The acquisition of Colt Recycling will give global metals recycling company Elemental Holding Group its first consumer electronics recycling- and reuse-focused operations in North America. | Courtesy of Colt Recycling

Global metals recycling company Elemental reached a deal to acquire e-scrap recycling and ITAD company Colt Recycling. The agreement came shortly after Colt doubled its e-scrap recycling capacity in the eastern U.S.

In an interview with E-Scrap News, Colt Refining and Colt Recycling leaders discussed the pending transaction and how it sets up both companies for growth. 

Headquartered in New England and sharing joint ownership, the Colt family of companies include Colt Refining and Colt Recycling/Colt Recycling Southeast. 

The electronics recycling- and reuse-focused company has e-scrap shredding and separation lines in Hudson, N.H. and Hickory, N.C. Its ITAD processes take place in Hickory and at an ITAD facility in Merrimack, N.H.

Colt Refining, which recovers precious metals from e-scrap and a number of other scrap streams, is based in Merrimack. 

In a June 20 press release, Luxembourg-headquartered Elemental noted that it reached an agreement to acquire 100% of Colt Recycling/Colt Recycling Southeast. The transaction will give Elemental its first North American facilities focused on consumer electronics recycling and ITAD operations. Colt Refining will remain with the current ownership. 

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to be finalized in coming weeks.

Acquisition follows equipment upgrades

In an interview with E-Scrap News, leaders at Colt noted the company has recently upgraded its shredding and separation systems in Hickory and Hudson. 

Jim Maher, senior vice president, estimated that in recent years the recycling facilities have received an average of about 40 million pounds of material annually. About a year and a half ago, Colt decided to invest to upgrade both lines by replacing shredding and sorting equipment. The Hickory line was recommissioned in December 2022, and the Hudson line was recommissioned in March 2023. 

With the upgrades, the plants can now recycle about 80 million pounds per year, Maher said. 

After the Elemental acquisition goes through, Maher will become an employee of Elemental and will continue to lead Colt Recycling. He expects to continue growing the business, including expanding its facility footprint, under Elemental. 

Harvey Gottlieb, who is the owner, president and CEO of Colt Refining and Colt Recycling, will remain owner, president and CEO of Colt Refining after the transaction, he said. His focus won’t be on the day-to-day operations as much as projects aimed at growing the refining business. 

Gottlieb, who has helmed the company for over four decades, explained that they felt the timing was right to sell Colt Recycling, which the company has built up over the past 20 years. Further growth in the business would have required establishing new facilities, something that, at this stage in his life, he’s not personally ready to undertake, Gottlieb said. 

In terms of a sale, Colt had certain parameters, including that it sells to a strategic buyer and not investment bankers, that Maher be able to continue leading the company post-acquisition, and that the buyer provide a career growth path for staff as the business grows, Gottlieb said. 

“I think we found that buyer in Elemental, and that’s why we went ahead with it,” he said. 

By selling to Elemental, “we gave the employees a much greater opportunity in the long run,” Gottlieb said. 

Separating the ownership of Colt Recycling and Colt Refining makes sense, they said. The businesses do trade material between each other, and they’re expected to continue doing that post-acquisition, but “the fact of the matter is we’re really two distinct businesses with common ownership,” Maher said. 

Deepening involvement in North America

For Elemental Holding Group, the deal is another significant step into the North American marketplace. 

“This acquisition enables us to enter the e-waste recycling market in the U.S. and enter a very fast-growing ITAD segment,” Paweł Jarski, CEO of Elemental Holding, stated in the press release. “With this acquisition, we are expanding our geographic presence in the e-waste segment to the North American market.”

Based in Europe, Elemental has operations in North America, Europe and Asia focused on recycling valuable metals from e-scrap, catalytic converters and batteries. To date, its U.S. acquisitions have focused on recovering platinum group metals, especially those in catalytic converters.  

Earlier this year, Elemental acquired a majority position in Daniel Ball Converter Recycling, as well as shares in PGM of Texas in 2019 and in Maryland Core and Legend Smelting and Recycling in 2021.

Elemental also plans to enter into collection and recycling of lithium-ion batteries, the press release noted. 

“The use of Elemental’s existing waste collection network (almost 30 locations) covering a large part of the U.S. will allow for dynamic development of this activity,” the press release stated. “Elemental Holding Group will be in a leading position to obtain metals from three types of waste – spent automotive converters, e-waste and lithium-ion batteries.” 

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