Sunday, December 28, 1997

Steel Gets Life In New York Correctional System

Proper solid waste management is just one of the many intricacies involved in the effective management of a correctional facility, but the impact can carry a lot of weight-literally. Correctional facilities hold hundreds, sometimes thousands, of inmates. In the feeding, training and the day-to-day activities of each of these inmates, tons of solid waste are produced. As the New York State Department of Corrections has discovered, much of this waste is recyclable.

Solid waste programs are present in each of the 70 correctional facilities under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Corrections, and nearly every one of them now recycles. He state correctional facilities are charged with holding the state’s more than 71,000 inmates, in facilities from work camps on up to maximum security facilities.

Just as in many other states, the correctional system is directly impacted by state recycling regulations, such as the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988. This act made it mandatory for all state-regulated facilities to incorporate a recycling program into their solid waste programs. Then, in 1989, the importance of this Act was reinforced by the Governor with Executive Order 142, maintaining that all state agencies should begin recycling.

The initial recycling program included steel and aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard, plastic and polystyrene containers, as well as mixed office paper, textiles, mattresses and food wastes. It was initially a big jump into a recycling
program but many of these recyclables were being generated in the food service facilities and dining halls. As a result, they centered a large portion of the program on this area.

Each day, more than 200,000 meals are prepared within the New York State Correctional system and with each of these meals, recyclables are produced. Steel cans and corrugated cardboard are the top two recyclables generated by weight within this area. Many of the ingredients in these meals come stored in one-gallon steel food cans.

Steel cans are a natural choice to include in correctional system recycling programs as they use thousands each day and there is a stable market that has been in place for years to recycle them.

In a majority of the state correctional facilities, the steel cans are emptied and then rinsed in dishwater or cleaned in extra space in the dishwasher. The cans are then loaded into clear plastic bags, which are collected and stored.

There is also a food production unit within the system, which prepares the food for 30 prisons. Within this facility, the rinsing and crushing of the steel cans is automated, and the crushed cans from this unit are also stored for pick-up.

Once a week the stored cans from the system are collected and transported to one of eight regional processing facilities. At the processing facilities, the cans are baled and prepared to be sent on to steel mills to become new products.

Last year, the New York State Correctional System recycled more than 2,100 tons of steel cans. This is in addition to the 510 tons of steel recycled from machinery changes, refurbishments and scrap from vocational programs.

Steel is everywhere in correctional facilities from washing machines to steel appliances to steel cans. The buildings themselves are even built from steel.

Friday, December 19, 1997

Small Town’s Restaurants Recycle In A Big Way

Behind each of the five main restaurants in Sonora, Texas rests a bright yellow dumpster. These dumpsters play an integral part in the town’s commercial/institutional recycling program, which was set into motion in early 1994.

The town provided the restaurants with the dumpsters in which to source separate and store one-gallon steel cans.

One-gallon steel cans play an important role in food service recycling programs. Because more than 90 percent of metal food containers are made from steel, anywhere food is prepared, steel cans are used and should be recycled when empty.

Restaurant staff employees rinse one-gallon steel food cans clean with leftover dishwater. The cans are then loaded into the yellow dumpster, where they are collected once a week by truck and taken to the town’s storage center. There, the steel cans are combined with recyclables collected from the town’s drop-off recycling program.

The town’s drop-off recycling program was established in 1990. Residents source separate steel and aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, used oil and steel oil filters, and tires into separate dumpsters. The collection site is maintained daily by town personnel.

Steel cans are delivered to a ferrous scrap yard in San Angelo. About seven tons of steel cans were recycled last year.

“The philosophy behind our recycling programs is that at least we’re keeping these recyclables out of landfills,” said Jim Garrett, recycling coordinator for Sonora.

“Way out here in west Texas the marketing of the materials is not that great. But our main purpose is to do our part to conserve landfill space and help the environment.”

Sunday, December 7, 1997

Area Hospitals Lead The Way For Commercial/Institutional Recycling

More and more, hospitals are learning that a recycling program is an environmentally efficient means of reducing solid waste costs and meeting local recycling goals. The large volumes of recyclables generated within these facilities
provide a distinct economic advantage for beginning a recycling program over smaller facilities with lower volumes.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital: Philadelphia, PA

At Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, steel and aluminum cans, glass containers and cardboard have been collected for recycling since 1990. One of the first hospitals nationwide to collect steel cans for recycling, Jefferson has recycled more than 30,000 pounds of steel cans in the past three years, saving landfill space, energy and natural resources.

