Archive: Woman’s Day: Recycle Everyday Items

A recent Woman’s Day article listed eight different items that some people may be surprised to find are recyclable. One of those items listed were “Kitchen Appliances.”

They stated:

If it’s time to retire a nonworking appliance, call your city or county recycling coordinator to ask about bulk waste pickup, or check Recycle-Steel.org to find a nearby steel recycling center. “Even nonworking appliances have a second life,” says Gregory L. Crawford, executive director of the Steel Recycling Institute. “For example, we get about 123 pounds of scrap steel from a full-size refrigerator,” which can go toward making everything from guard rails to appliances.

The 123 pounds recovered from that full sized refrigerator adds up when you consider that 56 million appliances are recycled per year. I guess not everybody is surprised to hear about their recyclability!

One of the biggest reasons to recycle your appliances, apart from steel’s continuous lifecycle as a material, is the conservation of landfill space. It is estimated an additional 9 million appliances are disposed in landfills each year which presents a large opportunity to improve on the previously mentioned figure.

Nearly 12,000 locations accept appliances, according to the Steel Recycling Database, which cover over 134 million Americans. In addition to containers, automobiles and scrap they help make steel North America’s #1 most recycled material. So while some people are surprised that appliances can be recycled easily and frequently, we hope they will continue to surprise their friends by spreading the message.

Archive: Blacksburg, Virginia Middle School Recycling Deconstructed Steel

Not many things can last for over fifty years but the steel supported structure of Old Blacksburg Middle School in Montgomery County, Virginia has stood the test of time and now has been deconstructed to allow the steel to be recycled and continue their continuous life cycle.

Situated on Main Street in Blacksburg, the 20 acre site will have over 660,000 pounds (330 tons) of steel be salvaged. The 330 tons is about the same amount of steel it’d take to construct over 30 school buses which would be capable of transporting over 1750 kids every day to class.

The demolition company, Sayers Construction Co. will sell the material to New River Recycling which will help lower the costs of the demolition to the County.

“We just don’t believe in throwing something away and buying new,” explained Mike Sayer, owner of Sayers Construction. “We’ve always tried to do something with materials rather than just [throwing them away].”

The steel scrap taken from the buildings will be made into beams and rebar for other buildings thanks to its continuous life cycle. Other materials would have to be disposed of or used differently.

“Steel is a great material to [work with] and to recycle,” concluded Sayer. The deconstruction projection is scheduled to be finished at the end of September with the property being opened up for retail, business space and residential development.

Archive: LEED Buildings Using Steel

Everyday there are new buildings being constructed around the country. Many of these buildings are choosing the responsible path of focusing on LEED certification design. This decision not only improves the energy consumption and long time efficiency of the structure but still allows architects to create aesthetically stunning buildings that are instant landmarks in their area.

University of Maryland – School of Pharmacy

The $85 million, 128,951 square foot building was designed by RCG Architects, out of Baltimore. It is connected to the previous pharmacy building by a four-story glass atrium, which also allows natural light throughout the building. The recycled structural steel in the building provides a strong framing to the entire structure which was a key factor in it’s receiving LEED Gold certification.

University of Pennsylvania – Horticulture Center

Opened in October 2011, the $13 million, 20,840 square foot Horticulture Center received LEED Platinum certification, the first for the university. This building, according to the university, is the last component of a “master plan”-envisioned way as far back as 1977-for a modern botanical garden. Structural steel used in the project was all locally-sourced, to add to it’s already high recycled content.

Archive: Jeff Dahl’s American Institute of Steel Reclamation Designed to Educate Truth of Steel Scrap Yards

That statement begins the description of the American Institute of Steel Reclamation (AISR). Designed by Jeff Dahl and Jan Lim, AISR is an educational institute concept that is designed to be incorporated around a functioning scrap yard. Their unique design and idea was strong enough to win 1st place in the 2008-2009 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)/American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Steel Design Student Competition.

