Industries generating scrap waste-including the rubber sector-need to look at viable solutions for disposing of it, given the rising costs of transportation and tipping fees.
Companies manufacturing or working with elastomers leave remnants of material in the wake of cutting, forming and trimming operations, said Tim Leighty of Recycling Technologies International L.L.C. There are several ways to get rid of this waste-including landfilling, selling scrap or recycling-but recycling may be the best option for generators seeking to maximize raw material utilization and control costs, Leighty said.
Leighty talked about the ups and downs of recycling during a presentation at the Gasket Fabricators Association Gasketing/Converting Expo '06, held March 29-31 in Orlando, Fla.
In addition to reducing costs and utilizing the usefulness of materials, companies should look into recycling because they'll be complying with environmental regulations and helping to reduce the burden on our natural resources, Leighty said.
In-house recycling efforts can provide the ideal solution. Around 80 percent of scrap can be re-generated into a virgin formula or another material, he said. The process, of course, requires capital investment and floor space to operate.
Outsourced recycling also can be effective, especially for generators of smaller quantities of co-mingled or various types of materials, Leighty said. This may satisfy most environmental/legal responsibilities, but it rarely if ever is a source of revenue generation or cost reclaim, he said.
John Bonforte Jr. of closed-cell foam manufacturer Monmouth Rubber & Plastics Corp. in Long Branch, N.J., said his company decided to recycle its scrap to help solve dumping problems many firms face.
It takes a firm commitment from a company's upper management to undergo a recycling process, he said.
There are barriers and obstacles companies face when they commit to recycle, Leighty said. Multiple-component scrap is typically the most difficult type to recycle, and the process is capital-intensive, he said.
Small quantities of unique types of scrap are not desirable to most recyclers, Leighty said. Also, in the case of a co-op agreement, the proprietary nature of various businesses' products-the rubber industry is no stranger to this-can affect the potential to develop an optimum recycling program within a given industry, he said.
Scrap generators often have certain expectations of revenue when moving the waste to a recycler.
That value, if any, is determined by the market price of the post-recycled product, Leighty said.
For example, in the rubber and plastics sector, recycled materials often sell at price points 75-90 percent lower than the virgin products from which they are derived, he said.
At Monmouth, the company has taken steps to sort, label and bale its recyclables, then decide the best way to use it, Bonforte said. That's where the individual firm's creativity comes in, to develop different and unique ways to use the scrap, he said.
If you decide to sell it, you must target who can use it, he said. And building and keeping good relationships with customers is always key, especially because they may give you some ideas about what can be done with the scrap.
In developing recycling solutions, generators should try discussing and exploring potential recycling scenarios with manufacturers of individual raw material components, or make contact with material brokers to determine the viability of routing scrap streams to established outlets, Leighty said.
Also, identifying a regional supplier of tire-derived fuel to end-users gives the potential of converting existing waste streams from a liability to break-even. SBR tire rubber has a BTU value of 15,000 per pound, and when introduced to a high-sulfur material fuel mix, the heat of a TDF can drive off surplus sulfur emissions, Leighty said.
He believes typical gasketing materials would work well in a TDF-related application, he said.
In the long run, companies should explore the possibilities of a cooperative recycling initiative or in-house recycling and the development of potential co-mingled recycled material and how it can be used, Leighty said.