“Steel cans were naturally included in the recycling program. They are found in abundance in institutions,” said Ed Barr, manager for support services for the hospital. “The majority of these cans are the one-gallon size cans used in the kitchen area. They are easy to prepare for recycling as well as transport to the recycling area.”

At the hospital, kitchen staff segregate the steel cans from the regular trash. After any food debris is rinsed out, the empty cans are collected in a bin and taken to the hospital’s recycling area. There, the cans are crushed, placed onto a utility cart, and transported to the truck that makes daily runs to the recycling center.

For institutions interested in recycling steel cans, Barr recommends first locating and processor interested in accepting steel cans. To ensure kitchen staff support, involve them in the recycling program and let them know the importance of recycling empty steel cans. One person should be appointed to be in charge of the recycling effort to get the program started and maintain momentum.

Finally, Barr recommends that the steel cans be marketed as part of a total recycling program: steel cans should be collected from the kitchen, aluminum and glass from the cafeteria, and paper from the offices.

All recyclables at the hospital are delivered to a Philadelphia transfer station. There, they are baled and shipped to end market for recycling.

Tuesday, December 2, 1997

Walt Disney World Hilton: Takes A Simple Approach To Steel Recycling

At the Walt Disney World Hilton, Chief Engineer John Steele has structured a recycling program in which simplicity is the primary focus. The program includes a variety of recyclables: steel food cans, aluminum beverage cans, glass and plastic containers, newspaper, office paper, cardboard, soap, grease and other items such as carpeting.

A lot of research went into the program before it was implemented in the summer of 1990. Steele asked all hotel employees what recyclable materials they used in greatest quantities. Collection bins for the appropriate materials were then placed in the closest location possible.

In the kitchen, one-gallon steel cans are routinely recycled. The steps that the hotel follows are the same as those recommended by SRI: (1) the can is rinsed, using no extra water, (2) the lid and bottom of the can are removed, and (3) the can is crushed and placed into the storage bin along with the lids.

Steele determined that 70 percent of guests would participate in a hotel recycling program. Since he does not believe that any of the employees should have to “go through garbage,” a place card in each room asks guests to leave their recyclables on the desk or table in the room. The housekeeping staff collects the materials using a bag that hangs on the cleaning carts.

“Our guests have made very positive comments about our recycling program,” said Nadine DeGenova Kopf, director of public relations. “For example, members of a major company met in-house, and we provide them with a number of bins for their recyclable materials. They were surprised at how comprehensive our recycling program is.”

The savings have been tremendous. The year before the program was established, the hotel paid $30,000 for trash removal; the following year it paid $8,200. Since the recyclables are source separated, employees process them according to end market specifications. In the case of steel cans, they are baled.

Monday, October 20, 1997

The New Steel. Feel The Strength: Newly Formed Coalition, TheSteelAlliance, Launches Awareness Campaign

The morning glow of a summer sun sizzles on the Indiana horizon, growing in intensity until the sun itself boils forth from the ground and rises, spreading it’s rays over the state. It’s already hot, however, at a steel mill, where it’s twin pair of basic oxygen furnaces have been raging with the sun’s same intensity all night. The enormous two-story, pot-bellied vessels alternately tip sideways and straighten, fed by chunks of solid steel scrap washed down with deep swigs of molten iron. Every 45 minutes, each furnace produces as much as 300 tons of molten steel.

Although not immediately discernible, the river of steel pouring forth from these furnaces is far different from those that built this nation at the turn of the century. It is far different than the steel we relied upon in the Second World War. It is even different that the steel produced a decade ago. Modern steel mills like this one all across North America are hard at work producing what the industry has called “the new steel.”

Although steel has been made for more than 150 years, it has been quietly and continuously evolving. Today’s steels are new. Consider that half of all the types of steel produced today did not exist just ten short years ago. This new steel
is the result of a $50 billion investment made by the North American steel industry in advanced technologies that make the world’s strongest, most innovative material even stronger and more innovative - and all at a lower cost to the consumer.

A New Steel Industry

Mark Stephenson is a busy man these days. He’s the executive director of TheSteelAlliance, an industry group which kicked off a campaign in May 1997 to highlight the benefits of the new steel to the public. While he’s more than prepared to discuss steel’s attributes, he’s equally excited about the transformations taking place in the industry. He quickly reviews the more than 90 North American steel producers, suppliers and affiliated organizations that joined
together to form the Steel Alliance.

