Sandvik is a global industrial group with advanced products and world-leading positions in selected areas – tools for metal cutting, equipment and tools for the mining and construction industries, stainless materials, special alloys, metallic and ceramic resistance materials as well as process systems.
The Group has about 50,000 employees and representation in 130 countries, with annual sales of more than 94,000 MSEK. Sandvik has been present in Italy since 1950 with commercial offices and manufacturing plants, and has operated successfully by maintaining good relationships with the socio-environmental context in which it has set its roots.
In 2007 Sandvik Italy filed an application to the Italian authorities in order to create a collection center in Milan for cemented carbide worn-out cutting tools, and in 2008 it has started collection activities. In 2009 the company has also obtained the licence for transportation of this type of waste.
The business challenge was to buy worn-out cutting tools back from its customers, at a fair price, when such tools can no longer be used in their manufacturing process. Today this is a common practice for us at Sandvik Italy. The Company takes care of packing such waste in appropriate boxes and sending it to the Sandvik European Recycling Centre where the product is brought back to its original form (powder) and used to produce new recycled product.
Sandvik Italy’s objective is to decrease the extraction of raw materials from the ground and avoid use of energy to extract and process the rocks that contain the mineral needed to produce the cutting tools. This is an extremely complex and energy-consuming process, which also causes emissions into the environment, water consumption, and production of more waste. It is important to consider that cemented carbide, for its characteristics, is not compatible in recycling and recovery processes with steel-based products and other metals.
For Sandvik, the cemented carbide waste consists of worn out machining tools, such as drilling tools, threading tools and milling cutters purchased by the customer. The company sees recycling not just as a benefit for the environment, but as an added business opportunity for itself and its customers.
The company looks at carbide recycling in the context of the customer’s value chain from R&D through production logistics.
The customer can incorporate recycling into various processes from the dispensing of carbide inserts, their use in production, collection, recycling and then use that money to purchase new inserts or to finance new tooling projects.
This process involves numerous stakeholders, primarily the Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) function of Sandvik Italy, product marketing department, communications, customer care, salesforce, warehouse personnel. The typical external stakeholder is the third party transporter: in fact for the time being Sandvik Italy has capacity to take care of only 30% of the transportation.
A special ‘separation table’ has been set up in our Milan warehouse where our personnel select the worn out tools by size. Then we proceed by packing such tools (considered waste) into containers and we ship by pallets to the Sandvik Europe collection center.
Such practice is promoted by the company’s marketing and sales department, where our salesforce has the task to supply information and data in order to coach the customer into the usefulness of recovery of a product with high technological content, which requires important raw materials, expensive and rare. The recovery process and renewed product formation using 100% of recovered product needs approximately
50% of the energy compared to a normal production cycle that starts from extraction of
The EH&S service in Sandvik Italy has carried out training and raised awareness in our salesforce, warehousemen
and transporters both regarding Italian legislation on waste management, storage and handling.
Extensive sessions of training have been devoted to clients regarding legislation on collection,
storage and treatment of this type of waste. In addition to training Sandvik provides customers with
appropriate containers necessary for the collection and shipping containers that are different from those
used for the definitive storage and transportation to its European Recycling Centre.
All carbide inserts and round tools are then sent to ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001/ISO 9001-certified plants, to
ensure that all carbide is recycled using approved, environmentally friendly methods.
Sandvik has long been an advocate of environmental sustainability in the manufacturing industry. The main challenge in proposing a new approach to waste of worn out machining tools was training customers into a cultural change, which we had experienced ourselves in the first place. Our salespeople no longer had the mission of selling a product to the customer, but selling the value of a completely new approach in which Sandvik and the customer would work in collaboration to create a product lifecycle with the least possible impact against the environment and society. Another aspect to be emphasized is also relating to acoustic pollution, ie the noise that the process of extraction and production of this mineral entails. This recycling concept was also “revolutionary” to pass to our salespeople that had to completely change their mindset and see the recycling as part of the sales activity thus working even closer to the customer to make the new process work. We recognize, however, that the company did not struggle to pass this message through: people got the concept immediately. This is a sort of reward, corporate-wise, resulting from a strong company culture and natural responsiveness to the Company’s Core Values (Open Mind, Team Spirit, Fair Play). Lessons learned for us are the living proof that we can do business even looking at the environment, and the internal cultural set-up based on shared corporate values has a prominent role in all this: taking care and protecting the environment can help you to shape a different and innovative kind of business. Employees are more motivated and loyal to a company active in the adoption of environmentally conscious practices, and we believe that this reflects good results also on the retention rate of the employees and on employer branding as a whole.
The concept of recycling has moved beyond the obvious environmental benefits and has taken on added
dimension in the modern world. Also, such practice results in business opportunities beyond just the
environment. Our motto is: Together, we can do our part to promote more sustainable manufacturing
processes. Sandvik has created an innovative form of relationship between supplier and customer based
on the environmental aspects of the recovery, with the guarantee for the customer of the absolute certainty
of total compliance to the legal aspect of the lifecycle of the product.
Moreover, this solution results in simplification of work organization by the customer with decrease
of time and costs of waste management. Under the social point of view, we do not create depletion of
natural resources and truly use less energy and materials for the production cycle (electricity, natural gas,
water) resulting in lower CO2 emissions into the environment. All containers necessary for the collection,
storage and transport containers are fully recyclable.