Cost benefits of recycling
January 10, 2002
This article describes applications for chopping scrap from stamping operations and how to use recycling for cost containment -- as opposed to to profit building -- through more concentrated scrap hauling, better use of floor space, and enhanced employee safety.
Companies are beginning to realize the importance of practical recycling, efficient use of space, employee safety, and profit recovery. As a result, many companies today are compacting their stamping scrap by chopping it into small pieces.
Scrap choppers are designed to stand alone where they can be hand-fed, despool material off reels, or integrated inline with a stamping operation. The chopper pulls the scrap into the machine and directs it into the chopper anvils. Using one stationary anvil and at least one rotating anvil, the chopper cuts the scrap into short lengths as it passes through the anvils and drops it into a container, where it is safely stored until it's ready to be removed.
Choppers can be customized to chop material into different lengths through a variety of knife configurations. They can accommodate material up to 10 in. wide and can handle many thicknesses, depending on the type of material, hardness, and tensile strength of the scrap.
Of course, stampers can find many reasons to recycle, including environmental benefits, but the bottom line is that businesses must be profitable to keep their doors open. When a company disposes of less scrap, it requires fewer dumpster pickups, which leads to savings in disposal fees and increased bottom-line profit.
Scrap disposal for stampers can be especially wasteful. Odd-shaped stamped scrap is awkward and bulky; companies that ship this type of scrap for disposal are shipping containers that are one-quarter full of scrap and three-quarters full of air. Chopping the scrap into small cut lengths compacts the scrap, allowing more to fit into a container; in some instances, a reduction of 20-to-1 is possible in the amount of space the scrap consumes in a container.
Storage of uncompacted scrap takes up plant floor space that could be used for production. Regardless how much a stamper pays for property, it can't afford to waste floor space on scrap storage.
For instance, a typical 30-yard dumpster occupies 160 square feet. Even if that area costs only $1.50 per square foot, thousands of dollars a year could be saved by chopping the scrap and using a smaller dumpster.
Safety is a concern for any company dealing with unwanted scrap. Everyone is interested in reducing on-the-job injuries; fewer workplace accidents and fewer threats of litigation result in lower workers' compensation insurance premiums.
Scrap that collects in bins or winds onto reels can pose a potential threat to employees. Every time employees have to unload a winder of stamping scrap or move scrap from a bin into a dumpster, they are at risk for cuts and back injuries.
Chopping the scrap as soon as it is generated, whether by hand, despooling from a reel, or in a chopping line, can reduce the chance of employee injury. Once the scrap is chopped, it drops into a container, where it is safely stored until the company ships it out or the scrap dealer picks it up.
Dealers pay more for uncontaminated, ready-to-process scrap than for material that must be chopped or separated into various elements. Scrap dealers almost never buy loose scrap and often charge to pick it up; they are more likely to purchase and pay for chopped scrap.
Of course, all recyclable materials are commodities, so their values fluctuate. For this reason, a recycling program should be based on cost avoidance rather than potential revenues. Money received from selling scrap should be a perk of a recycling program instead of the reason for implementing one.
Scrap compaction can be one way to reduce dumpster and transportation fees, use space efficiently, contribute to employee safety, and recover profit, all of which affect a company's profits.
Sweed Machinery Inc., P.O. Box 228, 653 2nd Ave., Gold Hill, OR 97525, phone 800-888-1352, fax 541-855-1512, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Web site www.sweed.com. Sweed Machinery engineers and manufactures chopping and recycling systems for all types of linear scrap for a variety of industries.