“We’re talking more than just ‘the new steel’ here. He steel industry has reinvented itself, meeting its own challenges by creating stronger, thinner, easier to shape and corrosion resistant steels that help make lighter, safer, longer lasting products,” said Stephenson. “By harnessing new technology and upgrading the steelmaking process from start to finish, the steel industry has transformed itself into the ‘new steel industry.’”

The steel industry has emerged from the past two decades a leaner and more efficient industry than ever before. Thanks to advances in technology, no other country produces more steel per man-hour than the United States. In addition, the United States is the planet’s lowest cost steel producer. The North American steel industry has also collectively cut emissions, increased the recycling of post-consumer steel products from the solid waste stream and reduced the amount of energy needed to make steel.

All these positive attributes of steel have something in common: the public, for the most part, is largely unaware of them. David Hoag, the chairman of TheSteelAlliance and chairman and CEO of LTV Steel Corporation, agrees.

“The steel industry in North America is alive and well, but few outside our industry know that,” said Hoag. “There are many misconceptions about the industry and about steel, and we are determined to change those perceptions.”

Arming consumers with the facts about steel has begun through a five-year, high profile awareness campaign entitled “The New Steel. Feel the Strength.” The campaign reaches out to the millions of people who buy automobiles, appliances, houses, canned food or any of the many products made of with steel to help them recognize steel’s attributes. And with an audience of millions, the campaign is sure to keep Stephenson busy in the years ahead.

On the Front Lines.

The infrastructure of the computerized age has crept into all areas of our lives, and the steel industry is no exception. From behind the glass of climate-controlled “pulpits” that overlook the steelmaking line, engineers monitor computer screens that flicker with data about the hot slabs of new steel rolling past. Computers working in concert with the latest technology in responsive steelmaking machinery ensure that steel is made to precise dimensions and worldclass quality.

Steel’s biggest strength has long been its flexibility-meaning its ability to adapt to change and meet increasingly stricter performance demands. Metallurgists and engineers in the North American steel industry work with these new technologies to produce ever stronger, lighter, thinner steels. For example, the Sears Tower, the world’s tallest building when it was constructed in 1974, could be built with 35 percent less steel today.

Cleaner Air, Water

Make the steel manufacturing process cleaner: an initiative that the steel industry has backed with a multi=-billion dollar investment.

Over the past decade, the industry has invested approximately $10 billion to reduce steelmaking’s impact on the environment, especially in regards to air and water emissions. Advanced air pollution control devices have been installed in steel mills that capture dust particles and gases.

Today, the industry has collectively reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 28 percent and waste water emissions by 91 percent compared to ten years ago. Annual energy consumption has been cut by more than 30 percent in the same time period.

UltraLight Steel Auto Bodies

The North American steel industry has worked in partnership with automobile manufacturers to engineer and manufacture automotive components that are much lighter and stronger than was thought possible less than a decade ago. This partnership has led to new vehicle designs and construction techniques that have meant a 20 percent decrease in vehicle weight since 1978.

And through the continued cooperation between steel producers and automotive manufacturers, the future is bright with promise for higher quality, more environmentally-friendly vehicles. Steel producers from around the world are working
on a project called the UltraLight Steel AutoBody, which combines cutting edge automotive design with the newest state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques to enable the world’s automakers to produce a new family of safe, light-weight, low cost, fuel-efficient car bodies.

Steel Framing

Steel built our skyscrapers and bridges. And now, environmental and economic concerns motivate the building industry to examine alternative materials and methods in residential construction. An exciting new market has been found in steel homes.

The new steel resists decay, corrosion, fire and floods more than any other material, which is why it is now being used more in residential construction.

The New Steel. Feel the Strength.

Nearly 150 years ago, steel sparked the industrial revolution. Today, it’s still revolutionizing the way we live and shaping our future.

Wednesday, February 19, 1997

Wash Cycle, Rinse Cycle, Spin Cycle - Recycle!

We’re nation dependent upon appliances. Our water heaters, ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and other white goods quietly fulfill essential roles in our daily lives. In the United States, 98 percent of homes have a refrigerator. An estimated 98 percent have a range. Appliances are designed to save energy and labor, giving us time to do other things.

Normally, these faithful servants will chill, cook, or clean for us for fifteen or more years. But at some point in their lives, appliances must be replaced.

An estimated 54 million appliances are disposed of each year in the United States. All major appliances are made predominantly of steel. The majority of this steel is found in the metal shell or body that encases an appliance’s electrical components. While steel is used in appliances for its strength, economy and durability, it also makes appliances recyclable.

