CASE: Circulation of metals in Ensto

Circular economy has been daily business in Ensto's manufacturing in Finland for decades. Metal scrap that is produced in turning is carefully separated, kept apart and recycled. Copper, stainless steel, painted steel and aluminum are transported to Kuusakoski Oy, where new raw materials are produced. Recycled aluminum is even in some extent repurchased as Ensto's aluminum supplier acquires raw material from Kuusakoski Oy.

Brass scrap (later chips) has so called closed circulation as the brass chips are sold directly to one of Ensto's brass suppliers. Ensto purchases brass rods and coils from Germany. Brass is mainly used to manufacture components for connectors by turning coils and rods into desired shapes. Turning of brass creates lots of brass chips, since almost half of the purchased brass ends up to scrap. In 2015 153t brass chips were produced.

Oil is used in turning process which contaminates the brass chips. Oil concentration of the brass chips needs to be fewer than 3%, in order to be recyclable, thus the brass chips need to be purified in the centrifuge. Recovered oil can be reused in turning which makes the purification process also in that sense profitable.

Clean brass chips are transported and sold back to the brass supplier to Germany. The concentration of brass is analyzed, the chips are melted with needed substrates, new brass rods and coils are produced and the cycle continues. The supplier uses mostly brass ships as raw material so the recycling rate is almost 100%. In the end of the life time Ensto's connectors hopefully end up to a recycling station and the brass returns back to the brass cycle.

Recycling of metals is not just reducing waste and saving environment but also saving money. The brass chips have the highest monetary value of Ensto's metal scrap. Recycling brass back to the manufacturer is also beneficial to Ensto since the price of the brass is cheaper for those who return their scrap back.