appliances metal recycling
Increased metals recovery from appliances is among Schnitzer Steel Industries’ sustainability goals.

Schnitzer invests in metals sorting

Company’s sustainability report says upgrades are taking place at “key facilities.”

December 18, 2020

Portland, Oregon-based Schnitzer Steel Industries has released the 2020 edition of its corporate sustainability report, which includes a reference to planned upgrades to its shredded metals sorting capabilities.

The 76-page document, posted to the firm’s website, also provides details on the recycling and landfill diversion aspects of its 50-location Pick-n-Pull auto salvage business unit. According to Schnitzer, in its 2020 fiscal year, the Pick-n-Pull operations collected for recycling more than 4,000 tons of tires and nearly 5,000 tons of lead-acid batteries. On its website, Schnitzer says Pick-n-Pull handles some 350,000 end-of-life vehicles each year.

In its metals recycling business, Schnitzer points to recent investments that include two cable processing systems installed on the East and West coasts of the U.S. The prepared copper chops, the firm says, can be sold internationally and domestically.

Regarding shredded metals sorting, Schnitzer writes, “We are taking action to upgrade our metal recovery technology at key facilities in the U.S. These systems will make use of advanced processes that will allow us to separate shredded metals into various streams of nonferrous shredded metals. We anticipate these projects will be fully operational in spring 2021.”

The projects, the company adds, will provide “optionality, extract a greater volume of nonferrous metal to sell, and reduce the material that we send to landfills. By the time our new nonferrous processing systems and heavy media plants are complete, we expect that we will be able to recover 20 percent more nonferrous material than before.”

Although shredding plants often are referred to as auto shredders, the Schnitzer sustainability report points to the end-of-life appliance stream as a key component in its plans. “Each year, approximately 2.1 million tons of end-of-life appliances end up in landfills in the U.S., so extracting more metal will not only provide us with enhanced revenue but significantly reduce negative environmental impacts,” according to the company.

Regarding its new separation technology, Schnitzer writes, “The upgraded equipment itself is also more efficient, requiring shorter run times, which means greater safety for operators, more time for routine maintenance, and reduced electricity use and associated emissions. And, because the higher quality products we will be producing can be sold directly to smelters, we will eliminate a processing and transportation step.”

The complete Schnitzer 2020 sustainability report can be viewed on this web page.