Thinking of scrap as a product can bring a new level of professionalism to a plant manager’s sustainability quest. Plant managers know the value of the scrap they produce, and typically dedicate one or more service providers to keeping plants clear of waste. An efficient, well-run production team follows strict procedures for capturing, segregating, consolidating and queuing scrap. Yet, many of today’s plant managers following the best of best practices still tend to manage scrap materials as a waste stream.
Fortunately, the new breed of forward-looking plant managers have stopped regarding scrap as mere waste and begun considering its full market potential instead. This turnaround in thinking benefits the environment as well as the bottom line because it can raise the pricing floor compared to strict commodity trading. Converting the scrap disposal management task into a product management mission is necessary if scrap is to evolve in value to both its generator and its buyer.
Scrap has been considered waste with residual value since the dawn of industry, and its potential as its own legitimate product line is ripe for exploitation. In traditional manufacturing, the main product is usually managed and marketed by someone else who is even located someplace else. On the other hand, the “waste-as-product” is produced and managed directly from the plant. Therefore, the plant manager that wants to “close the loop” must become a de facto product manager.