As we near the end of August 2015, the National Materials Marketplace pilot has nearly wrapped up the initial data collection phase and has marched forward into analysis, synergy identification and the early stages of synergy facilitation. This positions us well to close out the pilot phase of the project in mid-September and launch a formal report with our results, learnings and path forward.
So far there are 140 material available listings in the marketplace from 20 out of 22 participants, totalling around 2.3 million tons/year of underutilized materials available for higher and better use. This figure alone demonstrates a tremendous opportunity for environmental, social and economic impact; and as a part of the final report, we’ll be conducting deeper analysis on potential impacts in each of these three areas.
Select, preliminary results from the initial round of materials analysis are summarized below. In addition to this, nearly all of the 140 materials available have been matched with some sort of reuse idea, which we’ll be sharing directly with participants over the next week or two.
Cement kiln Co-processing
Waste co-processing (pre-treatment and co-incineration) in cement kilns takes advantage of the high heat and long retention time already used in the cement production process. Out of all the materials that can be technically reused in the cement kilns, we have prioritized those that adhere to the “highest and best use” principle of our work. This includes many of the non-metallic mineral materials from aluminum industry, and organic by-products with high calorific value from chemical industry.
By-products from the chemical industry are generally reused in four ways: 1) reuse as it is 2) reuse after purification/treatment, 3) reuse the chemical property of the material in other applications, or 4) reuse of the heat value in the material. Many of the chemical materials in the marketplace fall under one or more of these categories, including: propanol heads (direct reuse), spent sulfuric acid (direct reuse or pH adjustment), methocel, resin oil, spent solvents, and lubricants (btu value).
One chemical and one sand/mining company have expressed interest via the marketplace software in reusing red mud (bauxite residual) as Phosphorus removal media and sand production additive, and are in the process to acquiring test samples. We are also working to identify interested parties – in particular, those with operations along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River – to reuse red mud as levee construction materials. Research from the EPA’s Region 6 office is also being leveraged for this idea.
Drums and Totes
Some participants have used shipping containers like totes and drums in the marketplace, and are in discussions to recondition and reuse them for their original purpose.
The steel offal from one auto industry company has caught great interest from multiple participants, all of whom are scoping reuse of these high quality materials directly in their production.
Fibrous material makes up a significant part of the packaging materials available in the marketplace. Our reuse idea is to work with a ceiling tile manufacturer to incorporate these materials into their ceiling products.
Below are four especially interesting materials available now in the marketplace. Visit http://marketplace.usbcsd.org to login and view these materials and more.
Natural Leather Scrap
Natural leather from footwear manufacturing component cutting. Good for direct reuse.
Crystalline silica is hard, chemically inert and has a high melting point. It is used for a wide range of applications, e.g. glass, casting, molds production, etc.
Off-spec unfinished and finished hardwood (mostly red and white oak) flooring.
HITEC Solar Salt
Mixture of water soluble, inorganic salts of potassium nitrate, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. It is a heat transfer medium for heating and cooling between 300-1100 F.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a global circular economy thought leader; leveraging education, business innovation and analysis to accelerate the transition from linear to circular systems. Their Circular Economy 100 platform brings together leading companies, emerging innovators and regions to work towards this end goal. The overlap between our efforts is clear, and we’ll be presenting our action-oriented project methodology to CE100 companies this October in Milan to explore how they can join the effort.
Our collaboration on Sustainable Materials Management with the US EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) is moving forward, and through this collaboration we’ll be involved in an upcoming workshop with G-7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency.
Scaling this project and our successes to the European Union is looking very likely, spearheaded by the WBCSD’s Global Network. We’ll be presenting the project via webinar to over 20 Global Network leaders across the EU in late August. We’ll also be presenting at a European Commission circular economy workshop in mid-September.