Global Green Business Award goes to Metal Tech Alley in Trail, B.C.

Metal Tech Alley named Best Eco-Friendly Battery Metal Producer

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Jacomien van Tonder, the director for Metal Tech Alley, was recently presented with the Global Green Business Award’s Best Eco-Friendly Battery Metal Producer. She wears a purple shirt and stands on a bridge over frozen water in Trail. B.C.

Jacomien van Tonder, the director for Metal Tech Alley, was recently presented with the Global Green Business Award’s Best Eco-Friendly Battery Metal Producer. — Photo courtesy Jacomien van Tonder

Have you ever wondered what will happen to all those large lithium batteries when they eventually wear out? A Kootenay company is working on finding a solution to that very problem and its efforts are garnering worldwide attention.

Metal Tech Alley, a regional marketing strategy from the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) based in Trail, B.C., is a leader in economic development practices through the creation of a circular economy hub in rural areas. Jacomien van Tonder, the director for Metal Tech Alley, was recently presented with the Global Green Business Award’s Best Eco-Friendly Battery Metal Producer.

“We’re excited that the companies in the Lower Columbia and West Kootenay are being recognized for their circular innovation,” van Tonder said. “This is a perfect example of how Metal Tech Alley promotes local companies on the global stage.”

A man smiles wearing a hard hat and protective eyewear in front of a bunch of computers wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

“It is our belief that circular economy practices within a business will increase sustainability of a business in these volatile markets. This will also increase profit markets for businesses.” — Jacomien van Tonder — Photo courtesy Jacomien van Tonder

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.

“Metal Tech Alley is driven by circular economy principles,” said van Tonder. “Our mandate is to facilitate and promote these principles. Any company that would like to participate in the circular economy can be assisted by Metal Tech Alley.”

Metal Tech Alley works closely with local businesses like Teck Metals Trail Operations, Fenix Advanced Materials, KC Recycling, Retriev Technologies and Eagle Graphite.

“The area that Metal Tech Alley represents is doing revolutionary work in battery recycling and development of new types of batteries,” van Tonder said. “Metal Tech Alley supports the recycling companies to adapt to the rapidly changing technology in the battery manufacturing sector so that recycling can keep up with demand and design changes.”

van Tonder recently led a presentation at the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF).

“My audience was 9,000 people from 160 different countries. It made me proud to tell the world that this is where we work, live and play. And, of course, I invited people to spend their money here!” — Jacomien van Tonder — Photo courtesy Jacomien van Tonder

Worn-out lithium ion batteries get shipped to recycling facilities in Trail where they are then processed. Extracted metals and minerals get shipped to other facilities to be reused.

“Recycling in this area has been done for many years and the recycling facilities have been keeping up with changing designs and new challenges in the recycling front,” van Tonder said. “Research and development are being done by various companies for new electric vehicle battery technology with locally sourced material. This area has a small environmental footprint that includes clean power from various hydro dams. Our proximity to the U.S. border is important, since a large portion of the items to be recycled are coming from the U.S.”

A man and woman smile while working next to each other wearing reflective vests inside of a warehouse.

“Recycling in this area has been done for many years and the recycling facilities have been keeping up with changing designs and new challenges in the recycling front.” — Jacomien van Tonder said. — Photo courtesy Jacomien van Tonder

When it comes to important international collaborations, van Tonder is leading the charge. On invitation from the federal government, van Tonder recently led a presentation at the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF). WCEF presents the world’s leading circular economy solutions with business leaders, policymakers and experts participating from around the world. Van Tonder brought Trail to the world stage as the only presenter from a rural community in North America.

“It was a great experience, and it was a very proud moment for me to be able to tell the world about the Lower Columbia region as an industry-friendly area with high environmental standards,” said van Tonder. “My audience was 9,000 people from 160 different countries. It made me proud to tell the world that this is where we work, live and play. And, of course, I invited people to spend their money here!”

Metal Tech Alley is ripe with opportunity. As part of the LCIC and Metal Tech Alley’s sustainability plan for the area, the organizations are aiming to set up a battery hub for Western Canada in Trail. At this point, they are in the process of obtaining a feasibility study for such a battery hub.

Jacomien van Tonder with a background of Trail, B.C.

“This area has a small environmental footprint that includes clean power from various hydro dams.” — Jacomien van Tonder — Photo courtesy Jacomien van Tonder

Kootenay business owners looking to go green in terms of sustainability and profits needn’t look the world over to find solutions. The answers are right here in our backyard.

“We encourage and assist local businesses to increase circular economy practices or adopt circular economy practices if they have not yet done so,” said van Tonder. “It is our belief that circular economy practices within a business will increase sustainability of a business in these volatile markets. This will also increase profit markets for businesses.”

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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