ELMHURST, ILL. - Return Logistics Inc. is beating the drum for recycling of industrial containers. The year-old Elmhurst company has set up a first-ever network involving plastic and steel drum manufacturers, fillers, reconditioners and shippers, to make sure that industrial containers are either reconditioned and reused, or disposed of properly.
``We have taken about a year to set up and customize this system,'' said Bill DeJong, a principal of the company. ``We have been taking back drums and containers since January, working mostly with 55-gallon drums, but with the ability to do down to 5-gallon pails if needs be.''
In the system, Return Logistics' contracts with container manufacturers and fillers to pick up the empty vessels at their plants, and transport them to any of 16 approved drum reconditioning companies nationwide for recycling.
So far Florida Drum Co., General Steel Drum Co., Nesco Container Corp., and Trilla Steel Drum Corp., are involved, along with a number of chemical and other filling companies.
``When a company uses whatever is in the drum for his business, he doesn't really care what kind of drum it is, or how it should be disposed of properly,'' DeJong said., ``All he wants is to get it off his loading dock. We pick it up and take it to a reconditioner.''
He said Return Logistics has contracted with the reconditioners to clean the drums thoroughly, and either return them to a manufacturer, grind them and sell the regrind into the post-industrial plastic market, or dispose of them in the most environmentally friendly way. No drums are landfilled.
``All of the reconditioning companies have been audited to make sure that they can handle the materials, and can clean the drums properly,'' he said.
The firm also maintains a database detailing the exact contents and composition of each participating company's drums.
The steel drums are shredded and returned for use in making more steel, he said.
``The plastic drums are either reground and sold for other purposes, or reused by the fillers. Most of our manufacturers are not using recycled plastic in their drums, due to the various requirements for their contents, but there are some starting to do coextrusions and other constructions using recycled plastics.''
DeJong said using the team approach results in the containers being recycled more cost effectively, and is less time-consuming work for the manufacturers and fillers.
``It also helps limit the liabilities of fillers by making sure the containers go back to correct recycling facilities.,'' he said.