“The initial concept came after visiting the local scrap yard and being instantly fascinated by the processes simultaneously occurring there,” explained Jeff. “From the initial intake of vehicles, to their dismantling and removal of contaminated parts, all the way through the crushing of vehicles to be used as input feed for new steel. Standing on site and watching all the complexities co-exist was intriguing, as well as something that I knew many people have not seen before. That is why my design partner Jan Lim and I decided to program our project around an educational institute.”

Jeff is was most recently a Masters student at Columbia University in New York City with a Masters degree in Advanced Architectural Design but at the time of the design he was going for his Bachelors at Woodbury University School of Architecture in California. He eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Describing the sleek design, Jeff describes his favorite part being the curve in the building that focuses from inside the building towards a vehicle crusher.

“The boomerang shape really highlights the machinery and technical beauty of a scrap yard, educating visiting in a first-person experience rather than pictures in a book or on a computer screen.”

First-hand educating the public, according to Jeff, is one of the best ways to change negative connotations about steel and auto recycling industries.

“I would recommend [people] go out and look at steel for themselves. Look at the strength steel structured buildings in your city, the functionality of shipping containers floating by on cargo ships or on the back of semi-trucks, and look at those trucks themselves to see the flexibility in steel as a design material.”

“For most people, hearing the terms auto recycling sparks a visual in their heads of dirty oil, bent metal, and piles of ‘junk,’” Jeff continued. “In reality though, it’s a beautiful process exemplifying the life cycle of a material and its ability to be rebuilt (or upcycled) into something new.”

“We are all told as kids to not judge a book by its cover, but the reality is, we all judge by first impressions rather than educating ourselves deeper on the subject matter. This is why we decided on the institutional aspect of our project, giving visitors the chance to see the processes and make an informed opinion about steel recycling for themselves.”

“There is always the library, the internet, or a local chapter of a steel organization, but just like the concept of my design, getting out and seeing steel in action first-hand is the best way. Seriously go to your local auto scrap yard, even if you know nothing about cars and don’t want to buy anything. Walk around, explore the space, and absorb yourself within the steel. Today it may be a 10 year old car, but 1 week from now it can be the steel structure for a new school. This is a truly amazing process.”

As a designer, Jeff praises steel highly as a material of choice.

“Steel is an especially important material in California, where this project what designed, because of its physical strength and ability to withstand the rumbling of earthquakes. The shear ability to span great distances and elevate a building with ease is what makes our design so successful, and it would not be possible (without greatly destroying the floating aesthetic we strived for) with any material but steel. Steel is everywhere, and is actually a beautiful material with many useful characteristics allowing it to adapt to almost any situation. Steel is also beneficial because of its flexibility in terms of scale.”

“The more that I use and explore the inherent qualities of steel, the more I fall in love with it. Steel is an amazing material with extreme potential that has provided lots of opportunity in architecture and design. The skyscrapers of the world would not be possible without steel, and the shipping industry would be vastly different. Steel is ideal for pre-fabricated installations (the facade of our design is constructed using existing windshields and front windows of cars on a louver system to provide shading and opacity), allowing for a ‘plug-and-play’ architecture that gets installed quickly, efficiently, and safely.”

In addition to the design benefits of using steel, Jeff maintains the environmental impact of steel is just as important in material selection.

“I care deeply about the future of our planet,” Jeff says. “The steel industry is ripe with sustainable opportunities, especially with steels ability to be recycled into new materials after its initial intended life. It can be used for anything you imagine. The negative connotation typically associated with the recycling or scrapping of cars is no longer valid, and if society continues to believe that scrap yards are dirty, grungy places, sustainability will never succeed.”

To see more of Jeff’s designs, visit his personal website. For more images of AISR specifically, visit here.

To view the most recent winners of the AISC Steel Design Student Competition, visit their website.

Archive: Habitat for Humanity ReStore is Restoring Convenience with Drive-Thru Recycling

The convenience of drive-thrus has been around since the 1930s. Usually those who participate in these lines are handed a bag of fast food. Now, however, a more healthy exchange is taking place in Springfield, Missouri. Set to open later this summer, a drive-thru recycling drop-off is planned as an attachment to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Included in this drop-off will be steel cans and scrap metal. Community Development Coordinator Trent Sims says steel is a necessary addition.

“Steel is an important resource that keeps our society going,” said Sims. “The industrial age would be nothing without steel or other materials and it is important to reuse those resources whenever possible so that future generations can continue to make innovations. As the population grows, we don’t want to waste needed land resources on collection sites for garbage or other materials that could be used for something else.

The drive-thru is more then just an easier way to drop off materials for residents already utilizing the facility, Sims is confident it will attract new participants as well.

“We did not want to merely, attract those who were already dropping off their materials at another site; but were compelled to come to ours because our location was closer, or because they wanted to support our mission,” Sims explained. “By creating a ‘drive-thru facility’ we are hoping to attract a demographic that has been unable to recycle due to a lack of time or convenience.”

The facility, since 2002, has had a strong following and has kept over three million cans out of the local landfill. During 2010 alone they diverted nearly 1,000 tons of materials from the landfill.

“This project will allow us to divert an additional 113.9 tons annually of aluminum cans and scrap metal,” said Sims. “In 2010 we collected 5.15 tons of cans, this was mainly from business partners in our ‘cans for habitat’ program, by advertising a public site and having 10 donation bins spread out around the city, we should be able to double our collection of cans. Scrap metal was 51.8 tons and now that we will have a public site, we have more partners willing to help us. This is very important because we are a non-profit that heavily depends on our volunteers in the community.”

“What makes our ReStore so great is the fact that we can serve as a collection site for household goods that others have decided that they no longer need, and sell them to locals at a highly reduced rate or through vouchers provided to the community,” Sims continued. “It provides a way to divert materials while also funding Habitat for Humanity in a sustainable fashion, which keeps us building homes in times of economic crisis.”

“Another added bonus to recycling steel is the revenue that is generated. While Habitat for Humanity feels that the environment is very important, and we are in the process of making all our future homes energy star rated. We find the recycling center to be very important because it helps us fulfill our mission of building affordable housing.”

Building homes, collecting and redistributing materials and now a larger capability of recycling steel and other goods the ReStore facility in Springfield is going above and beyond making a difference in their community.

“Basically the only difference between recycling and throwing away your household items, is what container you put it,” concluded Sims. “Many cities may not have convenient means of recycling or door to door service like the trash company, so that prevents a lot of people from participating. In the case of Springfield, MO and other cities with Habitat ReStores, we will come and pick up your household items. All you have to do is call and we will come get it and knowing that it will build a home for someone in need or prevent someone somewhere from having to live next to an unneeded landfill, is enough motivation for me.”

Archive: Tulsa Master Recyclers Educating Others on Environmental Responsibility

For the last few years, a group of individuals in Oklahoma have come together to promote the benefits of recycling, waste prevention and doing volunteer work in their community. Their name is the Tulsa Master Recyclers. The influence and impact they make in the community played a role in the recent addition of steel food and beverage cans to the Tulsa curbside program.

The program was started in 2008 by a city official with the initial purpose of encouraging residents to sign up for the curbside recycling program. Since then, it has expanded to several programs including a hope to make curbside service an automatic part of Tulsa’s trash plan rather then the current $2/month additional cost. Their presence in the community and their representation on the board of the Tulsa Recycling Association played an unofficial role in the addition of steel cans to their curbside program.

“The more materials accepted the better,” said Diana Askins, President and founding member of the Tulsa Master Recyclers.

Growing their curbside the same way they grew the program is just one of their many goals.

“There were only 12 in the initial class and four or five others that continued after,” said Diana Askins, President and a founding member of the Tulsa Master Recyclers. “They wanted to do something new and different and took over from there. There are around 50 active people now.”

To become a Tulsa Master Recycler you join a class for 10 weeks, 2 hours per week. These 20 hours of education allow attendees to talk about different kinds of recycling, materials and what’s on in Tulsa specifically. Those who finish the class commit to giving 30 hours of volunteer time annually.

“We can start programs in schools and surrounding areas to get the kids involved,” explained Diana. “Once you get the kids, you get the families.”

They also provide bins and work with planners for recycling events, encourage residents to bring their own bags to farmer’s markets and be a “Green Neighborhood.”

“Being a ‘Green Neighborhood’ will eventually be a contest between different neighborhood associations,” said Diana. “Certain things will get points, such as not putting motor oil down the drain and signing up for curbside recycling.”

“After a certain amount of points these neighborhoods would be able to tout themselves as being ‘certified green’”

Starting similar programs in other towns can seem overwhelming but Diana says anybody who needs help can ask them and they’d be happy to assist. “We are not just a recycling program, it’s about education.”

These masters are educating their town and hope it’ll create new masters in new towns too.

Archive: Recycling Center Spotlight: Knox County Recycling Center A CANtastic Decade of Steel Collection

Image from MountVernonNews.com
While most well-meaning consumers intend to recycle their home steel products, it wouldn’t be possible without the tens of thousands of curbside and drop-off locations across the nation. Knox County Recycling Center in Mount Vernon, OH has been in operation for over ten years accepting steel food and beverage cans, aerosol cans, scrap steel and several other types of materials.

While there are curbside programs in the area to compliment the convenience of this facility, the Knox drop-off location remains active as ever.

Steel products are a staple of any recycling program and Knox County Recycling Coordinator Linda Montgomery says it’s because of how easy the process is.

“It is extremely easy to operate and fun to watch. Steel and aluminum cans are recycled together and piled onto a large conveyor belt that rises overhead. When the cans are at the end of the conveyor belt, all the aluminum cans drop off into a large pile or pit ready to be bailed; the steel cans are propelled across the opening by a large magnetic strip, after the leap the steel cans land on another conveyor belt and head to a second bailer. Both bailers have the ability to crush the cans and then wire the bale together. The bales are loaded into a semi and are ready to be shipped away and melted down to begin the remanufacturing process.”

According to the Steel Recycling National Recycling Database there are currently over 7,700 curbside programs across the United States which provide recycling to over 164 million citizens while there are almost 13,000 drop-off locations. Both of these recycling options are vital to keeping steel as North America’s #1 most recycled material and Linda acknowledges that.

“Recycling steel saves 75 percent of the energy that would be used to create steel from raw materials,” Linda continued. “Steel has been recycled for 150 years and most steel structural beams and plates are made from almost 100% recycled steel.”

She does, however, see an advantage in drop-off locations.

“The advantage of drop-off locations is willing participation,” she stated. “People who have invested time to drive to a drop-off are serious about recycling and do a good job [preparing materials]. Curbside participants put out anything they think they can recycle.”

She went on and also stated how curbside programs require the route to be run twice – once for garbage and trash and again for recyclables, which ties up manpower and equipment.

“Drop-off locations are so important to the community,” she concluded. “The average person will drive three miles out of their way to recycle so the more convenient it is the greater the chance of getting someone to recycle.”

The convenience of 24 hour drop-off availability goes hand-in-hand with the simplicity of curbside pickup. Luckily most Americans don’t have to choose and can utilize both options for their steel recycling needs.

Archive: Kirkwood Curbside Turns Steel into Profit in First Month

A man enjoys downtown KirkwoodOpposition to curbside recycling usually presents the argument of unnecessary cost as their primary reason. With looming economic questions, how can a community afford to begin a new program when there are so few funds to go around? In Kirkwood, Missouri they answered these questions by creating a curbside program and making it a revenue stream as well, thanks to steel.

Steel food and aerosol cans were among the recycled materials that were then resold for $15,245.78 revenue. Combining this with the $11,509.96 from landfill fees they avoided and the total net savings for January was $26,755.74, a truly great accomplishment for the program.