Steel’s Recyclability

Steel is the heavy-weight champion of the recycling world. More steel is recycled in all of North America than any other material. In 1995, about 70 million tons of steel scrap were recycled, including scrap from post consumer steel products such as appliances.

The reason why so much steel is recycled is that steel mills need steel scrap to make new steel. The two types of steelmaking processes used in the United States to make new steel, the basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and the electric arc furnace (EAF), use steel scrap to make new steel. The BOF consumes about 28 percent steel scrap to produce new steel. The EAF melts virtually 100 percent steel scrap to make new steel. More than 68 percent of the 103 million tons of new steel that poured from steelmaking furnaces in 1995 was obtained from melted scrap.

By weight, the average appliance consists of about 75 percent steel, which makes it an excellent feedstock of steel scrap for recycling into new steel.

Between 1990 and 1995, the national recycling rate for home appliances rose from 32 percent to 74.8 percent. More than 2.1 million tons of steel recovered from appliances were recycled in 1995.

Collecting Appliances

How can you recycle an appliance like your refrigerator or clothes washing machine? Actually, there are a variety of ways in which your old appliances can enter the recycling infrastructure. Call your local recycling or solid waste management office to determine if you live in one of the many communities that offers municipal pick-up of appliances. Most communities also allow residents to take their appliances to designated drop-off sites.

If your community doesn’t offer appliance recycling, there are still options. If you’re purchasing a new appliance, many retail establishments will accept your old one when they deliver the new one. To help residents reduce their monthly electric bills and total load on the power plant, utility companies occasionally work with communities to sponsor appliance “take back” programs for working appliances that are actually unneeded, such as the extra refrigerator in the garage or basement. And although they normally deal with bulk quantities, ferrous scrap yards will probably accept your appliance for recycling.

Of course, there’s another easy way to determine where you can recycle your appliance. Call the SRI’s toll-free consumer information line, 1-800-YES-1-CAN (937-1226). By calling the number, consumers can locate the closest option, by zip code, that accepts appliances for recycling or order information about appliance recycling.

Recycling Appliances

What happens to your old appliance once it is collected for recycling?

First, appliance processors normally remove components, such as electric motors, capacitors, switches and other mechanical parts, from the appliance. If the appliance is a refrigerator, freezer or some other type of appliance with cooling equipment, then its refrigerant gases must be captured and recycled. See the sidebar on the next page for more information about special processing considerations.

At a ferrous scrap processing yard, the appliance shell is then typically hoisted onto a conveyor belt, which feeds it to a massive automobile shredder. Its whirling hammers crush and shred the appliance into fist-sized chunks which exit the shredder onto a conveyor belt. The steel pieces are then magnetically separated from the other metals and plastics and shipped to steel mills for recycling into new steel. Nonferrous metals, such as copper and aluminum, are usually removed and recycled as well.

As about 75 percent of the average appliance is made from steel, the remaining material, such as plastic and rubber, is usually accumulated for disposal at a landfill.

Recycled Appliances

Appliances are not just recyclable, they’re also made from recycled steel. The steel used to make new appliances is made from about 28 percent recycled steel.

Environmental Benefits of Steel Recycling

Appliance recycling conserves energy, landfill space and natural resources. By recycling the extra refrigerator in the basement, residents save on their electric bill. Recycling bulky appliances leaves room for other solid waste to be landfilled. Of course, the steel industry benefits from recycling steel appliances as well. The 2.1 million tons of steel recovered from recycled appliances conserved more than 2 million tons of iron ore, nearly 1.5 million tons of coal, and 126,000 tons of limestone.

Processing Considerations

Some appliances have special processing considerations before a ferrous scrap processor can accept the appliance for recycling. Refrigerators, freezers and other appliances designed to cool contain refrigerant gasses like CFCs or HCFCs. By law, these refrigerant gases must be recovered before an appliance can be recycled. Some communities, therefore, charge residents a fee, usually between $10 and $20, to accept these types of appliances to cover the labor and equipment for these additional processing costs. Not all communities do so: on page 9, we profile how Pima County, AZ negotiated a contract with a local ferrous scrap processor to reduce these costs for their residents.

