The container shipping and transportation industry is committed to moving towards a decarbonized future. This vision is shared by the UN’s International Maritime Organization, which has set a goal to cut sector carbon emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, with the ultimate goal of eliminating these emissions altogether.
TRAC has been taking a proactive approach to adopting sustainable fleet management, with a main focus on upgrading and greening its fleet through fleet modernization initiatives, such as the TRAC BlueEdge Refurbishing Program. However, not all chassis are good candidates for refurbishing to like-new condition. Chassis that do not meet our standards for refurbishment have to be decommissioned.
Giving New Life to The Decommissioned Chassis
Each intermodal chassis represents roughly 5,000 to 8,500 pounds of metal and rubber components. As a company with an 180,000-chassis fleet across key intermodal markets in the U.S., TRAC had a need to decommission a certain number of chassis annually, which helped drive its comprehensive recycling program.
In 2017, TRAC began partnering with Schnitzer Steel, a global leader in metals recycling, as well as local scrap dealers, to establish the most efficient and sustainable recycling process across its fleet in all intermodal locations across the United States.
Recycling 99% of Chassis Metal and Components
TRAC’s chassis are routinely inspected for readability and safety, upgraded to feature radial tires and LED lights or enrolled in the BlueEdge chassis refurbishing program to restore them back to like-new conditions. Those that do not meet the safety and quality criteria are decommissioned and recycled.
– Tires & Rims
The process begins with the TRAC team removing the chassis rims and tires, which are then inspected for wear and tear. A significant portion of the tires are retreaded – a process that results in a 70% reduction in carbon footprint versus producing a new tire. Low-quality tires are picked up by TRAC’s local scrap dealers and sent to recycling plants. Steel rims are recycled separately, while most tires are transformed into a crumbed rubber and used for the production of rubberized asphalt, playground flooring, welcome mats, and other products.
– Chassis Frame and Axles
The remainder of the chassis is then collected by TRAC’s recycling partner – Schnitzer Steel. Through Schnitzer’s advanced wire chopping and metal recovery operations plastic wire coverings are removed and landfilled, and high-quality, clean, copper and aluminum wire chops are recovered for re-use by smelters and foundries. Any plastic (which is minimal) is removed and landfilled or left on when sending out for recycling and melted. Each year, TRAC Intermodal recycles 20 million pounds of chassis metal and 5 million pounds of tire rims.
This year, TRAC partnered with Schnitzer to finalize a major recycling project involving chassis axles, a byproduct of its fleet modernization and chassis upgrade initiative. Nearly 20,000 axles were removed from remanufactured chassis, with each axle weighing 2,000 pounds, resulting in 33 million pounds of recycled metal.
The responsible recycling of metal is one of the most powerful environmental conservation strategies. Producing new steel from recycled ferrous metal requires 74 percent less energy and 40 percent less water, and reduces CO2 emissions 58 percent compared with producing steel from virgin materials (i.e. iron ore, coal, and limestone). These recycled metals can then be used to produce a range of new metal products such as new containers and the chassis and axles that move them around the world.
TRAC has made steady progress in its chassis recycling and decommissioning program. Working with our partners, we remain committed to building on these early efforts to help reduce TRAC’s CO2 footprint and make sustainable fleet management practices a hallmark of how we do business.