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INDUSTRIAL MATERIALS RECYCLING
Basic Considerations

 

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Introduction

Every industry, from the manufacturing of durable, household, and leisure goods for consumers to all forms of energy production (oil, natural gas, electricity…), creates varying types of re-usable and recyclable materials. Much like household solid waste, such as cardboard, printer paper, newspapers, cans, and plastic containers, industrial waste is also a valuable commodity that can easily and effectively be reused and recycled. Reasons for recycling these industrial waste materials include:

   Lessens the producer’s demand for raw materials thus preserving the environment;

   Energy is conserved and greenhouse gas emissions reduced by lessening the quantity of products manufactured through high energy demand processes.

   Saves money for both the producer and consumer as materials cost is lessened.

Overview

Industrial materials recycling is also known as by the government term, “beneficial use.” Both expressions refer to reusing or recycling waste materials generated from industrial processes. These industrial waste materials can be safely and successfully used in the manufacture and repair of buildings, roads, bridges, consumer goods and products, and a myriad of other construction-related projects. Currently, hundreds of millions of tons of non-hazardous industrial waste materials are not be re-used and recycled – at a substantial cost to both the company generating the waste and the companies engaged in the production of new goods who must purchase more expensive raw materials as recycled materials are not available.

Non-hazardous industrial waste materials include items such as gypsum, coal ash, slag, foundry sand, and various construction and demolition materials. Each of these unique by-products can be recycled or re-used in many different ways. Examples of best-practices in recycling include the following:

   Crushed concrete and asphalt used as structural fill or in pavement;

   Road embankments, concrete, and fill incorporating recycled coal fly ash, spent foundry sand and slag;

   Using recycled coal ash in the manufacturing of ceiling tiles and cement; and

   Utilizing flue gas gypsum, spent foundry sand, and paper byproducts for agricultural amendments and soil manufacturing.

Common Recycled Industrial Materials

There are four industrial categories that present opportunities for recycling. Each one will be discussed in greater detail below.

1. Demolition & Construction Materials
2. Coal Combustion Products
3. Foundry Sand
4. Scrap Tires

Demolition & Construction Materials

Demolition and construction materials are comprised of the waste created through demolition, construction, or repair of bridges, roads, and industrial and residential buildings. These materials include substances such as glass, metals, wood, concrete, plastics, and recovered building components such as furniture, fixtures, pipes....

Reducing, re-using, and recycling these materials reduces the need for landfills, lessens the impact on the environment, creates new jobs in the green economy, and has the possibility of reducing demolition and construction expenses by avoiding costs associated with purchase and disposal of waste.

Coal Combustion Products 

Coal combustion products, also referred to as CCPs, are materials produced from power plants reliant on coal for energy production. These products include Fly Ash, Bottom Ash, Boiler Slag, Flue Gas Material (FGD); and other materials such as cenospheres, fluidized bed combustion ash, and scrubber residues.

The primary beneficial use of these coal combustion industrial waste products is as a substitute for gypsum, gravel, or sand in building materials. Other beneficial uses of CCPs include use in wallboard, concrete, cement, grout, structural and flowable fill, ice and snow traction control, soil amendment, blasting grit and abrasives, roofing granules, stabilization and solidification of waste, and many more.

Foundry Sand 

The Industrial waste produced by aluminum, steel, and iron foundries result in spent foundry sands. Foundries require new sand for casting molds, and the sand can be recycled several times while maintaining its effectiveness. However, mechanical abrasion and heat will render the sand unusable over time, and a certain percentage of the total sand is continuously removed from production and replaced with new sand. The spent or unusable foundry sand is typically disposed of at a landfill.

For an example of the use of foundry sand, in cold climates, utilizing recycled foundry sands as base material  at construction site extends the work season as recycled foundry sands have a lower freezing temperature than most soils. This not only extends the time work can be completed at the site but also saves costs from using more expensive heaters and warming equipment.

Scrap Tires 

The proper disposal and recycling of tires designed for both passenger cars and heavy-duty equipment is a major concern as illegal dumping of tires results in contamination of the environment. All efforts must be made to ensure that unusable tires are collected and recycled.  Current recycled used for unusable tires include the following:

  • Aggregate derived from tires for landfill and road construction.

  • Rubber flooring and ground materials for use in new products such as sports surfaces and playground.

  • Rubberized asphalt for use in road surfaces.

  • Tire-derived fuel  as a fossil fuels replacement in certain devices.

Conclusion

Rules and regulations concerning the recycling of industrial waste vary from state to state so businesses looking for opportunities to re-use and recycle their material waste should contact their state’s environmental protection office.  Additionally, business owners looking to reduce their disposal and/or acquisition costs should look to resources such as Green America to investigate recycling and re-use opportunities for their industrial materials.

Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com

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