What We Do:
As one of North America’s largest metals recyclers, Schnitzer facilities acquire, process, and recycle millions of long tons of ferrous metals and hundreds of millions of pounds of nonferrous metals every single year.
These recycled metals represent critical feedstock in the global economy, supporting production of bridges, buildings, cars, public transit and passenger rail systems, and appliances, as well as more metal-intensive technologies, such as wind turbines, hydropower dams, advanced battery storage systems, upgraded electricity lines and electric vehicle charging stations, new broadband and reliable high-speed internet technology, and data centers.
Recycled metals are used to build critical infrastructure and produce essential technologies that provide meaningful environmental benefits including greenhouse gas emissions reduction, decreased air pollution, energy conservation, and water savings, as well as decreased materials sent to landfill. As the global community advances decarbonization strategies, the demand for recycled metals continues to grow.
Breaking Down Schnitzer’s Recycled Metals Stream
Ferrous metals enter our facilities initially as car bodies, appliances, and unused materials from manufacturing plants. After a rigorous intake process, these products run through our high-powered metal shredders. Once shredded, we extract valuable ferrous metals from the material, eventually transporting material grades to domestic and international mills to be melted and processed further. Finished products made from this material include rebar and flat products that support critical infrastructure projects across the world.
Nonferrous metals like aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium, and zinc make up the nearly 593 million pounds of materials processed by Schnitzer each year. Nonferrous metals arrive at Schnitzer facilities in many different forms. Using copper wire and piping as an example, materials are processed on-site where nonferrous components are extracted. After additional machine sorting and chopping, copper is transported to third-party smelters and made into new products. Increasingly relevant in today’s marketplace, copper, the world’s most conductive metal, is used in the construction of electric vehicles—as much as four times the amount currently used in internal combustion engine vehicles—only reinforcing the growing demand for recycled nonferrous metals.
What is Scrap?
Scrap is recyclable material, generally metal, sourced from industrial manufacturers, large retailers, landfill operators, and small businesses. From vehicle parts and building supplies to surplus materials and machinery, metal scrap has monetary value and is classified by grade or type, often relating to chemical composition and purity.
What We Do:
Auto Dismantling, Parts Recovery, and Vehicle Recycling
Our Pick-n-Pull business is an industry-leading chain of auto dismantling and self-service retail stores that sell original equipment manufacturer (OEM) auto parts to retail and wholesale customers. For over 30 years, Pick-n-Pull has offered affordable, quality parts for foreign and domestic cars, vans, and light trucks throughout our national network of 50 stores.
Pick-n-Pull Extracts Value from End-of-Life Vehicles for Reuse and Recycling:
Gasoline and diesel fuels, motor oil, and coolants
Windows, mirrors, seats, and other useful parts
Tires, headlights, and bumpers
Refrigerant gas, hydraulic fluids, and washer fluids
Transmissions, wires, alternators, pumps, and other mechanical components
Other recyclables and leftover items
2021 Pick-n-Pull by the Numbers
338K end-of-life vehicles purchased
6.7M pounds of tires recovered and recycled
352K metric tons of end-of-life vehicles dismantled and recycled
7.7M pounds of batteries recovered and recycled
18K mercury switches recovered and recycled
1M gallons of engine oils and hydraulic fluids recovered and recycled
1.7M gallons of gasoline and diesel fuels recovered and recycled
223K gallons of coolants and washer fluids recovered and recycled
Follow the Journey of a Vehicle at Our Operations
1 Arrival of vehicle
Vehicles at Pick-n-Pull locations are inspected upon arrival.
2 Removal and processing
of problematic materials
Fluids, batteries, mercury switches, and other potentially hazardous materials are removed from the vehicle. These materials are processed by third-party partners for responsible reclamation, recovery, incineration, or landfill disposal.
3 Customer opportunities for reuse
Vehicles are organized in self-service yards for customers to pick, pull, and purchase vehicle parts.
4 Preparing vehicles for materials recovery
After vehicle parts are sold, the remaining auto bodies are crushed and transported to one of Schnitzer’s metals recycling facilities or other metals recycling locations in North America.
5 Vehicle recycling process
Vehicle bodies undergo a shredding and sorting process where ferrous and nonferrous metals are recovered and sold to manufacturing operations. These materials are processed at steel mills and smelters around the world to make new products.
What We Do:
Supplying Low-Carbon Steel to Build High-Value Infrastructure Around the World
At our state-of-the-art electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill, we melt and shape recycled metal into steel products, including rebar, coiled rebar, wire rod, merchant bar, and other specialty items. These materials are used in numerous applications in construction by manufacturers, such as reinforcing concrete in highways, supporting bridges, and providing feedstock for new building development, to name just a few.
Our steel manufacturing operation, Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, leverages Schnitzer’s integrated business model by sourcing much of its metal feedstock from our own recycling facilities. We power this facility using primarily carbon-free hydroelectricity, greatly reducing the environmental impact of our operation and the overall carbon content of our finished steel products.
Located in McMinnville, Oregon, Cascade Steel’s finished products are sold to customers primarily located in the western U.S. and Canada.
What is an Electric Arc Furnace?
Electric arc furnaces (EAFs) use high-voltage electric currents to melt recycled ferrous scrap metal, the primary raw material feedstock. EAFs produce significantly less GHG emissions than basic oxygen furnace (BOF) steelmaking, which uses a mix of virgin iron ore, recycled metal, coal, and limestone as the raw material feedstock.
Our steel mill and EAF are powered by 96 percent renewable energy sources, making our steel products some of the most sustainable on the market.
in finished product
steel dust recycled
Domestic Steel Capacity
As 21st century technologies continue to become more metal-intensive, a strong domestic steel industry is critical to U.S. national and economic security. Steel plays an important role in supporting critical infrastructure and strengthening the competitiveness of many domestic manufacturing industries. By leveraging EAF technology, Schnitzer’s sustainable steel products are already delivering on the expected demand in the steel marketplace, as countries around the world seek low- or zero-carbon products and services.
Leveraging Valuable Byproducts from Steel Manufacturing
Our steel manufacturing operations also produce three valuable byproducts: steel dust, mill scale, and slag.
Steel dust is separated, analyzed, and often sold to recyclers that recover zinc from the material, thereby reducing virgin zinc mining and production. Similarly mill scale is reused, as it offers valuable opportunities to offset virgin iron ore mining and production.
Slag typically represents the highest-volume byproduct from the steel manufacturing process and contains a mixture of silica, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, and iron oxide residuals from the fluxes used during the smelting process. For every metric ton of steel produced in an EAF, 0.17 metric tons of slag is generated. Steel slag is a valuable commodity sold for reuse by cement companies to substitute for lime. It can also be used in road construction to replace natural aggregates, in agriculture as a fertilizer, or as coastal marine blocks.
* Industry averages sourced from the World Steel Association indicators 2020 data.
** Energy intensity includes all energy and fuel sources consumed. GHG intensity includes all Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and estimated Scope 3 emissions from “upstream” scrap metal recycling and sourcing operations to our steel mill.
In 2020 Schnitzer upgraded the carbon injection system at our steel mill to allow for more precise carbon input amounts when melting recycled ferrous metal. This increased precision results in lower emissions and less waste generated during this process.