries are screened each second using X-rays, before being conveyed into the right collecting container by a blast of compressed air. This machine is owned by Redux Recycling GmbH. “The system uses the grey shadows on the X-ray images to identify the type of each battery,” explains CEO Holger Kuhlmann. He pauses briefly, before adding, “The system was developed a good 20 years ago and is still state-of-the-art. Not bad, eh?”

Sorting machine at Redux
This X-ray machine sorts 40 batteries every second © WFB/Focke Strangmann

25,000 tonnes of old batteries per year

Each year, up to 25,000 tonnes of used batteries are broken down into their individual components in this Bremerhaven-based business. Their contents are salvaged and recycled. “Compared to other materials cycles, this is a relatively small amount of material, but we are the leading company in this niche market,” says Kuhlmann. Engineers and scientists from Bremerhaven laid the foundations for this success just before the turn of the millennium. They developed the sorting process as part of a publicly subsidised research project after the EU introduced mandatory collection for old batteries. Until then, used batteries were simply thrown out in household rubbish. Because of their heavy metal content, which at that time also included mercury, this caused significant environmental damage.

Batteries contain rare and valuable materials

However, Kuhlmann considered all aspects of the recycling process, not just the environmental impact. “Batteries contain a number of rare raw materials such as nickel, cobalt and zinc. We bring these valuable elements back into the materials cycle.” It’s an ambitious goal – wherever possible, Redux wants to achieve a 100% recycling rate. “Zero waste is our aim”, says Kuhlmann. In other words, an old battery should be turned into a new battery.

Specialised separation technology

The technical process sounds simple but is actually very complicated. The batteries are first sorted according to their type. Then, they are shredded and separated into their individual components using specialised technology. This raw material can be further refined by melting it or treating it with chemicals. Redux employs around 30 staff in Bremerhaven, and has a second site in Offenbach am Main. It works on behalf of the collection systems that manufacturers and retailers now have to offer by law. Altogether, Redux is responsible for battery return systems in 20 different countries.

High voltage
Old batteries should be put into the green containers in order to be recycled for new energy © WFB/Focke Strangmann

High voltage, even in used lithium-ion batteries

For a number of years, a new type of battery has entered the market, with unique requirements for the recycling process: lithium-ion batteries. They are used in electronic devices like smartphones and cameras, as well as in electric bikes and electric cars. “This means that we are talking about a number of incredibly different shapes and sizes,” explains the Redux CEO. However, the actual problem is the extremely high energy content and high energy density, even in used batteries. Voltages between 400 and 600 V are not uncommon. Before anything can be done with these batteries, they must be completely discharged.

Setting standards with a new method

In spite of these difficulties, the Bremerhaven experts succeeded in developing an innovative system to disassemble the batteries. The system is currently being set up and will begin operating in just a few weeks. “This technological advance means that we are well equipped to deal with the new market,” Kuhlmann says proudly. This has attracted a number of major parties who are interested in cooperating with Redux. Even though the company’s address predates the business by decades, it is certainly fitting: Batteriestrasse 94.


If you want to know more about Redux-Recycling GmbH, please contact Holger Kuhlmann, CEO at Redux-Recycling GmbH, +49(0) 471 97 24 811, info@redux-gmbh.de.

You can find the German version of this article here on the BIS Bremerhaven website.

Success stories
30 October 2019
Combating climate change with electricity storage from Bremen

Storage batteries are an increasingly popular way of making energy generated by PV systems available around the clock. That is good for the environment and helps to keep costs down. Storage battery manufacturer Powertrust is looking to tried and trusted technology and giving it a new lease of life.

Success stories
4 September 2019
Measure, test, inspect – precision technology ‘made in Bremen’

Not many people could name a manufacturer of metrology and testing equipment, but without their products we would not have space probes, aircraft or medical equipment. And Bremen is home to a whole host of these specialist companies.

Success stories
11 June 2019
Linhorn: Trust but verify

Enquiry, quote, order, delivery, payment – that’s the standard procedure the world over, but it doesn’t always run smoothly if the business links involved span thousands of miles. So in 2015, the Chinese Linhorn Group opened its only European branch in Bremen in order to establish better contacts with its suppliers.

Investing in Bremen
28 May 2019
Twelve hidden champions from Bremen

Companies that are largely unknown but are market leaders in their field – those are hidden champions. Which of these twelve hidden champions from Bremen do you know?

Success stories
18 April 2019
Generating your own energy transition

In 2019, many people are seeing their energy costs rising yet again. Intelligent energy solutions that use solar panels and storage batteries can save quite a bit on electricity. And ADLER Solar from Bremen know how.

Success stories
26 February 2019
Four entrepreneurs talk about what attracted them to Bremen

A company founder lives for his or her idea – no distance is too far and no obstacle too high. Four foreign entrepreneurs in Bremen share their passion for their vision.

Success stories
20 February 2019
Bremeninvest is highly appreciated in Turkey

Since 2011, economic relations with Turkish partners have been strengthened through the Bremeninvest office in Izmir. Kolja Umland, Project Manager for International Settlements and Erol Tüfekҫi, Director of the Bremeninvest Office in Izmir, report on the current situation.

Success stories
5 February 2019
Flyline – two decades of success in Bremen

Bremen-based Flyline can look back on two decades of success and expansion. The British Airways (BA) subsidiary began as a call centre with a 30-strong workforce. Today, Flyline employs around 400 people at Bremen airport.

Success stories
17 January 2019
A successful future based on attention to detail

Orthopaedic shoe manufacturers Indorf Orthopädie-Schuhtechnik GmbH & Co. KG in Bremerhaven successfully combine traditional products and processes with the latest advances in 3D printing.

