Strategic Materials has been a familiar name in glass recycling for over a century; in fact, the company got its start in 1896 as the Bassichis Company. Eventually, it was purchased by Allwaste Recycling, and it continued to grow and innovate. Over the decades, Strategic Materials purchased many regional glass recyclers and became the first recycled glass processor with a nationwide reach. In 1994, parent company Allwaste spun off Strategic Materials, and it became an independent company. According to the Glass Packaging Institute’s North American Glass Recycling (Processor) List, Strategic Materials has indeed become the leading glass recycler in North America, with nearly 50 plants located in the United States and Canada.
Recycling Earth’s Resources through Team Work
Glass is made from all-natural sustainable raw materials. Glass is also 100% recyclable and can be recycled infinitely without loss in quality or purity. There are substantial environmental benefits associated with recycling glass, including energy savings.
Strategic Materials prides itself in knowing that its corporate foundation is based on saving natural resources by recycling glass and plastic. It strives to do so by being the “most efficient provider” of recycled materials to industrial markets. The company also has as a core value the goal of investing in its employees and recognizing that the company’s success depends on team work and customer support.
Joining NERC as an Advisory Member is a way for the company to promote recycling and its core values to new audiences. “Recycling is facing some tough times,” Curt Bucey, Executive Vice President, Strategic Materials, stated. “Markets continue to be down. With the rise of single-stream recycling, there is growing concern over glass contamination. Strategic Materials is positioned to assist companies and communities to address these challenges. Together we can find solutions to improve glass and other materials recycling.”
A Diversity of Markets
Strategic Materials is capable of processing most types of glass, including: bottle, plate, automotive, colored, pharmaceutical, soda lime, and borosilicate.
Once processed, recycled glass can be used to manufacture an array of products—containers, fiberglass, highway beads, glass abrasives, decorative glass, glass fillers, and other specialty glass. Through technological innovation, a strong knowledge base, and employee dedication, Strategic Materials has the capabilities to provide glass that can fulfill any industry specification.
Strategic Materials also sells recycled plastic resin through its NexCycle Division.
Lean Fundamentals at Work
The Strategic Materials Operating System (SMOS) is built on a broad application of lean fundamentals and Six Sigma tools. Strategic Materials uses these principles to drive its business success and maintain a competitive advantage. The company’s SMOS consists of 12 elements that measure its production system, management system, and organizational design, ultimately focusing on both application and human interaction.
The foundation of the SMOS is to focus on “standard work” in company operations: its operators and processes, including preventative maintenance and 5S (a method to engage people through the use of 'Standards' and ‘Discipline'). Improved best practices are retained and then incorporated in other plants. Virtual metrics and tracking are employed to improve information availability and accuracy.
Strategic Materials also has a goal to train and certify more Lean Excellence Blackbelts. These efforts focus on Lean Strategy and methodology—Excellence in Product, Process, People and Customer, as well as suppliers and external partners. In its efforts to sustain Lean Culture and pursue excellence, the SMOS incorporates a goal of developing more formal mentoring and coaching within Lean Six Sigma (a set of techniques and tools for process improvement). It also pledges to integrate customers and suppliers into the operating system.
Glass at a Crossroads
Around the country glass recycling has sparked numerous discussions. As commodity prices across the recycling spectrum have fallen, so too has glass. With tight markets, quality concerns are on the rise. Issues around glass contamination in single stream recycling systems—glass shards in paper and other materials, as well as paper contamination in glass—have been increasing. Also, end markets for glass are limited in many parts of the country.
Glass remains an important component of consumer packaging. Strategic Materials is well positioned to address the contamination and market issues now being faced in glass recycling. Through improving technologies and processing, the company can continue to meet the needs of recyclers and glass product manufacturers.