Sustainability Principles

Minimizing and Managing Waste

Keeping materials out of landfills is a critical benefit of Schnitzer’s business model, and we aim to achieve the highest beneficial use of all by-products generated by our operations.

For example, a by-product of the metal shredding process is a non-metallic material known as automotive shredder residue (ASR). ASR is a mixture of materials such as seat cushions, insulation, rubber, glass, foam, and plastics. When possible, we send ASR for beneficial reuse as alternative daily cover (ADC) for landfills. ADC is applied at the end of each day to the active portion of landfills to protect wildlife, minimize dust, deter pests, control odors, and isolate wastes. As many landfills traditionally use topsoil as daily cover, using ASR effectively conserves topsoil and prevents the environmental impacts associated with topsoil mining. ASR is also more compactable than soil, which means that its use conserves landfill space. In Fiscal Year 2019, 94 percent of ASR generated by our operations was beneficially used as ADC.

At the same time, we are reducing the amount of ASR we generate through innovations in our joint product plants—Learn more here. New sustainable technologies allow us to extract additional components from non-ferrous raw material, increasing the value we capture and decreasing process waste volumes.

Process Waste Generated for Beneficial Reuse1(Metric Ton)
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  • 1 This graph shows normalized values against the sum of metric tons of finished steel sold, ferrous scrap shipped, and non-ferrous scrap shipped.