One of my favorite movie trilogies from the 1980s is “Back to the Future,” which presented what at the time seemed like some pretty far-fetched ideas of what the year 2015 might look like. Time traveling DeLoreans and hoverboards aside, we have come a long way with technology since those movies first came out, not just as a society, but as an industry.
Robots, remote controls and GPS technology have revolutionized the way we perform many tasks, and manufacturers have found ways to make the jobs of demolition contractors and C&D recyclers more precise, safer and less labor intensive.
The article “No room for error,” which appeared in the January/February 2014 issue, explained how True-Line Coring and Cutting of Tampa used a remote-controlled demolition tool outfitted with a breaker to demolish three 150-foot silos and a 180-foot grain elevator at the Port of Tampa.
In this issue you will read about a grinding operation controlled by a remote that helped create efficiencies during a military housing demolition project in Missouri (See “Feeding frenzy” on p. 42).
You also will read about how robots, developed by ZenRobotics, are sorting wood and other materials from C&D debris in Finland in the article “A new frontier” on p. 24. Technologies like the ZenRobotics Recycler and other advanced sorting equipment are increasing the accuracy and amount of recyclables being captured from the mixed C&D stream, which leads to more end-product value.
And even GPS when used in certain applications like excavation can help improve the precision and speed with which an operator can dig by providing accurate data on the area being worked. “GPS guidance systems can have tolerances as small as two to three centimeters making them extremely accurate compared to relying on the operator’s skill level,” a Wikipedia entry on “GPS in the Earthmoving Industry” states.
Quality and efficiency improvements aren’t the only benefits of these technological advancements. They also reduce the risks. If an operator knows with certainty what is in the ground he is digging or can safely operate a breaker from several yards away, the less likely he is to develop an injury. Similarly, if robots can pick heavy debris off of a conveyor, then employees are saved from the strain it puts on their bodies.
The preceding examples are really just the tip of the iceberg. And manufacturers will continue to develop these technologies and incorporate them in their equipment. I wish I had the ability to take Doc’s Delorean into the future to see what innovations will be used in the demolition and C&D recycling fields 30 years from now.
Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is common flooring used in retail settings, and large retailers like Minneapolis-based Target and Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. have worked with flooring manufacturer Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to recycle their floors at locations across the United States.
Recently, Armstrong named Kroger as its 2013 Flooring Recycler of the Year. The award recognizes organizations that made significant environmental contributions by recycling VCT materials during demolition projects, resulting in waste reduction in landfill materials, transportation and energy, Armstrong says.
Kroger received this award, according to Armstrong, because of its commitment to waste reduction as demonstrated by its efforts to reclaim VCT from multiple stores throughout the country in 2013.
Kroger began recycling VCT flooring, removed during renovation of its grocery stores, nationwide in 2013 through Armstrong’s VCT Recycling Program. To date, the grocery store chain has reclaimed more than 1 million pounds of VCT material.
“Kroger is committed to achieving ‘zero-waste’ facilities and we are continually exploring new ways to achieve this,” says Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, director of sustainability at Kroger. “Our facility engineering teams across our family of stores were instrumental in working with Armstrong to implement the VCT Recycling Program.”
Getting with the program
Target has reclaimed more than 1.2 million pounds VCT from multiple stores throughout the United States in 2012 and earned the Flooring Recycler of the Year from Armstrong for its efforts that year. Target began implementing recycling of its VCT in 2011. Most recently, the company recycled more than 20,000 pounds of VCT from a Target store in Las Vegas.
Armstrong says its reclamation program for VCT is the first program of its kind to reclaim Armstrong VCT and qualifying competitive VCT flooring products from demolition and renovation projects.
Through the program, VCT flooring is recycled in a closed-loop, postconsumer stream with reclaimed material and is incorporated into new flooring products. Armstrong has regional recycling facilities in California, Illinois, and Mississippi.
Since 2007, Armstrong reports it has reclaimed and recycled more than 10 million pounds of postconsumer VCT worldwide, representing 5,000 tons of material diverted from landfill.
Armstrong’s VCT Recycling Program is available for jobs 8,000 square feet and larger. The company accepts several of its VCT flooring brands into the program as well as qualified VCT flooring from other manufacturers. Armstrong lists the following instructions on its VCT Recycling Program brochure available at www.armstrong.com/commercialflooring to establish eligibility for a VCT recycling project. The company has a step-by-step process for contractors to follow:
- Call 877-276-7876, option 2 for flooring, then 7 for recycling to be prequalified, and sign and return the Recycling Agreement.
- Approximately two to four weeks before demolition, specially labeled gaylord boxes will ship to the site.
- Remove furniture, partitions, gondolas and shelving, sweep up and dispose of debris.
- Remove old tile with a floor scraper and shovel into the gaylord boxes (Do not use excessive heat to remove tile.)
- Call 877-276-7876, option 2, then 7, to arrange for pickup.
- Attach the provided shipping labels to the gaylord boxes on any side and cover the top with stretch wrap.
Manufacturers also are recycling other types of flooring in great quantities across the country. Tile manufacturer Crossville Inc., Crossville, Tennessee, has diverted 40 million pounds of fired porcelain since launching its Tile Take-Back program and TOTO USA partnership. These recycling initiatives are based on the company’s proprietary process for recycling fired porcelain products, including postconsumer materials. Through Tile Take-Back, Crossville says it is able to recycle previously installed tile collected from its distribution network, as well as scraps that result from tile cutting during installation, sizing or sample creation.
Through its TOTO partnership, Crossville receives preconsumer-fired porcelain toilets that do not meet quality standards; prior to the partnership, these cast-offs were being sent to landfills for disposal.
All 40 million pounds of diverted material have been or will be recycled into feed stock to manufacture new tile, leading Crossville to maintain net waste consumption at its plants for a third consecutive year. Net waste consumption is achieved by using more waste than is created during production.
Between both Tile Take-Back and the TOTO USA partnership, Crossville says it achieved the following in 2013:
- ground and reused 7.7 million pounds of fired scrap produced at the company’s plants that would have previously gone to landfills;
- received and recycled 87,411 pounds of waste including scraps and post-consumer tile extracted from renovation projects; and
- received and recycled more than 7.3 million pounds of scrap porcelain from TOTO.
Since the Tile Take-Back launch in 2009, the company’s cumulative recycling totals include:
- nearly 18 million pounds of fired scrap produced at Crossville’s plants;
- more than 300,000 pounds of scrap and postconsumer tile; and
- 20.9 million pounds of scrap porcelain from TOTO USA.
Crossville officials state that the 2013 increase was the result of a higher volume of sanitaryware sent by TOTO, as well as more internally produced fired scrap resulting from the trend toward the popularity of larger and modular sizes achieved through cutting of field tile.
Tile Take-Back and the TOTO USA partnership are just two of many sustainable practices Crossville says it maintains companywide.
The Tile Take-Back program is Crossville’s answer to the major environmental problem facing the tile industry today: the recycling of fired tile.
Because Crossville says this program is beneficial throughout the industry, the company accepts postconsumer tile from other brands as well as projects not originating from Crossville.
In 2011, Crossville launched a partnership with sanitaryware manufacturer TOTO USA to receive and recycle that company’s fired porcelain refuse.
Today, there is recycled content in every square foot of porcelain tile produced by Crossville because of the harvested material from TOTO, reducing the need for raw materials for tile production, the company says.
Crossville, founded in 1986, says it is the first U.S. tile manufacturer to achieve the following:
- produce large format tile on site;
- manufacture tile with certified recycled content;
- develop the Tile Take-Back program for recycling fired porcelain tile;
- achieve certification of its waste recycling programs;
- achieve the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA’s) Green Squared certification for all of its U.S.-produced tile lines;
- distribute a complete line of large format, 3 millimeter-thin porcelain panels (Laminam by Crossville); and
- become a net consumer of waste.
More information on Crossville’s Tile Take-Back Program, as well as the company’s partnerships, is available at www.crossvilleinc.com
Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, answers questions about its Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT) Flooring Recycling Program in an exclusive Q&A available at www.CDRecycler.com/cdr0714-armstrong-vct-qa.aspx.
In Helsinki, Finland, a robot called ZRR (ZenRobotics Recycler) is enabling the recycling of construction and demolition (C&D) materials which, until now, was a difficult task for humans to perform. By banking on ZenRobotics Ltd., SITA Finland, a Suez Environnement subsidiary, based in Paris, that specializes in designing high-tech recycling robots, is betting on the green, smart and cooperative economy of the future.
Once upon a time, there was a robot that liked sorting waste. But not just any waste. It specifically liked sorting the type of waste that is difficult, or even dangerous, for humans to handle. This robot is known as the ZenRobotics Recycler and is the creation of a Finnish company that bears the same name, ZenRobotics Ltd.
The company, founded in 2007, and specializing in robotic recycling methods, was pleased with the arrival of ZRR, its very first creation. The company says the robot was intelligent, responsive, quick, thorough and indefatigable and able to extract raw materials from C&D debris.
Its viewing system and its artificial intelligence enable the robot to determine the nature of the material that passes in front of it on a moving belt, and to select the waste that has the greatest value from a recycling and recovery standpoint. Its pincers grab wooden, metal or stone items and steer them toward containers. ZenRobotics Ltd. says it found a great partner in SITA Finland.
Forming a partnership
This partnership between the two companies began in 2011, the year ZRR was born in Helsinki, Finland. It was the very place where the paths of ZRR creators and Suez Environnement crossed. While SITA is renowned for offering innovative solutions in the environmental field, the company says it is at least as famous for its propensity to form partnerships.
When SITA made a commitment to ZenRobotics, the primary goal consisted of testing ZRR’s capabilities on-site. Following successful tests, both parties officially announced the acquisition of two robots by SITA: a ZRR Heavy Picker and a ZRR Fast Picker in addition to the trial robot already on-site. The effectiveness of these robots, which are capable of extracting raw materials from C&D rubble in a safe way, was unprecedented, according to SITA. One year later, in September 2013, both parties signed a framework agreement to roll out ZRR systems worldwide.
When the partnership was sealed, Juho Malmberg, CEO of ZenRobotics, said, “This is a great day in ZenRobotics’ history. Suez Environnement, a global leader in waste management and recovery, has understood the benefits of our robotic recycling technology. Thanks to this worldwide framework agreement, both companies are now in pole position where new recycling technologies are concerned.”
The agreement aims to streamline the ZRR system ordering process for Suez Environnement’s subsidiaries, the company says.
If new analysis from London-based research firm Frost & Sullivan is any indication of the growth expected in the C&D recycling industry in Europe, then Helsinki, Finland-based ZenRobotics will be in a prime position to capitalize on it.
The report, titled “European Construction and Demolition Recycling Services Market,” finds that the C&D recycling market earned revenues of $18.75 billion in 2013 and expects this to reach $23.85 billion by 2020.
An estimated 25.9 percent increase in the volume of waste until 2020 is intensifying the demand for limiting landfilling. Environmental and land availability concerns apart, the report notes that rising landfill prices are brightening the prospects of market participants that provide sustainable and economically sound solutions for C&D waste management.
The growing volume of C&D debris has become a significant concern in Europe, according to the report. The C&D market in the region is governed by regulations regarding waste reduction, recycling and diversion of waste material resources away from landfilling. Therefore, the need to recycle C&D debris has prompted waste management companies to optimize collection systems and increase recycling volumes, the report surmises.
“Market development is strongly driven by the Waste Directive (2008/98/EC), wherein C&D waste must achieve a recycling target of 70 percent by 2020,” says Frost & Sullivan Energy & Environmental Research Analyst Monika Chrusciak. “Market revenues will also get a leg up from the future optimization of collection and recycling technologies.”
However, local legislation is not uniformly transposed despite strong European Union support for C&D recycling. Participants often are challenged by the misleading waste categorization and high recycling level indications. Dissimilar local interpretations lead to high variations in regional market development, which ultimately affect market dynamics and profitability.
Furthermore, the report notes C&D debris can be difficult and expensive to sort, collect and transport, as the material is highly heterogeneous and voluminous. These issues highlight the need for an integrated smart management solution that facilitates material recovery and related business economics, and may provide just the market for ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR) waste sorting system to thrive.
“The current lack of smart management solutions is affecting the recycled materials’ quality,” notes Chrusciak. “Hence, data regarding the quality and quantity of C&D waste material is crucial for long-term collaborations with final recycling companies.”
The analysis predicts Europe is expected to experience increased infrastructure development. The region is emerging from a downturn and building companies will be looking to optimize costs and use recycled aggregate as an alternative to costly primary material. These trends, along with greater green building development, bode well for the recycling services market, Frost & Sullivan states.
“The market is anticipated to continue growing as individual European governments, especially in Western Europe, are creating legal frameworks and encouraging the development of C&D recycling services,” observes Chrusciak. “Higher investments in these services will aid the optimal processing of recyclable waste and improve safety work standards as well.”
More information from the Frost & Sullivan report is available at www.environmental.frost.com.
A new revolution
The transaction turned the Helsinki facility into the most robotic C&D recycling facility in the word, according to SITA. ZRR sorts waste so thoroughly that the amount going to landfill or to incinerators is decreasing. In fact, thanks to ZRR, 12,000 metric tons of raw materials are retrieved every year.
The ZRR system specifically enables a facility’s yield ratio to increase from 70 to 90 percent, according to SITA. The ultimate goal is to exceed 95 percent recovery. Another strong point is the fact that ZRR can lift items that weigh up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms), while its capacity, which is calculated based on a cycle of 3 to 4 seconds and an item weight of between 4.4 to 17.6 pounds (2 to 8 kilograms), is around 10 metric tons per hour. If the plant allowed the robot to work for around 6,000 hours, the minimum capacity would be 12,000 metric tons per year and the maximum capacity 60,000 metric tons per year.
Christophe Cros, deputy chief executive officer of Suez Environnement in charge of the waste activities in Europe, explains the nature and the effects of a win-win partnership. “As a pioneer in the incorporation of innovative recycling technologies, Suez Environnement has supported ZenRobotics’ R&D since the beginning as a pilot customer,” he says. “We are now moving to a new stage involving the implementation of the ZenRobotics Recycler technology on an industrial scale.
“The construction and demolition waste recovery sector is booming, and is expanding at a rapid pace,” adds Cros. “The ZRR will enable an improvement in the sorting ratio.”
The implementation of this automatic sorting system provided an opportunity for Suez Environnement and ZenRobotics to test a new business model based on cooperation. ZRR is the prototype for these androids, which are described everywhere as the “next major industrial revolution,” Cros continues.
If, as Bruno Bonnell, the digital world and robotics specialist, says, “the intelligence provided to objects will result in the same technological and societal breakthrough as electricity or the Internet,” then we are entitled to see preliminary signs of that breakthrough in ZRR opening for business. Cooperation, intelligence and the green economy are the cornerstones of the new industrial revolution, which are gradually falling into place. The distributed capitalism suggested by economist Jeremy Rifkin is now within our reach.
The article was submitted by Paris-based Suez Environnement, www.suez-environnement.com.
|// Scrap Iron
RMDAS No. 1 Heavy Melt Steel Pricing
(Per Gross Ton for No. 1 HMS scrap)
// Stone and Aggregate Pricing
Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have declined by 67 percent. (Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
24th Annual Recycling & Organics Conference,
Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania,
717-236-0800 or www.proprecycles.org
CRRA 38th Annual Conference,
San Jose, Calif.,
California Resource Recovery Association,
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA),
301-585-2898, ext. 240 or wastecon.swana.org
Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference,
Recycling Today Media Group,
WHEN Recycling Expo,
Lee Trade Shows,
ISRI Gulf Coast Chapter Fall Meeting,
Lost Pines, Texas,
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., Gulf Coast Chapter,
Greenbuild International Conference and Expo,
U.S. Green Building Council,
BioCycle East Coast Conference 2014,
2014 Asphalt Sustainability Conference,
National Asphalt Pavement Association,
World Demolition Summit,
KHL Group and the European Demolition Association,