There are signs that auspicious times may lie ahead for metalworking operations. The general sentiment is that industrial environmental compliance will become more tightly regulated. There are also indications that steel mills, bolstered by government infrastructure spending, are ramping up production.
This intersection of increased demand for metal scrap and stricter compliance represents an incredible opportunity for metalworking companies. There is no better time to begin shifting your company’s perspective about metal scrap and spent fluids from “burden” to “bottom line benefit.” Future-proofing your operation to be compliant for tomorrow can actually pay off today.
With that in mind, here are 3 process improvements for the handling of metal scrap and spent fluids that will not only improve compliance, they will generate savings year after year.
1. Improve Metal Scrap and Fluid Separation and Metal Scrap Modification
Compliance Advantages: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency governs the generation and disposal of hazardous waste under Title 40 CFR, part 261 (Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste) and 279 (Used Oil Regulations). Metal scrap containing free flowing liquids is classified as hazardous waste.
Separating spent fluids from metal scrap not only reduces the handling and storage of hazardous metal scrap, it creates the opportunity to recycle and reuse cutting fluids. Establishing a pathway for fluid recycling eliminates the need to store spent fluids in containers onsite and risk water and ground contamination from leaks or spills. Fluid recycling also helps operations avoid potential wastewater haul-away liabilities.
Reducing the volume of scrap metal and separating fluids prior to recycling also reduces the amount of space and/or containers needed to store the metal scrap. This helps keep the facility clean and decreases safety hazards.
Bottom Line Benefits: Dry metal scrap earns a higher value—up to 25% higher—from metal scrap recyclers. Recovered cutting fluids can be reclaimed for recycling and reuse, which will reduce new fluid purchases (see more about this in the “Extend Cutting Life” section below). Furthermore, separating cutting fluids from metal scrap reduces the total weight of scrap material that needs to be hauled away.
Solutions: Wringers/industrial centrifuges spin metal chips using centrifugal force to remove cutting fluids. The fluid drains away from the chips—up to 98% of cutting fluids can be reclaimed for recycling and reuse. Several turning and chip processing systems are designed to pre-condition metal scrap to prepare it for the wringer/centrifuge. Crushers reduce the volume of turnings and bundles. Shredders reduce the volume of loose metal turnings to create flowable chips. Tramp metal separators remove bar ends and other tramp metals. Briquetters provide maximum volume reduction for the greatest haul-away savings and highest value from the recycler.
2. Extend Cutting Fluid Life
Compliance Advantages: Non-compliance fines often increase with the amount of waste generated. Extending the life of cutting fluids through filtration that allows the fluids to be recycled and reused will reduce the total volume of spent cutting fluids that needs to be safely stored, hauled away, treated and tracked through documentation. By decreasing the amount of spent fluids that are stored on the property, the risk of environmental contamination is reduced. Also, by controlling bacteria levels in the fluid to help prevent dermatitis, employee health and safety is improved.
Bottom Line Benefits: Fluid filtration systems not only lower new fluid purchases up to 75%, they lower haul-away and treatment costs. Automated systems that extend the life of cutting fluids also significantly reduce manual labor required to maintain sumps and fluid quality.
Solutions: Centralized coolant recycling systems automatically remove tramp oils and suspended solids from contaminated coolant, controlling bacteria, and adjusting fluid concentration for fluid recovery. Tramp oil separators automatically remove free-floating and mechanically dispersed tramp oils, bacteria, slime, inverted emulsions, and more from individual machine sumps, central systems, and wash tanks.
3. Revisit Industrial Water and Wastewater Treatment Practices
Compliance Advantages: Improvements to industrial wastewater practices contribute to environmental sustainability and help operations avoid fines by meeting POTW (Publicly Owned Treatment Works) discharge requirements.
Bottom Line Benefits: Many operations pay a liquid waste disposal company to haul and treat their wastewater. Industrial wastewater solutions can reduce fluid waste disposal as much as 99%. In cases where wastewater is repurposed and recycled, water expenses are also reduced.
Solutions: There are a wide variety of modular solutions including oil and water separation, ultrafiltration, ozone generation, and reverse osmosis that can be deployed to improve industrial water and wastewater processes. Having a clearly defined end goal, such as Zero Liquid Discharge, and a laboratory analysis of the industrial water will help determine what combination of solutions will best meet your needs.