This Web Exclusive article comes from Sweed Machinery, Inc., a maker of scrap management equipment based in Gold Hill, OR.
Zero landfill is the latest catchphrase among businesses today; but many companies are forgetting about two important recyclable materials in their efforts to go green — polyester (PET) strapping and steel banding.
It’s true that the demand for steel banding is declining, but there are still numerous applications in many industries where it is necessary to use. Steel strapping is the most stout of all banding materials. It is commonly used in shipping or for storing extreme weight loads that require a high break strength, or when the product is extremely sharp or hot.
However, when debanded, steel strapping is very hazardous to workers (especially when left laying around), and because it doesn’t compact, it requires a lot of space to store and dispose of. For this reason, many companies who were previously using smaller sized steel banding began using PET strapping as a cost-effective substitute.
Strapping made from PET plastic has been proven as a strong, dependable alternative for steel strapping up to ¾” wide. As a result, this PET strapping is showing up in shipping and receiving docks at facilities all over the world. Unfortunately, because the strapping is an unruly, tangled mess in its original state (after a load has been debanded), scrap dealers don’t want to handle it, and companies are left not knowing how to dispose of it; ultimately, the strapping ends up in landfills.
Years ago, chopping both PET and steel scrap banding was thought of as optional; but with the growth of the recycling industry and its demands for a higher grade of pre-processed scrap, it’s becoming a necessity. Most agree that a load of unchopped banding is a waste of dumpster space, and most recyclers consider hauling it a waste of fuel and labor. However, when banding is processed through a scrap chopper, it is prepared for recycling — eliminating unnecessary dumpster costs and enabling an organization to sell their scrap to dealers.
Scrap choppers are fairly straightforward to operate. The user introduces the material (banding) into the infeed funnel. The feedworks grab the material and pull it into the unit to be processed. The strap is cut into small manageable pieces (anywhere from a ¼” chip size to a 3” long cut piece), turning it from trash into cash.
Facilities Using Scrap Choppers
One company taking advantage of scrap choppers is North American Galvanizing Co. based in Tulsa, OK, a provider of corrosion protection for fabricated steel products. Using scrap choppers helped the company’s facility in Nashville, TN achieve quick payback and add to the bottom line.
Mitch Massey, plant manager of the Nashville facility expected ROI in one year after incorporating a pair a scrap choppers — one on the dock and one in production. However, the return was quicker than he had anticipated. “With the choppers handling scrap at the point of production, we will add about $50,000 to the bottom line each year in labor savings and the added value of the scrap,” says Massey.
“The inefficient scrap handling was costing us too much in time, labor and resources,” reports Massey. “We also wanted to get the scrap off the floor where it posed a safety hazard to staff.” Besides posing a tripping hazard, the loose straps and wire could also get tangled in the wheels or driveshafts of moving equipment.
Introducing scrap choppers solved these problems. According to Massey, it was just as easy to feed scrap into an automatic feed chopper as it was to toss it on the floor or against a wall. “When the automatic feed starts, the operator can walk away, and the chopped scrap drops into a drum,” he says. Massey also notes that by handling the scrap with the choppers, his staff has reclaimed several hundred feet of space in production and the receiving yard.
Revenue is increasing as well. Before, the plant was earning about three to five cents a pound for the scrap steel it sold to scrap dealers. Now, since the scrap is so easy to handle, process and recycle, the plant recently received 19 cents a pound for chopped wire and 27 cents a pound for chopped steel straps. “Instead of getting a couple of hundred dollars a month selling general steel scrap, we recently received $9,000 selling chopped steel scrap,” states Massey. “This is found money that we had never capitalized on before. It is now going straight to our bottom line.”
A final benefit relates to safety regulations. “Not only have the scrap choppers helped us aesthetically, but also with OSHA concerns by eliminating potential trip hazards,” adds Massey. “The cleaner plant is also a plus with employees and visiting clients.”
Achieve Zero Landfill Goals
Disposing of manufacturing scrap waste costs small and large organizations thousands of dollars each year. Reducing this waste through recycling not only saves money, but also improves a company’s efforts to “go green.” Streamlining waste may seem like a challenge at first, but it can be easy when with the right tools implemented into a facility.