What’s going in the dumpster on Earth Day?

The manufacturing sector has some of the greatest potential for recycling and is a key contributor to establishing the recovered materials economy of the future. However, it is also prone to delaying implementation of a recycling program or simply not realizing its full benefits.

Are there items in your warehouse or shop floor that are going to the garbage dumpster instead of being recycled? If so, you may be missing out on a valuable recycling revenue stream. Here is an example of five items you may not realize are highly recyclable:

1. Drill bits, cutting tools (tungsten carbide)
One of the most infinitely recyclable metals, tungsten carbide has many unique properties including a very high melting point and a very high density. When an operator replaces a carbide insert, about 95% of the carbide is still intact and capable of being recycled. Of this carbide, tungsten comprises 75% of the content. Because it is a finite resource, the ability to recycle tungsten is vital in keeping costs low to ensure supply. And there is no difference in quality between cutting tools made from recycled or virgin materials.

2. Batteries (lead and acid)
Over 96 percent of the materials in a lead-acid battery, including the lead, are recyclable. Compare that number to only 38 percent of recoverable material in glass bottles. Gel cells and sealed lead-acid batteries are commonly used to power industrial equipment, emergency lighting, and alarm systems and follow the same recycling process applies as automotive batteries.

3. Wire (copper and brass)
With global electrification, which uses copper wire, and the scarcity of copper ore, copper recycling will need to increase to nearly 100 percent by the end of the 21st century, according to a study by International Institute for Environment and Development. Recycling companies pay more depending upon the gauge and condition of the copper wire, and if you want to maximize the value of your wire, remove the casings.

4. Shingles, appliances, cans, doors and windows (aluminum and steel)
Aluminum is the most recyclable of all materials – 100 percent. And a recycled aluminum can ends up as another aluminum can in as little as 60 days, and has no limit to the number of times it can be recycled. Steel products can be recycled repeatedly without loss of strength. Millions of tons of iron and steel are diverted from waste to the recycling stream due to steel’s magnetic properties that make it the easiest material to separate from the solid waste stream.

5. Old electronics, also known as “E-scrap” (industrial gold and silver)
Although it may seem obvious to want to recycle these precious metals, they often are contained in some unknown sources. Known electronic or “E-Scrap,” industrial gold and silver can be found in computers, some small appliances, and other electronic devices.
The recycling industry transforms over 150 million metric tons of obsolete materials from annually from manufacturers, consumers, and other businesses, into useful raw materials. Make sure your company is doing its part this Earth Day by reviewing your company’s recycling practices and efficiencies.

United Milwaukee Scrap LLC buys, processes and sells scrap metals generated from industry, obsolete materials, plant tear downs, construction, and other sources. For more information or to contact, call (414) 449-4410 or visit us at www.umswi.com.

Susan Paprcka is the corporate marketing director for United Milwaukee Scrap

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