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A Cellular Approach...to Recycling

“Our plant is set up in cells so that we can look at each load individually and re-arrange our processes to customize them to a specific material feed stream.” If it wasn’t for that last clause about “a specific material feed stream,” then that comment from Scott Johnson, president and CEO of Butler-MacDonald, Inc. (www.butlermacdonald.com; Indianapolis, IN) might sound like someone talking about their cellular manufacturing operation.

“Our plant is set up in cells so that we can look at each load individually and re-arrange our processes to customize them to a specific material feed stream.” If it wasn’t for that last clause about “a specific material feed stream,” then that comment from Scott Johnson, president and CEO of Butler-MacDonald, Inc. (www.butlermacdonald.com; Indianapolis, IN) might sound like someone talking about their cellular manufacturing operation. But in this case, it is cellular recycling, as people at the firm start by performing on-site chemical analysis of the materials received, then separating the various materials so that they can be transformed into raw material pellets that can go back into high-grade products, rather than something lower on the food chain, as can be the case when there are mixed polymers. Johnson reckons that the entire process—from analysis to shipping recycled pellets back to a Tier 1 supplier—can be done for 50 to 60% of the cost of virgin materials. “Recycling can be a lot more economical than many people in the automotive industry realize,” he says.