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Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies for Plating Operations

Section 7 - Off-Site Metals Recycling


7.2.3 U.S. Off-Site Metals Recycling Capacity

Wastewater treatment plant sludge (RCRA waste code F006) is the waste that is most commonly sent to off-site metals recycling plants by electroplating shops. The survey results from the off-site metals recycling companies indicate that there are 10 to 15 plants in the U.S. that are capable of processing F006 sludge and that a typical plant has a processing capacity of 25,000 to 150,000 tons of waste per year. Assuming there are 15 plants with an average processing capacity of 75,000 tons/yr, the U.S. capacity is approximately 1.1 million tons/yr. This estimation overstates the available capacity for the plating industry because most of these plants also accept metal-bearing wastes from other industrial sectors.

Data presented in Section 6 indicate that the average electroplating plant generates approximately 79 tons/yr of F006 sludge (see note). Using EPA's estimate of 13,470 electroplating/metal finishing plants, the total U.S. F006 generation rate is estimated to be 1.1 million tons/yr. Comparing this estimation to the present U.S. capacity of off-site metals recycling plants indicates that a rather close match exists between F006 generation rates and processing capacity. However, this comparison does not consider the waste contributions from other industrial sectors.

Note: Data from PS 273 were not included in the calculation of an average sludge generation because their data were so much different than those from other respondents to the Users Survey. This site generates a large quantity of wet sludge (1.3 million gallons per year of sludge with a dryness of 8% to 10% solids) that is disposed of at a nearby hazardous waste site.

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