It started out small ...

Bühlmann Recycling AG in Münchenwiler near Bern, Switzerland, can look back on some dramatic changes. It has grown from a family farm into a major regional disposal firm in just over 30 years.

September 19, 2018

Branching out
Today Bühlmann Recycling AG collects and processes waste of all kinds. With Hansueli Bühlmann, “processing” means sorting waste in such a way that the end product is of high enough quality to go directly to other industries for use as raw materials. “If you process waste deeply enough, it gets more valuable. But you have to try out new ways of doing things, and test machines for different applications,” he says. These days Bühlmann Recycling AG has six locations, in Münchenwiler, Cressier, Lyss, Heimberg, Spiez and Interlaken.

Hard at work around the clock
“If you work 16 hours a day, six days a week, you’ll get more done than if you just work eight-hour days. And if you put your heart into something, success will come automatically. My father and I built our first halls together, with no help,” reminisces Bühlmann. Now 170 employees work at one of Switzerland’s largest scrap and precious metal reclamation companies, managed by Bühlmann together with brother-in-law and co-owner Martin Ritschard.

„I want to do value-creation in depth.“ - Hansueli Bühlmann

 

A value-creation philosophy
Bühlmann’s philosophy is clear: “I want to do value-creation in depth, to create jobs for our Region and to use materials from this area so I can keep shipping costs low.” He also wants to sell as much of his output as he can in Switzerland, a smaller amount in the rest of Europe and only the remainder overseas.

The key: Machinery
Before a new purchase Bühlmann analyses the market carefully. In 2002 GETAG´s then-director and Komptech sales partner Peter Grepper drove with him to reference plants and demonstrated the Terminator. “I wasn’t sure about it, but then the waste streams we got started to change, while the Terminator get better and better,” recalls Bühlmann. 2003 he finally decided to get his first Terminator.

A Terminator for all reasons
Over the years he’s bought seven Terminators in all. “Right now we use our two Terminators for pre-shredding plastics, rubber, electric cables, bulky waste and railroad ties, before the material goes on to sorting and further shredding or direct to shredding,” explains Bühlmann. “The advantage of the Terminator is that it can tear as well as cut, depending on how you set the gap at the teeth. That makes it a multi-use machine. Depending on the material, different types of Terminators can be used for coarse, fine or extra fine shredding. Also, the mobile version lets us take it where we need it,” he says of another Terminator benefit.

The waste wood challenge
Nowadays the company also processes waste wood. “Today we make wood chippings of high enough quality that they can be used for chipboard or by cement works,” says Bühlmann. But it takes the right machinery. “We use two Crambo direct universal shredders. With them we can reduce the wood to the desired size without making a lot of fines or dust,” he says with satisfaction.