As one of the nation's largest recyclers of scrap metal, Schnitzer's metals recycling facilities collect, broker, process and recycle metal, both ferrous (containing iron) and nonferrous (not containing iron). Our integrated platform enables the delivery of processed metals to steel mills and foundries around the world for new production due to our strategically located facilities. Continuous capital investments in advanced technologies provide high quality, operationally efficient scrap metal processing.
We purchase scrap metals from the Western U.S. and Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, the New England states, the Southeast and Puerto Rico. Our proximity to large industrial suppliers and railways, deep water ports and major highways provides us with strong sources of supply and a competitive advantage to deliver processed scrap metal wherever demand is greatest.
Scrap metal is purchased from industrial manufacturers, railroads, auto salvage facilities, metal dealers and individuals. The metal typically comes from obsolete machinery and equipment such as autos, railroad cars, railroad tracks, home appliances and demolition metal from buildings and other obsolete structures. As part of our vertical integration, we also purchase crushed auto bodies from our auto recycling facilities. Purchased scrap arrives at our metals recycling facilities daily by ship, barge, rail, truck, car and even individuals on foot.
Once the scrap metal arrives at one of our yards, it is processed by sorting, shearing, shredding, torching and baling. This results in metal pieces of a size, density and purity specified by steel mills and foundries for melting and use in the production of new steel and other metal products. Smaller, more homogeneous pieces of processed metal have more value because they are more easily utilized in new metal production.
One of the most efficient ways to process metal is to use shredding systems. A shredder reduces auto bodies, home appliances and other metal into fist-sized pieces in seconds. Shredded material is then carried by conveyor under magnetized drums which attract the ferrous materials and separate them from the nonferrous materials. The remaining nonferrous metal is further sorted and graded before being sold. Recycled metals are sold to domestic and foreign customers, including our Steel Manufacturing Business which purchases recycled ferrous metals to produce new steel. We ship to customers via bulk cargo ships, barges, railroad cars and trucks. We achieve cost efficiencies from our export facilities at seven deep water ports and locations close to major railroads and highways. Our recycling facilities have an aggregate processing capability of more than 5 million tons of ferrous metal and 600 million pounds of nonferrous metal annually.
We invest continually in our facilities to maximize cost efficiencies, to deliver the highest quality products and to ensure regulatory and environmental compliance. We operate mega-shredders at our export processing facilities in Oakland, CA; Everett, MA; Portland, OR and Tacoma, WA. Mega-shredders shred more efficiently, process a greater range of materials, and produce an end product which is denser and can be used more efficiently by steel mills. In conjunction with new state-of-the-art nonferrous metals recovery systems, mega-shredders improve the recoverability of valuable nonferrous metals such as aluminum, copper, brass, stainless steel, and zinc. Capital improvements and investment in new technologies have also been made to upgrade our facilities for fossil fuel conservation and to utilize clean and reliable electricity.
Our strategy is focused on enhancing the inherent synergies in our auto and metals recycling facilities and with our steel mill. Our auto parts stores are key suppliers to our metals recycling facilities and we expect to continue to grow in core regions where we have a significant market presence and competitively advantageous port access. We look to grow through joint ventures that provide us additional opportunities for recycling metals and other materials. These businesses provide metals recycling facilities; removal and disposition of surplus railroad assets (such as railroad track); and demolition, dismantling and environmental remediation services.
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