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Case study

Schnitzer Steel Canada Ltd.

Reductions in GHG Intensity, 2014 – 2016, per tonne of throughput:

  • 19% in overall GHG emissions
  • 29% in GHG emissions from heavy equipment
  • 31% in litres of diesel fuel from heavy equipment
  • 65% in electricity consumption

Avoided Emissions

  • 31% of emissions from shipping

Company History

Sam Schnitzer, a Russian immigrant, founded Schnitzer Steel in 1906. From humble beginnings as a one-man operation buying and selling scrap metal, Schnitzer has grown into a publicly traded corporation with close to $2 billion in revenues, 97 recycling facilities, and almost 3,000 employees. Today, Schnitzer operates in three areas of the scrap metal market. The company collects, processes and recycles scrap metal to sell to mills and foundries around the world; it salvages used auto parts that are then resold to customers across North America; and it transforms recycled scrap metal into finished steel products.

Climate Smart Participation

In 2016, Schnitzer Steel Canada Ltd.’s (Schnitzer) Surrey location participated in the Climate Smart program. Hosted by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, this program provided port tenants with training on measuring and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Working with Climate Smart provided an opportunity for local management to take a closer look at their own operations through a GHG lens, and to learn from other Port tenants as well.

Schnitzer’s processing equipment, as well as lighting, require significant amounts of electricity. In 2012, as part of a facility upgrade, Schnitzer invested in a number of electrical improvements including installation of high efficiency processing equipment and lighting. Based on calculations provided by BC Hydro, these investments were projected to save 242,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) annually, enough to power 22 homes for one year1. Based on adjustments to its operating platform the Surrey location achieved further reductions in electricity and fuel use between 2014 and 2016. During this period the facility reduced electricity consumption per tonne of throughput by 65%; reduced fuel consumption per tonne of throughput by 31%; and achieved a 19% reduction in overall GHG emissions per tonne of throughput.

Geographic Synergies

Schnitzer operates facilities across North America, including Western Canada, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. This broad geographic coverage provides a significant advantage in resource distribution. Centralizing aspects of their operations, sharing equipment, and accessing multiple markets reinforces Schnitzer’s flexible and sustainable operating platform. The breadth of their operations has led to great improvements in efficiency.

Operating several deep-water marine ports allows the company to not only ship goods to and from international markets, but also between its own port locations. Transporting raw materials and finished products in bulk via marine vessels provides significant GHG reductions compared with other modes of transportation.

About Climate Smart

Climate Smart is a social enterprise based in Vancouver, BC that enables small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen their business, and build a resilient economy. Climate Smart’s unique combination of training, carbon accounting software, one-on-one support and certification builds capacity within businesses to track and reduce their impact, and to communicate the leadership they’re taking on climate action.

As part of its vision to become the most sustainable port in the world, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is partnering with Climate Smart to engaging tenant businesses to track and reduce their GHG emissions to reduce the environmental impact of the port as a whole.


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