“We did not anticipate this high of a start,” says Todd A. Rehg, the Director of Public Works. The program was discussed for 18 months in advance to their January launch and after the first month they had recycled 44 percent of all trash collected from recycling households, practically cutting their waste stream in half.

Steel’s immense value has a sustainable resource made it a must-have inclusion into the program. Unlike competing materials, creating new steel out of recycled materials uses less energy then creating virgin material so there is always a high demand.

“Curbside recycling is important to a community to give that community a sense of accomplishment of recycling rather than overtaxing the landfills,” continued Rehg. “The inclusion of aerosol cans, for example, only adds an additional recyclable material that otherwise would go to the landfill.”

Prior to the launch of the curbside program, the only recycling option for steel products in the area was a single drop off location. While this provided some support, the ease and broader coverage of a curbside program is tough to rival. For every steel can that was thrown in the trash, rather then taken to the drop off location, we lost the potential power savings of watching television for an hour or powering a 60 watt light bulb for more than four hours.

If the success will last, it remains to be seen, but this type of early success should motivate late arrivals to join the curbside caravan in Kirkwood.

“Residents need to take pride in recycling and keep separating the recyclable materials from their trash,” concluded Rehg.

A program that helps the environment and saves money for residents is definitely something to be proud of.

Archive: GE & ARCA Partnership Will Boost Steel Appliance Recycling

General Electric Appliances & Lighting have reached an agreement with the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA). This appliance recycling agreement will keep valuable steel from becoming landfill waste. This announcement teams along side the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program to responsibly dispose of refrigerators and other appliances by diverting them from landfills and into the recycling process.

Purchasing new and improved appliances not only increase energy efficiency around the house, the old and inefficient appliances they’re replacing are being put to excellent use as well. According to a recent GE survey, nearly 9 million refrigerators are disposed of every year in the United States. The average steel weight of a refrigerator is about 100 pounds and the annual steel recycling rate of appliances is 90%. That means roughly 45,000 tons of steel are being improperly discarded and are missed opportunities for new products.

Seventy percent of survey respondents also said they want all or part of their used appliance to be recycled. To make sure the consumers’ desires are met, GE will supply used appliances from several different states to ARCA’s Advanced Processing regional recycling center in Philadelphia. There they can recover 95% of insulating foam from refrigerators which will reduce landfill waste, green house gas emissions and ozone-depleting substances.

In addition they will continue to utilize the RAD program, which the EPA has run since 2006. They are working with partners such as municipalities, universities, utility companies and major retailers Sears and Best Buy, to accept old appliances and offer vouchers or rebates on bills or new purchases. This also benefits utility companies by removing old, inefficient appliances off the power grid. The force behind a company as large as GE will continue to improve on its already established success.
“GE’s commitment to develop and deploy solutions to today’s environmental challenges is a top priority,” the President and CEO of GE Appliances & Lighting, James Campbell, stated in a press release. “Working with the EPA and ARCA on responsible appliance disposal is another great step forward in the spirit of GE’s Ecomagination initiative.”

GE’s own Ecomagination, launched in 2005, has been an initiative aimed at presenting “green” solutions to global problems. In 2009, $1.5 billion was invested in research and development and the company has an expressed goal of putting forth an additional $10 billion by 2015. These investments have helped create such improvements as reducing green house gas emissions by 22 percent compared to 2004 and reducing water consumption 30 percent compared to 2006.

Those same goals and more are what ARCA has been pushing towards since it’s inception in the mid-1970s. They helped establish the nation’s first large scale appliance recycling center in 1989 and were also key members in shaping the EPA’s current RAD system.

“ARCA prides itself on innovation,” stated President and CEO Jack Cameron. “With GE’s logistics expertise and customer relationships and ARCA’s investment in this leading-edge technology, this partnership is a game-changer for U.S. appliance recycling.”

For more information on GE’s Ecomagination initiative, please visit http://www.ecomagination.com.

