Reducing Waste with repurposedMATERIALS

Partner post by Damon Carson of Repurposed Materials


From trimmings and remnants to leftovers and rejects in manufacturing, changes in components or ingredients, or unsold products, the list goes on and on of materials that are disposed by manufacturers.


While manufacturers are concerned with quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the problem of waste management becomes increasingly complex as they also are tasked with protecting the environment.


If you’ve watched the trucks hauling debris away from a manufacturing facility, you have some idea how much waste they produce. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to be concerned about how much trash is being generated in the United States today – about 292 million tons according to the EPA. Picture a train, 2,920,000 cars long, stretching nearly one and a quarter times around the world, hauling off the nation’s waste.


Manufacturers can play a big part in the reduction, as well as the management, of waste. And they don’t have to undertake big measures to make a contribution to landfill diversion.


The ingenuity of a “repurposing” leader is showing manufacturers how to save money while also preventing unnecessary waste.

A company called repurposedMATERIALS is helping industries across the nation reduce their environmental impact by finding a second life for a surprising number of items. Here are few of repurposedMATERIALS’ creative applications of used materials that are pertinent to manufacturers:

  • Tires from heavy machinery are cut in half and used livestock troughs

  • Railroad rails, painted bright yellow, are used as safety curbs to keep forklifts and other wheeled machines from damaging warehouse walls

  • Polyiso insulation is used to keep buried water and sewer lines from freezing

{Pictured right--repurposed court flooring to become a wall at a gym}


“We all have a part to play in protecting our environment,” said repurposedMATERIALS owner Damon Carson. “It makes sense environ mentally and economically. In the manufacturing process, about one to two percent of products are rejected by quality control. Additionally, nearly every manufacturing process results in trimmings, cutoffs, remnants…A lot of that material has a use somewhere. Giving materials a second life keeps them out of the landfill, which can come with surprising cost savings.”


For half a century, the solution to the waste problem has been recycling. But recycling involves the reprocessing of materials. It uses energy, another kind of waste. It’s expensive. And it’s inefficient.


For those reasons, recycling ranks just above ‘waste-to-energy’ (i.e. burning) on the waste hierarchy. Recycling keeps a portion of the junk out of the landfill. But is there some way to more efficiently reduce industrial waste?


Carson believes the answer is ‘yes,’ and the solution is not recycling. It’s “repurposing.”


Rather than melting, shredding, chipping or grinding – the recycling process – repurposedMATERIALS finds new uses for materials in their current form.


“If something is obsolete to the primary user, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value somewhere,” Carson said. “If you find yourself saying ‘I can’t use this. What am I going to do with it?’ that’s where we come in.”

Carson challenges those in every industry to consider if there are “repurpose-able” options for their obsolete materials before simply banishing them to the landfill.


“It makes sense environmentally and economically,” Carson said. “Giving materials a second life keeps them out of the landfill, which can come with surprising cost savings.”


Repurposing is at the intersection of affordability and sustainability. For the one getting rid of waste, there may be a savings over paying to dispose of the material. And for the one utilizing repurposed material over a primary-purpose product, there is typically a savings of 50 to 75%.


“We adhere to the belief ‘It is not waste until it is wasted,’” Carson said. “If you can avoid paying for disposal, and you can keep it out of the landfill, it’s a win-win.”


Carson pointed out not all items that become obsolete are damaged or worn out.


“When I started 10 years ago, we focused on ‘used’ materials,” he said. “But as we got into the industry, we realized that ‘waste’ in corporate America is anything businesses don’t want. Sometimes it’s used materials, but often times it’s ‘off-spec’ materials. It’s something that’s not the right color, isn’t popular anymore, has become a little outdated…whatever. There may be a host of options for someone to repurpose what another person can no longer use.”


When it comes to disposing of materials, whether they be unused excess products, or used materials, Carson said he can help contractors find a second-life purpose for those items.


“Your options are the trash truck or the repurposed materials truck,” Carson said. “One truck is going to take it and bury it. The other truck is going to give it a second life.”


For advice on repurposing materials, contact Carson by telephone at 720-615-0281, or by email at damon@repurposedmaterialsinc.com.


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