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Sustainability / Environment

Energy Efficiency, Resource Conservation and Emission Reductions through Technology

Among Schnitzer's businesses, the adoption of technology is commonly used to improve production and resource efficiencies, to minimize costs and maximize profits margins.

Our investments to improve the energy efficiency of our operations and reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources are delivering cost savings while reducing our greenhouse gas and smog-forming air pollutant emissions. This is good for business, good for the environment and good for our people and the communities in which we serve.

Fossil Fuel Conservation

The installation of fuel catalysts and micro-oil filter systems has improved our fuel economy, reduced air pollutants and extended the useful life of engine oil. Since 2011, Schnitzer's Transportation and Maintenance Departments have installed more than 137 combustion catalyst and oil filtration systems on their on-road diesel truck fleet, off-road diesel rolling stock and other stationary diesel machines. In 2013, 66 units were equipped with these cost saving, fuel saving, oil life extending technologies. We estimate that 175,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 4,900 gallons of new engine oil and 4,900 gallons of waste engine oil are conserved annually through use of these systems. These fuel savings are reducing our annual carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 3.8 million pounds. Additionally, the combustion catalyst systems reduce air pollutants emitted from the tailpipes of equipment which operates these devices.

Clean & Reliable Electricity

Over the past decade, Schnitzer has made considerable investments in retrofitting its fleet of car crushers from mobile units powered by diesel fuel to stationary units powered by electricity. In addition, we have converted many of our large equipment generators from diesel to electrical powered units. These initiatives are expected to result in:

  • Reduced air pollutants associated with diesel fuel consumption
  • Minimized dependence on finite diesel fuel resources
  • Reduced direct greenhouse gas emissions from diesel fuel use

Additionally, equipment powered by electricity is more reliable than that powered by diesel fuel and requires less routine maintenance during its useful life.

Our auto parts stores operate a fleet of more than 50 car crushers and have retrofitted more than 60% of them over the past 5 years. The switch to electrical power has reduced our consumption of diesel fuel by more than 230,000 gallons and avoided 2,300 metric tons of direct carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2013, Schnitzer's facility in Surrey, BC completed construction of an electrical-powered mega-shredder to replace a diesel-powered shredder formerly operating at Schnitzer's facility in nearby Victoria. The new Surrey shredder consumes zero diesel fuel (a savings of 106,000 gallons annually), demands 210 gigajoules less in energy per year and avoids approximately 496 metric tons of direct carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually. Additionally, since the Surrey shredder is connected to an electricity grid that is sourced predominately from BC Hydro's hydroelectric generating plants, our shredder is using electricity that comes almost entirely from renewable sources.

Energy Efficient Lighting

In fiscal 2013, Schnitzer's metals recycling facility in Everett, MA began an initiative to retrofit the facility's more than 100 interior and exterior lighting fixtures. At mega-shredder facilities like this one, the 12+ hours and 365 day lighting demand-use, coupled with high-intensity vibration and severe seasonal weather, places extra strain on already aged lighting technologies. These older energy inefficient fixtures require routine and costly maintenance. Ranging from 1,000 watt metal halides to 70 watt tube fluorescents, these old fixtures are being replaced with high efficiency LED fixtures with no decrease to the retrofitted areas' required light intensities. Thus far, the Everett facility has retrofitted 40 interior and exterior fixtures in a variety of work areas. The new LED fixtures require virtually zero maintenance, have an estimated useful life of up to 12 years and are cutting electricity costs by an estimated 25% per fixture.

Other energy efficient lighting initiatives include:

  • In 2013, our metals recycling facility in Rancho Cordova, CA retrofitted lighting in their maintenance warehouse, baler room and nonferrous receiving area to reduce electricity use and provide a safer working environmental for employees and customers.
  • In 2013, our Pick-n-Pull stores in Columbus, OH and Rocklin, CA retrofitted lighting in their production buildings to reduce electricity use and provide a safer working environment for employees.
  • In 2011, our Pick-n-Pull stores in Fresno, CA; Merced, CA and Newark, CA retrofitted lighting in their offices, showrooms and vehicle drain bays.

These projects are expected to reduce electricity usage by approximately 130,000 kWh annually, reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions by more than 200,000 pounds, improve working environments and decrease utility costs.

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