Success stories
11 December 2018
When precisely isn’t quite precise enough

Extreme precision is the norm at Eickworth Modellbau. Major automotive companies and aerospace manufacturers rely on the services of this Bremen company whenever something needs to be accurate down to a hundredth of a millimetre.

Success stories
13 November 2018
Bremen is one of Germany’s leading industrial hubs

Bremen is Germany’s sixth-largest industrial hub in terms of revenue. Whether the sector is aerospace, food, automotive, shipping or steel production, Bremen has always been a major player.

Startups
1 November 2018
The man with an eye for AI

Esteban Bayro-Kaiser has big plans for his start-up, WearHealth. And he has no doubt that Bremen can become a leading hub for artificial intelligence technology. But what made this globetrotter choose Bremen?

Investing in Bremen
16 October 2018
The Bremen property market is booming

Bremen is expanding. Several construction projects will reshape the city centre. The 2018 Bremen property market report – an overview of office, logistics and retail properties, and of investment market trends – confirms that the city is an attractive location for investors and developers.

Success stories
6 September 2018
Safety first: sensor expertise in Bremen

We don’t normally get to see Littelfuse’s products. And yet there’s hardly any electronic device that doesn’t require components from this global market leader. The European headquarters of the US firm are located in Bremen. And they’re far more than just a sales office.

Success stories
9 August 2018
“I fell in love with Bremen as soon as I saw it”

It was a cold February evening when Paramjit Kohli first came to Bremen from India – and he loved it immediately. Read on to find out why he founded a company here and what lessons he has learned over the past year.

Investing in Bremen
7 August 2018
Bicycles made in Bremen – Velo Lab moves to a bigger site

Stathis Stasinopoulos built his first bike so that he could get to and from work in Athens more easily. At the time, he could not have imagined that his idea would see him set up his own business in Bremen. We visited the entrepreneurial engineer in his new workshop in the north of Bremen.

Food and beverage
2 August 2018
The capital of fish fingers

Fish fingers have been made in Bremerhaven for almost 60 years. Over this period, they have withstood all food trends and are more popular today than ever before. On average, each German consumer eats 24 of them a year. And they were probably made in Bremerhaven, the fish finger capital.

Aerospace
22 May 2018
Artificial intelligence made in Bremen

Artificial intelligence isn’t just a matter of computer programming. It’s a challenging question: how can a robot successfully deal with real, unpredictable surroundings? For 30 years, solutions to this problem have been developed at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). This Bremen-based facility has been so successful that its employees are now founding their own company.

Success stories
17 May 2018
Team Beverage moves headquarters to Bremen

In April 2018, Team Beverage AG moved its headquarters from Wildeshausen in Lower Saxony to Bremen. The company provides services to the drinks industry in wholesale, retail and the catering and convenience sectors. Now, its success story is set to continue at Bremen Airport-Stadt with the relocation of its head office and 90 or so employees.

Success stories
3 April 2018
Recycling containers that stand out from the crowd

Whenever you need to dispose of old clothes, shoes or electronic waste, you will often throw them into a recycling container. Most people have no idea that a large number of these containers are made by Bremen-based company JO-BA, which has established itself as a brand across Europe. Now the company has its sights set on greater sustainability.

Success stories
8 March 2018
How five women made their careers in Bremen

Wind energy, geophysics, translation, design and communication – we portray five diverse women, who have successful careers and shared their fascinating stories with us. What is their industry and working life like? What motivates them? Why Bremen?

Success stories
30 January 2018
Brefeo sells Turkish furniture in Africa

Fatih Özdemir has furniture made in Turkey and sells it to customers mainly in Africa and the Middle East. In theory, he could run his business from anywhere in the world, but there are good reasons why he chose to relocate to Bremen and found Brefeo Hanse GmbH.

Maritime economy and logistics
11 January 2018
A Bremen-based SME is bringing excellent sound and picture quality to mega-yachts

Bremen-based company Home & Marine works in a sector that generates huge interest, but is often shrouded in secrecy – it builds complex entertainment systems for mega-yachts. The company is reluctant to speak about customers and orders, but since it was founded just over 25 years ago, Home & Marine has worked on more than 100 yachts.

Wind energy
8 June 2017
DEME: Using Bremen as a base to focus on offshore projects

GeoSea, a subsidiary of the Belgian DEME group, is helping to construct of some of the largest offshore wind farms in the German North Sea – and in Bremen, the company has found the ideal location to carry out its work.

Investing in Bremen
30 May 2017
Leela Cotton – sustained success through sustainability

Environmentally friendly manufacturing and ethical standards are the principles on which the fair trade clothing sector is based. Leela Cotton, a successful German-Turkish textile company, produces clothes for children and adults that are not only stylish, but also make a positive contribution to the environment in the way they are manufactured.

Investing in Bremen
9 May 2017
AlfaNet: The Bremen-based company that brings Taiwanese display screens to Europe

Weatherproof displays for transport services, and screens that don’t produce glare in bright sunlight – these are just some of the devices provided by AlfaNet Computer und Electronic Handels GmbH, a Bremen-based company founded nearly 25 years ago by Thomas Lie.

Investing in Bremen
2 May 2017
ACSK Clothing: The cosmopolitan clothing company taking a stand against fast fashion

Three continents, four countries, and Bremen at the centre of it all – a start-up could hardly be more international. The young entrepreneurs Ahmed Cheema and Stefan Kuzmanovski want to make sustainable manufacturing and the use of ethically sourced materials standard practice.

Investing in Bremen
2 May 2017
ACSK Clothing: The cosmopolitan clothing company taking a stand against fast fashion

Three continents, four countries, and Bremen at the centre of it all – a start-up could hardly be more international. The young entrepreneurs Ahmed Cheema and Stefan Kuzmanovski want to make sustainable manufacturing and the use of ethically sourced materials standard practice.