For more information the EPA’s RAD Program, please visit http://www.epa.gov/ozone/partnerships/rad/.

For more information on ARCA, please visit http://www.arcainc.com.

Archives: Recycling Aerosol: Just Another Steel Can

Americans have become quite adept at making use of their aerosol containers. Loosening a chain on a bike, keeping foods from sticking to pans and touching up paint are just a few of the ways that we put aerosols to use in our homes. Yet, when it comes to end-of-life disposal of the container, many consumers fall deficient on reaching the true potential of steel aerosol containers.

Fact is, steel aerosol containers are every bit as recyclable as the steel food cans millions of consumers routinely put in their recycling bins. Yet, many steel aerosol containers are not finding their way to the recycling bins. In some cases, this is because of dated misconceptions, but in a large number of cases, it’s just a simple disconnect about the package’s recyclability.

According to Greg Crawford, Executive Director of the Steel Recycling Institute, it’s as simple as picking up a new habit. “Many aerosol products aren’t in the kitchen where a lot of household recyclables are generated from, they’re in the bathroom or other side of the house, it creates a little bit of a disconnect.”

To help bridge that disconnect, many steel aerosol cans now have a “please recycle when empty” logo to help consumers learn how to properly recycle them. But, local recycling programs, looking to maximize the diversion of recyclables from landfills also need to better inform consumers that steel aerosol containers are easily recyclable once empty through normal use.

According to the Steel Recycling Institute’s National Recycling Database, there are over 15,000 locations that accept steel cans but only a third of those actively publicizes their approval of aerosol cans. The truth is, the process of separating steel cans from other materials often ends up including aerosols, too, whether they state it or not.

When materials in curbside recycling bins are picked up and taken away, the first thing that happens is they go to a material recovery facility (MRF). At the MRF, recyclables are loaded on a sorting line. Aerosols, like all steel products, are magnetically attracted. Virtually all MRF’s have magnetic belts which they use to automatically separate steel recyclables. This magnetic belt pulls the steel products out of the line and directs them into a different bin. When aerosol cans are included, they are picked up right along with food steel cans and baled together to go off to the steel mill for recycling. Because of this, aerosols may be added to the publicized list of accepted materials very easily without additional steps from community programs.

Virtually all processing mills already have aerosol cans in the mix, whether they’re formally included or not; they show up because consumers are putting them in curbside or drop-off bins. There are many more products that are appropriately labeled now, as they present themselves in the curbside or drop-off collection boxes they are in the stream and not called out or rejected, they move on.

Some program managers for curbside or drop-off programs are uncertain as to whether steel aerosol should be included with other steel cans; the fear is they may not be entirely empty.

“By way of formal testing by the Steel Recycling Institute,” explained Crawford, “we’ve determined that the steel aerosol cans sourced from households are statistically not just empty but very empty. The reason they’re empty is because people don’t buy them to throw away full cans, they use the product to its last ‘breath’. The efficacy of aerosols as a package is excellent since virtually all of the product stays fresh and usable until the contents are finally exhausted. ”

“The main thing about recycling an aerosol can properly is to use the product up,” continued Crawford. “If you’re not going to use all that’s in can, give it to a neighbor who can use it. Or ultimately, if you have a damaged one that is a new can, you may take it back to the place you bought it for replacement. In the case of old cans, say, with a sticky nozzle, most communities have an annual or monthly special waste collection day. The full or partially full cans can go to that activity for appropriate treatment.”

Too many aerosol cans are taking up landfill space while valuable steel is not being recycled and reused as efficiently as it could be. “Remember, just because the program may not have formally allowed them, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting recycled,” Crawford concluded. “So, it’s up to the resident to realize that the empty steel aerosol cans should be recycled just like any other steel can and get to the right place. The Steel Recycling Institute is pleased to help communities add empty steel aerosol cans to the mix of recyclables diverted from solid waste for recycling.”

For questions related to the recycling of your steel aerosol cans, contact the Steel Recycling Institute via its website at http://recycle-steel.org.

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