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Sustainability / Environment

Minimizing Environmental Impact

For Schnitzer, environmental stewardship means looking beyond the drainage pipe to consider how urban, industrial and agricultural activity affects entire environments. Through implementation/installation/adoption of new technologies and upgrades to existing facility infrastructure, we are doing our part to maintain water and land quality and minimize our environmental impact.

Protecting California's Waterways

Schnitzer's Pick-n-Pull chain of auto parts stores have been serving the local communities of Northern California for more than a quarter of a century. Within the auto recycling industry, our California stores have long served as flagships for quality, environmental, health and safety performance. Our Sacramento County and Bay Area stores serve as core training facilities for our new hires, as well as facilities to pilot new environmental best-management practices and develop health and safety training programs. Some stores have even hosted training sessions for state and local environmental regulatory agencies.

In fiscal 2013, the Pick-n-Pull Rancho Cordova store implemented considerable upgrades to its existing stormwater infrastructure, including the installation of a new advanced treatment system to improve the quality of stormwater runoff. The new upgrades include a 550-foot bio-retention swale to increase the site's total retention capacity and a new water filtration system using sand and activated-carbon filter media to improve the removal of solids and residual hydrocarbons.

Similar water filtration systems were installed at Pick-n-Pull California stores in Moss Landing, Richmond, Sacramento and Rocklin. These systems consist of multiple water clarifiers, large solid settling and water retention tanks and passive/pressurized sand-filter systems. Each of these systems ensures clean stormwater discharge and regulatory compliance.

Water Quality Performance and Habitat Restoration

In fiscal 2013, Schnitzer's Johnston, RI metal recycling facility completed a significant redesign of the facility's environmental infrastructure by commissioning a state-of-the-art stormwater collection and treatment system. Previously, the facility's stormwater runoff was collected and treated through solids separation and passive oil water separators before discharging offsite. To improve the quality of stormwater discharging from the facility, we made significant environmental capital investments to upgrade the existing stormwater system. A 350,000-gallon above-ground stormwater storage tank was installed, along with four bio-retention swales and a multi-stage pump station with four submersible pumps. The new storage tank collects stormwater runoff from the facility and provides an aeration system which helps reduce oxygen demand and prevent solids from accumulating in the tank bottom. Oil-water separators remove oil and solids from stormwater before the pumping station transfers stormwater at a peak flow rate of 6,000 gallons per minute, equal to a rainfall rate of approximately one inch per hour, into a newly constructed storage tank and bio-retention swales. The bio-retention swales are elongated concrete-walled channels which operate by gravity flow to filter pre-treated stormwater before conveyance to surface water discharge points. To the untrained eye, these swales are difficult to notice as they are integrated into the native vegetation, yet remain easily accessible for frequent monitoring, maintenance and emergency overflow access.

In fiscal 2012, development of a new metals recycling facility in Woodinville, WA included restoration of five acres of wetlands adjacent to Little Bear Creek. In addition to habitat restoration, Schnitzer built a sophisticated water filtration system to collect and clean stormwater runoff from the property. The water filtration system, along with other environmental features of the new site, is minimizing our environmental impact while performing beyond environmental regulatory requirements. Design and development of the facility showcases our commitment to protecting the environment and communities of which we operate in.

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