The metals industry continues to be at the forefront of the sustainability movement, driven by tight margins and an increasingly competitive landscape. “Sustainability” goes far beyond simply recycling waste materials or packaging, however. Instead, it’s a method for viewing one’s business practices and their impact on both the bottom line and the wider world.
Here, we explore three sustainability trends in the metals industry that we anticipate will continue to accelerate in the year ahead.
Packing Reductions and Innovations
Freight costs increased by 20-30% in 2020, and while it’s less likely we’ll see double-digit changes this year, that cost will continue to rise. The increasing costs of freight has been a leading driver for packing reductions and innovations in the metals industry.
Consolidation of packaging items, custom packaging solutions that eliminate the need for excessive waste, and choosing reusable packaging options such as wood, paper or metal can all slash expenditures on both freight and packaging.
This is a trend we have followed here at Three D Metals, as well. We regularly evaluate how we package and ship items to reduce the amount of packaging we use. Any packaging we do use is 100% recyclable.
We also offer tripod packaging, which allows more coils to be packaged per skid. Tripod packaging is ideal for customers who like small, wide width coils. This reduces product footprint on the shop floor as well as freight cost.
On-Site Recycling and Re-Use
The metals industry remains at the cutting edge of recycling and re-use efforts. The industry continues to look into ways to both improve the longevity of current resources and seek innovative ways to reuse waste materials and packaging to drive efficiencies in other areas.
For instance, at Three D Metals, we recycle 100% of our metal processing waste, and also offer a skid recycling program to re-use old skids returned by customers. When the skids can’t be used anymore, they are thrown into our furnace, which heats about 50% of our plant in the winter.
Most of our Ferrous Metals customers are also now shipped with metal cores, making them easier to recycle. Instead of throwing out a cardboard core, customers can simply throw the metal core in the hopper and reuse it.
Improved Processing Efficiencies
As we saw in 2020 with the pandemic and in early 2021 with the blockage of the Suez Canal, the global supply chain can be incredibly fragile. This is likely to inspire a trend for metals suppliers to focus on establishing (or re-establishing) more local partnerships and reassessing their supply networks.
Reducing the use of raw materials and improving processing and handling through new methods of automation and optimization will also be key.
Efficiencies can be found in every part of the way business is done in the metals industries. At Three D Metals, our commitment to sustainability began with the installation of a wind turbine at our headquarters. At 121 feet high, the turbine saves an estimated $21,000 a year in energy costs.
Metals supplies are critical to supporting the development of a more sustainable world. Innovative investments like these will only increase as demand grows across the globe.
More About Sustainability at Three D Metals
Discover more about our commitment to sustainability at Three D Metals: