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Waste management is STILL a business decision.

It's been 21 years since the Environmental Protection Agency was established to formulate and enforce legislation that would guard America's ecology. in the more than two decades since its inception, the agency has written, rewritten, enforced and reinforced such a myriad of rules and regulations covering land, air and water that even some of the biggest and most progressive U.S. companies have sought protection from our guardian of the environment. Creation of the EPA in the '70s did as much to shape the way that American industry conducts its business as the onslaught of foreign competition did in the 1980s.

You can bet that neither are going to go away soon.

While new rules governing air and water pollution are demanding, the big push in the foundry industry is on solid waste due to the rapidly escalating cost of disposal and the equally rapid decline in the number of disposal sites. This is becoming a particularly perplexing problem for U.S. foundries, which have historically been able to dispose of large amounts of spent materials at a fairly low cost.

How big a problem is it? it's huge, to say the least, according to Gary Mosher, AFS director of environmental affairs. Citing the results of a recent study conducted by the Society, Mosher points out that some 2100 foundries that employ more than 10 people and use sandcasting as their primary molding method disposed of nearly 9.5 million tons of materials in 1989 alone. A breakdown of the total shows that a little over 5.9 million tons were made up of spent mold and core sand, nearly 1.85 million tons of slag, and another 1.7 million tons were classified as emission control dust.

By sheer volume, mold and core sands present the biggest disposal challenge for foundries. But while some metalcasters have been accused of sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to solid waste, more and more progressive foundrymen are making the business decision to manage the problem while they still have the choice.

With this issue of modem casting, we kick off a series on reclaiming spent foundry sand. In this issue, as well as in upcoming months, this series of articles will emphasize practical information on reclamation designed to help foundries make intelligent choices on reclaiming, types of reclaimers as well as actual foundry experiences with justifying and implementing sand reclamation systems.

In many cases, reclaimed sand can be reused in the foundry or rendered nonhazardous, allowing for its disposal without additional charges. But reclamation isn't the only approach metalcasters are taking to face their used-sand challenge.

Another is beneficial reuse of sands. AFS, for example, is in the midst of a research project in cooperation with the state of illinois to determine the feasibility of using 800,000 tons of spent sand generated by the state's foundries each year. Some of the areas being explored are the use of the sand in building and paving materials such as cement, concrete and asphalt. Other uses are construction backfill,ground leveling, and roadbed and daily cover for landfills. Producing rock wool for insulation is yet another possibility.

Another approach to handling used sand was highlighted in the May 5 Sunday Chronicle, a Muskegon, Michigan, newspaper. in the article, writer Robert Burns details how 16 foundries, most of which are members of the Western Michigan Chapter of AFS, have banded together to solve their disposal problems. Together, they have formed the Resource Recovery Corporation of West Michigan and plan to establish a monofill site reserved for spent foundry sand and other residual materials. The reason? Since 1988 landfill tipping fees have risen from $3 to $24 per ton and between them the foundries use some 200,000 tons of sand annually.

The new organization is modeled after and is collaborating with the Process Recovery Corp., a cooperative of 37 iron, brass and steel foundries in southeastern Pennsylvania. According to the report, the Michigan foundries are planning a temporary five-acre site that eventually will be replaced with a permanent 33-acre landfill. Working with the Public Works Board, the participating Muskegon County foundries have so far saved more than $70,000 because the board offers the group a substantial discount in disposal fees. At the same time, the county is saving money because the spent sand is used by the landfill as daily cover.

All of these are good examples of the progressive ways American metalcasters are tackling their solid waste challenge. They have made the decision to manage the problem. Those waiting on the sidelines hoping that the problem just goes away may soon find that they don't have that choice. David P. Kanicki, Publisher/Editor
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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