Skip to Main Content
(Press Enter)

Emissions Reduction

Over the past five years Schnitzer has taken a leadership position within the metals recycling industry with the deployment of best available control technologies for air emissions generated by metal shredding activities. Our efforts included extensive source testing, engineering, and commissioning state-of the-art control and treatment systems, fast-tracking capital investments to capture, treat, and eliminate the process emissions from our four major shredding facilities.

On our largest throughput shredders, we are installing enclosures with regenerative thermal oxidizers to treat volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOC treatment protects local air quality by reducing the potential for ground-level ozone formation and significantly decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. By enclosing our shredders and designing control and treatment systems in a manner consistent with U.S. EPA protocols, we are able to capture more than 95 percent of the emissions produced during the shredding process.

reduction in process emissions from first system installed, compared to fiscal 2019.

Invested more than
since 2016 in emissions reduction and air quality control technology equipment.

Our Progress on shredder Emissions Control Systems

Since 2016 we have invested more than $56 million to deliver state-of-the-art emissions control systems at our shredder facilities. Fiscal 2021 progress and expected fiscal 2022 progress on each of these projects is highlighted below:


System has eliminated approximately 8,000 mtCO2e since start-up.

Fully commissioned and operational at the end of fiscal 2021.

Under Construction

System is estimated to eliminate more than 7,800 mtCO2e annually.

Upgrades to the existing enclosure and particulate matter control system are underway. Commissioning and initial start-up operations are scheduled for fiscal 2022.

in design

System is estimated to eliminate more than 6,200 mtCO2e annually.

Designing full emissions control, VOC treatment, and acid gas scrubbing systems.

In Design

System is estimated to eliminate more than 3,600 mtCO2e annually.

Designing full emissions control, VOC treatment, and acid gas scrubbing systems.

in design

Designing an enclosure and particulate matter emissions control system.

in exploration

Exploring island infrastructure resiliency, electricity grid stability, and renewable energy technology systems to determine project feasibility.


Our efforts to reduce emissions extend beyond our processing activities to include combustion emissions associated with fuel consumption at our operations. In an effort to improve fuel efficiency of equipment, we have invested more than $79 million since 2016 to upgrade frontline equipment, such as our material handlers, loaders, dump trucks, and forklifts.

Accounting for roughly one quarter of our total energy footprint, reducing equipment fuel use represents an exciting opportunity for improvement across our operations. Switching to low-carbon fuel alternatives, including electrification of both on- and off-road assets, is essential to achieving our emissions reduction targets.

Achieving Net Carbon-Free Electricity

In 2021, for the first time in our Company’s history, Schnitzer’s aggregate power mix represented sourcing of 100 percent net carbon-free electricity.

By investing in and supporting community-focused green power purchase programs, we are actively strengthening grid stability and resiliency and supporting the use of affordable power from renewable, carbon-free, or low-carbon sources within our communities.

Moving forward, we are exploring the use of advanced battery energy storage systems and similar on-site energy solutions to support continued availability of carbon-free energy options.

Our Energy Mix

Pie chart showing Schnitzer's energy mix

Our Power Mix

Pie chart showing Schnitzer's power mix

* Includes REC purchases and utility green tariffs

Partnering with Local Government to Reduce Emissions and improve Air Quality

In 2021 Schnitzer’s Providence, Rhode Island facility, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, was awarded grant funds through the U.S. EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). The DERA program seeks to protect human health and improve air quality by reducing emissions from diesel engines. Grant funds administered to Schnitzer through this program were used toward the purchase of a high-efficiency, hybrid materials handler that replaced three older, less efficient pieces of equipment.

Our efforts to upgrade to new equipment illustrates Schnitzer’s commitment to sustainability. In combination with our own investments throughout the New England area, we have reduced the total number of assets in use from eleven to just five. Our new equipment requires significantly less fuel to operate and results in emissions reduction that improves local air quality."

– Michael “Vern” Jones
Northeast Regional Asset Manager

Our Energy Footprint

Bar chart showing Schnitzer's yearly energy footprint (absolute and intensity) from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2021

Our Emissions Footprint

Bar chart showing Schnitzer's yearly emissions footprint (scope 1+2 absolute and intensity) from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2021

Supporting BART’s Efforts to Launch
a More Sustainable Fleet

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system launched a plan to decommission more than 600 of its oldest train cars, many of which have been in use since the early 1970s. Upon decommissioning, these cars will travel to Schnitzer’s Oakland, California metals recycling facility for dismantling. Recycling the 15 tons of steel, 6 tons of aluminum, and 1 ton of copper from the cars will support future infrastructure and transportation projects while allowing BART to transition to a more sustainable fleet, reducing its carbon footprint and improving local air quality.

Partnerships to Address Scope 3 Emissions

Engaging Our Supply Chain

Our suppliers of both goods and services represent an essential link in Schnitzer’s value chain. We rely on recycling suppliers to sell us end-of-life vehicles, appliances, and other metal materials; heavy industrial equipment suppliers for tools we use to process metals like shears, cranes, bulldozers, dump trucks, and forklifts; and rail companies, ship owners, and port operators to transport our recycled materials to mills, smelters, and foundries in the U.S. and around the globe.

At Schnitzer our teams engage extensively with suppliers on sustainability topics including environmental footprints, climate change risks, responsible working conditions, anti-corruption, and ethics and compliance.

We also partner with manufacturers and major retailers who produce and sell household products to achieve sustainability-related recycling and waste-reduction goals.

For example, our Recycling Services team helped one of our major retail customers develop a better way to package, ship, and recycle expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. Our team utilized our network of portable balers to compress the EPS foam into solid blocks, which was then used to make insulation and new packaging products. Through this program we have processed, repurposed, and diverted from landfills 89,000 pounds of EPS to date.

Measuring to Minimize: Reducing Emissions from Overseas Shipping Exports

In quantifying Scope 3 emissions from our overseas shipping activity, Schnitzer engaged with one of our bulk cargo vessel exporters to review their Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI). EEOI measures operational work efficiency, also known as transport work, calculated as the amount of CO2 emitted per one unit of cargo carried for each nautical mile. This voluntary measure, introduced by the International Maritime Organization in 2009, is calculated based on a vessel’s operational data and offers a comparison between the same ships on the same trade, or between trades.

Utilizing vessels with lower EEOIs for an appropriate voyage can decrease the carbon footprint of a given trip. Additional emissions reductions—as much as 50 percent—can result from minimizing ballast days, or the distance a ship travels empty from its previous discharge port to its next load port.

Our Energy Mix

Our Power Mix

Our Energy Footprint

Our Emissions Footprint