Blog Archives

August 24, 2023

K2 Castings Featured in Metals Recycling Magazine

Tom Stanek

metals recycling coverReaders of this blog know we’re advocates for regular shredder maintenance. In the July/August issue of Metals Recycling, Ken McEntee interviews several people in the industry about this very topic.

In his well-researched piece, “Wear Parts Awareness,” McEntee discusses what are wear parts, product improvements over the last 15 or so years, and why inspection and maintenance are essential. He also covers buying wear parts (know your vendor!) as well as last year’s tariff exclusion on shredder parts from China.

But, back to shredder maintenance. As quoted in McEntee’s piece, shredder operators run wear parts as long as possible — which reduces shredder efficiencies and profitability.

My advice that I share with readers: “set your benchmarks for shred density, metals recovery rates and ferrous tons per hour. Schedule your maintenance to stay within those limits.”

You can find the July/August issue at the Metals Recycling website. You can also subscribe to print issue, which is free!

August 24, 2023

Copper Industry Experts: U.S. Must Retain Its Scrap Material versus Exporting

Tom Stanek

ISRI 2023 featured a moderated panel discussion, “Spotlight on Copper.” Panelists included John Gross, John E. Gross Consulting, and publisher of The Copper Journal; David Schilberg, Metal Buyer, Prime Materials Recovery; and Matt Bedingfield, President of Recycling, Wieland N.A. Recycling.

John Gross led the discussion with a presentation of detailed charts. The U.S. is seeing a resurgence in copper recycling – as well as secondary smelting facilities being built.

Global competition for copper will increase, with China indicating that they plan on increasing their import of the material. According to Gross’ data, China is the scrap market. China imports 32% of the world’s scrap – while the U.S. exports 18%.

The Copper Journal - Copper Exports

Figure 1: © The Copper Journal

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January 31, 2023

Manufacturers Use Recycled Aluminum, Copper, to Meet Sustainability Goals

Tom Stanek

Global manufacturers have set ambitious targets for using recycled materials to meet sustainability goals. According to Boston Consulting Group, Coca-Cola wants to use 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030; General Motors wants to increase its share of sustainable materials to 50% or more this decade. (Source)

For a company like Coca-Cola, using recycled aluminum for its beverage cans makes sense: the material requires about 5% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum, plus aluminum can be recycled infinitely.

Nespresso is another company using recycled aluminum to meet sustainability goals.

Nespresso Coffee Capsules: 80% recycled aluminum


© Nespresso

Nespresso, a B-Corp owned by Nestlé, has always focused on reducing waste and reusing product materials.

In 1991, the company created a recycling program that allowed its customers to return used coffee capsules – either to a Nespresso store or by mailing them in – versus tossing them in the trash. (In fact, the current coffee machines have mechanisms that eject the used capsules into a built-in holding container.)

In 2020, Nespresso announced the launch of its first coffee capsules made using 80% aluminum. Today, the entire coffee line incorporates recycled aluminum, and the company’s recycling efforts include 100,000 collection points worldwide for the capsules.

In addition, the company is the co-founder of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative, which is focused on the “responsible production, sourcing, and stewardship in the global aluminum value chain.” (Source)

To learn more about the company and its environmental commitment, visit:

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January 6, 2023

Consumer Products Incorporate Recycled Steel to Support Environmental Sustainability

Tom Stanek

From food products touting “made with 100% renewable energy” to clothing items made from recycled plastic, consumer products manufacturers now proudly proclaim their stewardship of the environment via their sustainable manufacturing processes.


Vermont Coffee: Roasted with 100% renewable energy

Environmental sustainability isn’t new: recycling scrap metal is the forerunner of the current movement. And today, metal recyclers are just as “earth friendly,” with processes that use less energy and generate fewer pollutants.

Recycled material is vital to our supply chain. U.S. steelmakers, for example, rely on recycled iron and steel to produce new steel. In 2019, U.S. steel mills consumed more than 60 million metric tons of the recycled material to produce 87 metric tons of steel. (Source: ISRI)

Producing new material from recycled scrap provides many environmental benefits: Using recycled material requires 60% less energy and reduces CO2 emissions by 58% when compared to producing steel from virgin materials. (Source: ditto)

When you think of steel, however, you generally picture steel beams, plates, tubing, etc. – the heavy material used for buildings, bridges, roads, signage, industrial products, etc. or perhaps vehicles and appliances.

But you may not be aware that more of the products we use every day contain recycled steel – and that manufacturers are touting their use of the material as a way to meet their environmental sustainability goals.

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August 29, 2022

Trends in Ferrous Recovery: Roll Screens

Tom Stanek

K2’s new line of recycling stars installed © K2 Castings

Our mantra has always been, “Wear Tough, Runs Long.” Whether times are tough or not, costs matter. We’re now bringing that same focus to plastic wear parts.

As the owner or operator, you’re constantly tasked with doing more with fewer people, stretching maintenance periods, and looking for the most competitive prices.

You also have to keep on top of trends and technology changes that improve efficiencies. With advances in single stream municipal recycling, larger scrap yards are now experimenting with roll screens for improved ferrous recovery.

Our customers in the recycling space are beginning to work with roll screens in sizing non-ferrous and fluff for the processing side of their operations. Roll screens have a major advantage due to their ease of adjustability in dealing with compressible products.

As with everything in metals recycling, adapting technologies used elsewhere has its drawbacks too.

