Sustainability Principles

Energy Efficiency and Emissions Reduction

Abundant, clean, and carbon-free energy in our major operating locations reduces the emissions impact of our energy-intensive industrial processes. For example, approximately 68 percent of the energy we use is attributed to our steel manufacturing operation. Our mill’s location in McMinnville, Oregon enables us to consume electricity largely sourced from carbon-free hydroelectric power generated by the Columbia River Dam System. Likewise, a significant portion of our metals recycling business operates in the Pacific Northwest, which is also largely powered by hydroelectric and other carbon-free energy sources.

In Fiscal Year 2019, Schnitzer, for the first time, increased its carbon-free electricity power mix to 90 percent. We enrolled in the Portland General Electric’s Clean Wind and Green Source programs and San Jose Clean Energy’s TotalGreen service, and remain enrolled in similar services with several other Community Choice Aggregators in California.

A continuously improving equipment fleet

We also reduce our energy use by regularly maintaining and upgrading our mobile and fixed equipment, seeking replacements that offer improved fuel efficiencies. Roughly 21 percent of the energy we consume is fuel used for on-road transportation vehicles, off-road rolling stock, and metalworking equipment. In Fiscal Year 2019, we established a four-year program to replace high-run-hour pieces of front-line equipment, such as material handlers, loaders, hold trucks, and excavators. Schnitzer estimates that we will invest approximately $48 million between Fiscal Years 2019 and 2022 to upgrade hundreds of pieces of equipment to more fuel-efficient models.

Schnitzer estimates that it will invest approximately
$48 million
to upgrade our equipment,
to more fuel-efficient models.
(FY2019-FY2022)

As we replace and retool equipment, we ensure compliance with emissions regulations in each of our markets. For example, in California, we purchase EPA-certified Tier IV engines, which offer lower particulate emissions and smog-related emissions, for equipment to support our Oakland, California, shredder, as well as auto and metals recycling yards and Pick-n-Pull facilities in the region. We have also succeeded in converting all car crushers at Pick-n-Pull stores in California from diesel engines to electric models, and are working to make similar changes to car crushers elsewhere across the country. Currently, 58 percent of all our car crushers are electric.

Air quality compliance

Beyond GHG emissions, in Fiscal Year 2019 Schnitzer began a multi-year project to install enclosures and emission control systems on our shredders to improve air quality in the communities surrounding our shredders. Schnitzer has been working to install such emission control systems at its facilities in Everett, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California, for several years. Schnitzer’s next step will be to upgrade the Oakland emission control system and to complete design and installation of similar emission control systems at other shredding facilities. Some of these new projects will include installation of thermal oxidizers to treat volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC treatment protects air quality by both reducing the potential for ozone formation and significantly decreasing GHG emissions. Schnitzer has taken a leadership position within the metal shredding industry by properly quantifying air emissions associated with shredding operations and taking appropriate steps to reduce such emissions.

Schnitzer is also helping to prevent dirt, dust, and debris from impacting local air and water quality by washing and capturing the material off trucks that pass through our metals recycling yards. Custom wheel wash systems remove dirt and dust from trucks’ wheels upon exit from our shredding facilities in Oakland and Tacoma, thus reducing the volume of fine particles tracked onto surrounding roadways. We have also invested in paving projects on unimproved surfaces at some locations to further minimize “track-out” potential while also aiding in storm water management.

Reducing emissions across our value chain

Schnitzer has begun working with major retailers who supply scrap, such as used household appliances, to our metal yards to minimize the emissions associated with their transportation logistics. Before working with Schnitzer, one of our trade suppliers lacked a way to densify its shipments, meaning that it frequently delivered less-than-full truckloads of scrap material. Now, Schnitzer is working with the retailer on a pilot project to loan portable balers and compactor trucks to the supplier’s facilities, allowing for fewer and fuller truckloads — and less fuel required in transit.