Interview with Federica Foterni, owner of West Recycling

West Recycling represents one of the major historical companies in Sardinia for the recycling of metal scrap, with a special focus on the recovery of WEEE electronic waste. The company is located near Cagliari and it receives both waste from urban centers and  from industries.

In a sector where most of the entrepreneurs are male today we would have the pleasure of interviewing Federica Foterni, owner of West Recycling. With an enviable entrepreneurial charisma and constantly updated on the latest news on the world of recycling, Federica Foterni will explain to us how the company has distinguished itself over the years and what its future goals will be.

Good morning Federica. Can you tell us about yourself and the company? What is your history?
I state that my family has been operating in the metal and waste recovery sector for over 40 years: my father, who unfortunately passed away 10 years ago, has been involved in the recovery of ferrous and non-ferrous metals for years and at the end of the 1980s he was among the very first Italians to recycle heterogeneous and homogeneous plastic. So let’s say that, in a way, working in the waste recycling sector was almost natural.
West Recycling
‘s experience and bet in the market for the recovery of durable goods (better known since 2005 with the acronym WEEE) was born at the end of 2001 and it expanded in 2008 with the introduction of treatment lines refrigerators and other discarded electronic equipment. My company can therefore boast of having been the first recycling plant for the treatment of WEEE in Sardinia.


What are the peculiarities that distinguish you in the market?

The world of WEEE electrical and electronic waste is particularly heterogeneous. Potentially any authorized company that has the corresponding EWC can carry out the treatment of WEEE waste by applying only the “minimum” rules. West Recycling wanted to go one step further.

Since 2008 we have adhered to various types of regulations. We follow the provisions of the WEEE Program Agreements, the WEELABEX European standards and the Accreditation protocols dictated by the WEEE Coordination Center. From the first moment, it was a source of pride and satisfaction for us to have accepted all these challenges and, thanks to the commitment of all the working and administrative components, to have fully achieved all the objectives set by the regulations.


What kind of recycling plants do you work with?

Over the years we have developed several WEEE treatment lines. In the refrigeration and large white treatment line, we use the Panizzolo OPH Opener, in order to perform efficient shredding of scrap such as washing machines, dishwashers, ovens, kitchens and much more. In addition, we also have a smaller industrial and household electrical and electronic waste treatment plant, belonging to the category of R4. The Panizzolo treatment cycle allows us to enhance the metal content through the Flex 500 mobile hammermill in combination with various separation systems.


Which companies do you relate to for the purchase of waste and the sale of outputs?

Our supply market consists mainly of municipalities and WEEE consortium as well as, having an additional line dedicated to the treatment of ferrous scrap and motor vehicles, from producers of such waste such as industries, scrap dealers and car dealers.

Considering that our aim in the scrap market is to conclude the waste recycling cycle, the great majority of our outputs are sold as secondary raw materials directly to the steel and foundry. The remaining part, consisting of a mixture of metals and aggregates, is sent to other national companies to complete the treatment. However, I plan to complete these inert treatment cycles within West Recycling.


Can you tell us about the ASSORAEE association to which you are registered?

ASSORAEE brings together the most important Italian WEEE recovery and treatment companies. In recent years the Association has committed itself above all to the creation of tools such as the A program Agreement between WEEE plants  such as ours and the Consortia that collect this waste. In addition, the companies that are part of it are assisted in the implementation of their production processes to the standards prescribed by the European Union with the aim of reducing environmental impacts and raising the quality in the management of WEEE.


What benefits have you obtained with Panizzolo machines?

For many years we have been using the OPH Opener, the Flex 500 mobile mill and all the separation accessories, to perform high-performance grinding and refining of WEEE waste and obtain an output that distinguishes us in the market for its high quality. One of the characteristics that I immediately appreciated was the accuracy of the design. At the time, I carried out an in-depth analysis also from the point of view of those who would have worked on it in contact with the recycling machinery every day. In my opinion, the quality of a machine must also be extended to the ease of use and the reduction of downtime for the change of hammers, parts subject to wear and tear, ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.

From these points of view, I found a valid technological supplier in Panizzolo Recycling Systems. The machinery, the recycling plant and the flow logic have been designed to be functional for those who will have to work directly on them and not for those who simply have to see it to third parties. Benefits that I am still experiencing and that allow me to reconfirm Panizzolo also for future projects.

What do you think of the design of the Panizzolo hammer mills and the patented interchangeable cradle?

As I said earlier, I particularly appreciate the design of your hammer mills and I believe that the interchangeable cradle is an exceptional solution. The replacement times of the grids and hammers are very short, allowing us to have a particularly efficient system from the point of view of production and cost.


In recent months there have been major changes due to COVID-19. What future lies ahead for the sector?

The scrap metal sector, including WEEE waste which is no exception, is the litmus test of a country’s economic prosperity. It will depend a lot on the measures put in place by the Government and Regions to start up the Italian production sectors again. Obviously, in a modern globalized context, everything will also depend on the provisions of the European Union and, more generally, on the decisions of the United States and the Asian market.


What are your plans for the near future?

Earlier this year, before the lockdown, we started a feasibility study to implement a new production line in West Recycling. In this way I want to enhance the residues from my WEEE and scrap treatment plants, completing the enhancement cycle and obtaining secondary raw material.

Given the excellent relationship with the Panizzolo Recycling Systems machinery, I performed a test with your refining plant and obtained excellent results in terms of purity of outputs and ease of use. The future will be more and more in End-of-Waste treatment and we intend to take this path as soon as possible using the Panizzolo refining solution.