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June 13, 2022

The Start of Metal Recycling and Its Current Impact: WW2 Scrap Drives

Tom Stanek

Scrap Metal Drive WWII — Courtesy of

Legend has it that one of the first contracts the U.S. Continental Congress penned was for muskets, which were to be used in the Revolutionary War effort. The Founders then penned another for gathering the scrap metal needed to help supply the craftsmen that made the muskets.

Revolutionary War muskets (or long guns) were actually made from wood with metal parts, which included the steel bayonets.

However, it stands to reason that the newly created Congress pushed for weaponry and other war items to be manufactured from recycled material whenever possible: the fledging United States was cash strapped.

According to information at Recycle Nation, George Washington urged the reuse of worn chains from frigates, while Paul Revere advertised for scrap metal of all kinds.

The American Civil War also saw collection for recyclable materials for both the North and South. People donated church bells, steeples, pots and pans – anything that could be used for the war effort.

But other than wars, when the need for metal was great, Americans didn’t consistently recycle metal goods. In fact, when World War 2 began, an “estimated 1.5 million tons of scrap metal lay useless on U.S. farms – enough to build 139 battleships weighing 900 tons each, 750,000 tanks 18-27 tons each, or countless airplanes, weapons and other materials.” (Source)

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December 14, 2021

Navigating the Current Economic Cycle:
From Peak to Bottom to Recovery

Tom Stanek

Financial data on a monitor,Stock market data on LED

The term “commodity super cycle” is something I’ve been hearing regularly. Most metal recyclers believe we’re in a super cycle; I wanted to know how business owners can navigate this type of cycle, as well as how it plays out from peak to wind down.

I turned to my colleague, David Hunter. A 48-year financial market veteran, David’s experience includes managing global portfolios and equity pension funds, as well as market forecasting.

Tom: Are we in a commodity super cycle?

DH: First, let’s define it. A super cycle is a cycle that is unusually long in duration and very extreme in bottom to top price movement, far beyond what is seen in normal cycles. For example, I believe we are in the last decade of an economic super cycle, which I define as the period between two depressions, the last being the Great Depression of the 1930s and the next depression being one that I expect to hit in the 2030s. Within a super cycle are many shorter economic cycles with upturns and recessions.

Right now we are hearing a lot about a commodity super cycle because after decades of flatness, commodity prices are beginning to break out and show major price strength. I think it is premature to say we have entered a commodity super cycle because I expect a sharp economic downturn in the second half of 2022 to send commodity prices back down — and down sharply. All sectors of the global economy will be hit hard by this downturn, including commodities.

There will be a strong recovery beginning sometime in 2023 fueled by massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. It will be focused on infrastructure, and we’ll see similar expansion across the globe. Unlike recent recoveries, this one will not be led by the consumer. Rather, it will be an industrial-led recovery.

As a result, demand for commodities will surge and remain strong through the decade. This will drive commodity prices ever higher for several years. We will see prices of all commodities soar to levels few can imagine today. This will be the commodity super cycle.

As I like to say, thinking the commodity prices go straight from here into that super cycle is the equivalent of standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and looking at the North Rim and thinking it is just a short walking distance away because one failed to account for the canyon that lies between the two rims. The same is true of commodities. There is a big canyon in the form of a global bust that lies between the current strong commodity boom and the big commodity cycle that will follow the bust.

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August 11, 2021

98 Inch Shredder End Disk Caps in Stock

Tom Stanek

K2 Castings has a supply of alloy steel, 2-hole end disk caps for 98104 shredder rotors in stock.  These heavy duty caps are for high output rotors.   If your machine runs a beveled end disk for the extra wearing cap, you may be able use these protective wear caps.  Contact K2 Castings for details.

July 15, 2021

When Is It Time to Change Shredder Hammers?

Tom Stanek

shredder hammers

When do you know it’s time to change your scrap metal shredder hammers?  What does it mean to “change” hammers?

Changing hammers refers to both replacing hammers with new, as well as “flipping” or “turning” hammers to another side to expose a fresh leading edge, or rotating hammers to a new position on the rotor.

Change — swap new for used casting

Shredder Hammer change

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May 18, 2021

Metal Casting “Lightweighting” Trends: Impacts for Automotive Recycling Yards / Shredders

Tom Stanek

metal-recycling - lightweighting

Andrew Halonen of Mayflower Consulting presented at the AFS Metalcasting Congress 2021 about the trends of reducing weight in metalcastings (aka “lightweighting”).

This topic is of interest to the metal recycling industry in particular. As vehicle designers work to reduce weight in order to meet federal and state fuel economy guidelines – as well as reduce vehicle manufacturing costs – fewer ferrous casted parts will be needed.

Although more manufacturers are incorporating lightweighting into their designs, the changeover is still met with some resistance. Halonen cited four reasons: Cost, system over component, changing the supply chain, and other material innovations.

Once a manufacturer decides to change the material makeup of a part – for example, moving from aluminum to an aluminum alloy or other material – the manufacturer is forced to seek out new suppliers. Vetting new suppliers and their facilities and processes is costly and time-consuming.

And, while a manufacturer may redesign one part to be lighter, other parts are redesigned to incorporate more steel or iron depending on load, wear, function, etc. – negating the overall weight savings.

In one example, Halonen compared the 2019 Mustang Convertible with the 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 Convertible. Both vehicles feature the same platform – yet in 50 years, only 11 pounds have been shaved off the weight!


© Andrew Halonen, Mayflower Consulting

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