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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Today we are going to talk a little about the recycling of iron and steel plus the recycling of nonferrous metal. From an article in a recent Recycling Today newsletter, I found that even with China’s demand for mixed shredded grades tapering, auto shredder operators remain the volume kingpins for nonferrous scrap.

“The 20th century split between iron and steel scrap yards and nonferrous scrap recycling specialists continues to seem more distant, despite the turmoil in mixed nonferrous shredded grade markets caused by China’s selfimposed blockade.”

It seems each of the 10 largest companies listed in Recycling Today’s updated list of North America’s Largest Nonferrous Scrap Processors operates shredding plants. These yards get much of their ferrous and nonferrous material from smaller facilities.

In their survey of a number of companies, Recycling Today let them know they would not disclose the company’s exact volumes processed in 2018. However, generally each of the 20 firms surveyed handled at least 100 million pounds (50,000 tons) or more of nonferrous material annually. And most of the top 10 firms handled 500 million pounds (250,000 tons) per year – that’s a lot of material.

But this does not mean the shredding plants do all the work. Some plants without shredders take in recycled materials such as radiators, plumbing fixtures and pipes, used beverage containers (UBCs), and aluminum siding. Sounds a little bit like some of the things the Green Guy Recycling Services drop-off site also takes.

In the survey of the top companies taking in recycled metal materials, it found most regions of the country were represented. However, there was not a single company which covered the entire map.

This appears to be primarily because these companies operate on a more personal relationship with their providers. Even though one company listed having more than 120 recycling/materials yards, it still operated in just a limited number of states.

Although a number of mergers have taken place recently, it has not caused any of the firms listed earlier to disappear. While the owners and managers of the large companies, even with such mergers, tend to agree that volume numbers can be impressive, it is their small profit margins which are important to their survival in the future.

So don’t forget to recycle what unneeded/unwanted metals you have just laying around, including rusting old vehicles. Green Guy and junk yards will pay you for them, which could be handy with tax time coming up.

Till next week, do have an enjoyable and safe one…

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Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu