Wednesday, January 20, 1993

Del Monte’s Plant in Rochelle, Illinois Implements a Reuse and Recycle Program

Del Monte’s container manufacturing plant in Rochelle, Illinois is simply known as Plant No. 115. It’s recycling program, however, is not as simple as its name. A mixture of multimaterial reuse and recycling extends outward to include both its employees and residents of the surrounding community.

“It was a natural step for us to take,” said Dennis Ruehlman, a production supervisor for the plant. “Although the town of Rochelle has its own recycling program, many of our employees live in rural areas not covered by any sort of recycling program. We wanted to extend the opportunity to recycle to those people”.

Beyond recycling damaged steel cans and steel can scrap at the plant, Del Monte provides employees with recycling containers for both home and office use. By allowing recycling bins to be taken home, employees are able to store and bring steel cans and other materials to the plant for recycling. Containers for recyclables are also located at employees’ desks and work stations.

The plant accepts steel food and beverage cans, aluminum cans, cardboard, newspaper, white paper and magazines. Del Monte’s facility has opened its doors to four local elementary schools and junior high. Periodically, the schools bring bins of white paper and magazines saved by the students, faculty and staff to drop-off locations just inside the plant.

Empty steel cans and steel tinplate scrap are collected into large containers throughout the plant. Each container is emptied by a plant forklift operator. The steel cans and steel tinplate scrap are taken to AMG Resource Corporation, a detinner located in Gary, Indiana, where the cans are processed and baled. The steel can scrap is then shipped to local end markets.

In addition to recycling, the Del Monte plant also reuses slightly flawed steel cans for non-food special use. An arrangement was made between Del Monte and a nearby workshop for the developmentally disabled in Oregon, Illinois.

A number of 15-ounce cans with minor defects or flaws are set aside at the plant instead of being recycled. These cans are taken to the workshop, called the Village of Progress. There, Village employees work to turn the cans into piggy banks.

“The banks are really nice, “ said Ruehlman. “We had a large number of them produced for us with some of our antique labels dating back to 1909. We use the banks as promotional items during events such as local celebrations and the state fair.”

Monday, January 11, 1993

Bath Iron Works Collects Empty Steel Paint Cans for Recycling

Like many of its predecessors, the Bath Iron Works continues Maine’s tradition of shipbuilding. Located along the banks of the Kennebec River, the half-mile long shipyard constructs primarily large naval vessels.

In January 1992, however, the Bath Iron Works began a tradition of its own: the recycling of empty steel paint and aerosol cans.

Steel paint and aerosol can scrap is generated by the shipyard because the vessels are painted during construction. A system to ensure the removal of empty, dry paint and aerosol cans from the shipyard’s solid waste stream was implemented.

Five paint dispensing centers distribute paint in cardboard holders to employees. Paint is poured into the cardboard holders, and any paint left over from construction is emptied into 55-gallon drums. Emptied paint cans are then placed into small bins and allowed to air dry. Distributed aerosol paint cans once completely empty are collected in small bins and are then returned to the dispensing center.

Daily, these bins are loaded onto a pallet and taken by forklift to the shipyard’s centrally-located processing center. The center contains a can crusher and a pair of drum compactors to store the cans for recycling. The paint cans are crushed and placed into a large roll-off. Similarly, aerosol cans are run through specialty equipment to de-pressurize and compact them into large 55-gallon drums. The drums, along with any damaged drums, and steel welding wire cans are also placed inside the roll-off.

“We process steel cans at our facility because we really don’t want to see these containers get landfilled,” said Harold Arndt, waste management administrator for the shipyard. “Besides, steel cans are fully recyclable materials and the program pays for itself.”

An empty roll-off is swapped for the full roll-off bimonthly and transported by truck to an intermediate processing facility. There, steel cans are magnetically removed from the roll-off and placed into a compactor to be baled. The baled cans are magnetically moved for shipment to domestic ad foreign end markets.