Refrigerant Gases

Legislation enacted more than 20 years ago has significantly altered the way appliances are processed for recycling today. Originally passed in 1970, the Clean Air Act was America’s first comprehensive legislation to cover emission of pollutants to the air. The act was later updated to reflect the goals of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This international agreement was signed by more than 100 nations and requires each country to cut its production of ozone depleting substances in half by 1998. Later, the Protocol was amended to include the complete phase-out of the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the year 1995.

As a result, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that, prior to recycling or disposal, any refrigerant gases that are deemed as ozone depleting and found in appliances must be captured for recycling. CFCs and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), both considered ozone depleting coolants, are only found in appliances that refrigerate or cool.

The CFCs and HCFCs that are reclaimed are cleaned and reused in the maintenance and repair of other units. In some areas, scrap dealers have the CFC removal equipment and certified technicians to easily accomplish these procedures. In other areas, specialty recycling companies provide this service, either independently or in association with appliance dealers or the local government.

In either case, processors who are involved in the recycling of appliances are responsible for ensuring that the refrigerant gases have been reclaimed.

PCB Capacitors

Appliances often contain capacitors, which are electronic circuit devices for temporary storage of electrical energy. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a carcinogen, are oily fluids used as electrolytic substances in a small percentage of capacitors produced prior to the year 1979. PCBs were used in some capacitors for air conditioners and microwave ovens and, much less often, for refrigerators and freezers.

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1968 banned the production and sale of PCBs after 1978, but allowed small capacitors used in household appliances to remain in service. Since the average life span of an appliance is 15 years, less than five percent of all appliances processed for recycling in 1988 contained PCB capacitors, according to the EPA. That small percentage is in all likelihood much smaller or virtually nonexistent today as many of these appliances have been recycled or disposed of.

Thursday, January 9, 1997

Steel Can Recycling Success Spans the Globe

The clank of steel cans being sorted is a sound commonly heard in material recovery facilities across the United States. The billions of cans of soup, tuna fish, vegetables, juice, pet food and other products found on kitchen shelves are a
staple in America’s recycling diet. About 93 percent of all curbside programs and 82 percent of all drop-off programs in the United States accept them for recycling.

As a result, in just eight years, the steel can recycling rate has rocketed from an estimated 15 percent in 1988 to nearly 56 percent in 1995. Among the reasons: steel cans quickly adapted to the recycling infrastructure for all steel products. Ferrous scrap processors were well-prepared to handle and process steel can scrap to end market specifications, and steel mills increasingly ate them up s low-cost, high-quality alternative scrap resource. Steel can scrap use has increased nearly every year since 1988,k and end market use in the United States mushroomed from five mills to more than 80 in the same time frame.

But as much success as the United States has experienced with steel can recycling, it is far from alone in the steel can recycling effort. In fact, the United States isn’t even the global leader of the pack.

In 1995, an estimated 73.8 percent of all steel cans were recycled in Japan, according to the Japan Used Can Treatment Association. More than one million tons of steel cans ere consumed in its fiery steel mill furnaces.

In the Netherlands, approximately 65 percent of all steel cans were recycled in 1995. The aim of the Dutch packaging chain is to achieve an 80 percent or higher recycling rate by 2001. According to industry officials, steel cans are on target to hit an 86 percent recycling rate by that time.

Of all the steel cans marketed in France in 1995, approximately 40 percent were collected and recycled. This was the result of close cooperation of all the players in the steel packaging industry. Steel cans are collected throughout the country by curbside collection and through magnetic separation at resource recovery facilities.

In South Africa, a can recovery company called Collect-A-Can was formed to recover steel cans for recycling. Collect-A-Can’s 11 depots and 16,000 collectors accept all types of steel cans, including food, beverage, paint and aerosol cans.

An estimated 44 percent were recycled in South Africa in 1995.In province of Ontario, Canada, about 74 percent of all steel cans were recycled in 1995. Enough steel cans have been recycled in Canada since 1985 to fill the interior of Toronto’s Sky dome, home to the Toronto Bluejays of Major League Baseball.

Steel can recycling has spread to all corners of the globe. Australia, Belgium, Germany, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom also all posted recycling rates between 11 and 67 percent in 1995.

The recycling efforts of all of these countries is strong testimony to the recyclability of steel cans and the acceptance of steel cans as a viable form of scrap by the steel industry. Steel cans are made from high quality steel. As scrap
supplies tighten, melters have discovered that steel cans help alleviate this demand.

Steel food, beverage, paint and aerosol cans have proven to be a quality form of scrap for the making of new steel. Their remarkable growth and acceptance in the worldwide scrap market should be considered one of the steel industry’s greatest success stories.