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Sustainability / Environment

In Responsible Hands

Recycling the Iconic San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Through 2016, the 77 year old, 9,000-foot-long eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will undergo a meticulous demolition project, delivering tons of scrap metal to Schnitzer's Oakland, CA mega-shredder and deep-water port facility. Recycling the Bay Bridge is a significant environmental challenge that Schnitzer is proud to undertake.

25 years in the making, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge's eastern span replacement was completed on September 2, 2013 and opened to the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area daily commuters. As motorists cross the new self-anchored suspension bridge spanning between the Oakland shoreline and Yerba Buena Island, the original double-decked east span can be seen awaiting its timely deconstruction, demolition and recycling. This is scheduled to take place 2013 through 2016.

Demolition of the old eastern span has been divided into 3 contracts. Beginning in November 2013, the first contract includes the removal of road decks and steel support beams, steel trusses and the two 385-foot tall and 1,400-foot spanning steel piers of the primary cantilever and island-connecting sections. The second contract includes removal of the remaining Oakland shoreline-connecting section, an approximate two-thirds of the total eastern span length. The final contract will include removal of the entire eastern span's marine foundation. In preparation to accept the bridge's 10,000 steel trusses and thousands of tons of rebar and other steel components, Schnitzer has constructed a contained concrete pad specifically to handle this project. As they are received, steel pieces will be torched and sheared to specific sizes for recycling.

Generating New Energy from Old Gear

Since 2008, Schnitzer has been a major partner in the national Fishing for Energy initiative, a project that provides a cost-free and sustainable solution for the commercial fishing industry in California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. This project's mandate is to responsibly recycle old equipment, recover equipment from the ocean floor and use the equipment to generate renewable energy. To date, the program has recycled more than two million pounds of fishing gear.

Unseen and largely forgotten, tons of old fishing nets, ropes, lobster traps and fishing buoys litter the world's oceans. A 2009 study, published jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimated that lost fishing fear represents approximately 10% of an estimated 640,000 tons per year of all marine litter. Once abandoned, this equipment often begins a second life "ghost fishing," snagging everything from commercially valuable fish to endangered sea life to boat propellers.

With our century-long expertise at finding value in discarded material, Schnitzer is helping to provide a solution. Our company is a volunteer partner in the Fishing for Energy program, donating collection equipment, transportation services and some processing and recycling services to prepare the recovered ocean debris for use as feedstock in Energy-from-Waste (EfW) electricity generation facilities. In nine states, at 41 strategic port locations along the United States' northwestern and northeastern coasts, the program collects 12 to 15 tons of gear per site each year.

Inspired by a more than decade-long running program in Hawaii, which Schnitzer Hawaii's recycling services helped make a success, the Fishing for Energy partnership includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy and Schnitzer.

The program brings the solution right to the source. Collection bins are provided at the docks, where fishermen can conveniently deposit their gear. From there, Schnitzer provides the logistics and recycling expertise. When the bins are full, the gear is transported to a Schnitzer facility. Metal components from crab pots, gear rigging and other debris are separated for recycling. Ropes and nets are sheared into small pieces. Metal components are recycled and non-metallic materials are transported to an EfW facility, where it is converted into electricity. As the program expands, more fishermen will be able to dispose of discarded and recovered fishing gear for free. Some will even receive financial incentives to recover abandoned gear.

Building on this success, Schnitzer and its partners are exploring other locations for launching new Fishing for Energy programs. Schnitzer will continue to provide technical expertise, recycling resources, logistics and overall support to Fishing for Energy, with a goal to grow the program in California and Oregon and expand the program into Washington, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

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