Reduce Costs by Recycling Manufacturing Waste

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May 12, 2017

It’s almost inevitable that a certain amount waste is generated in manufacturing processes. While this waste is often just dumped, savvy manufacturers realize there are real opportunities for reducing waste costs and improving manufacturing efficiencies by recycling their waste.

By doing this, it’s possible to:

  • Identify the volume of waste generated in each process
  • Identify ways of reprocessing or reselling waste
  • Reduce the volume of waste that has to be dumped in landfills

Identify and Sort

The first step is to identify and sort waste. Initially, sorting happens at the factory waste area, and a good method is to use dumpsters for the different categories of waste. Later, once plans have been developed to process waste, it’s more effective to collect it at source to avoid cross-contamination.

Manufacturing processes produce many different types of waste, but typically these include:

  • Metals: Steel is a core component of household goods. Steel scrap is produced as parts are blanked, cut and machined. Similarly, scrap is produced when aluminum, copper, brass and other metals are processed.
  • Plastics: Manufacturing processes include injection molding, extrusion and vacuum forming. With these processes, a certain amount of scrap is inevitable, especially during initial start-up and shutdown.
  • Packaging: Raw materials and components supplied by outside vendors are often packaged in cardboard or plastic.
  • Reject parts: Parts and components that don’t conform to specification.

Reprocessing Scrap

It’s often possible to reprocess scrap as long as precautions are taken to avoid contamination by other materials. This is why it’s important to place dumpsters in production areas so scrap can be collected immediately. Ways of reprocessing scrap depend on the type of material involved:

  • Plastics: Plastic offcuts and plastic components with defects are reground and used as filler in plastic manufacturing processes. It’s essential that plastic scrap intended for reprocessing be kept clean and free of dirt and hard materials.
  • Metal offcuts: It’s possible to use larger offcuts as blanks for other metal-forming processes.

Reselling Scrap

If it’s not practical to reprocess all your own scrap, it’s likely someone else can. You get more for your scrap if it’s clean and sorted; sorting scrap is laborious and expensive, so doing it at source is best. Potential ways of making money from scrap include:

  • Metals: Most metal scrap can be sold for melting in metal smelters and foundries. This is particularly the case with scrap iron, carbon steel, aluminum, copper and brass.
  • Plastics: Even if it’s not possible to reprocess plastic scrap in-house, there are many opportunities to sell plastic scrap to other plastic converters.
  • Paper and cardboard: Paper and pulp manufacturers are always looking for scrap paper to use as raw material in paper and cardboard manufacturing.

Putting It All Together

As manufacturers strive to improve efficiencies, most are acutely aware of the impact waste has on their bottom line. Recycling helps manufacturers in three ways:

  • It reduces the volume, and hence, the cost of waste sent to landfill sites.
  • Waste reprocessing lowers raw material costs and improves manufacturing efficiencies.
  • Recycled waste sold for further processing generates additional revenue.

Contact us at EnviroSolutions to discover how to improve your bottom line by identifying, sorting, reprocessing and selling waste. Our professionals have many years of experience in waste management and helping customers make money from waste.