Transforming Manufacturing Waste to Protect the Environment

At our Vehicle Group plant in Bosconero, Italy, our waste management approach is turning manufacturing byproducts into safe, valuable materials ready for reuse or recycling—significantly reducing our environmental impact.
Nov 1, 2022 9:45 AM ET
Blog

In Bosconero, Italy, we’re reducing our site’s environmental footprint, slashing waste to landfill, and lowering our consumption of raw materials with a different approach to the grinding sludge produced in our oil filtration activities.

Part of our Vehicle Group, the Bosconero site produces engine valves for truck and passenger car manufacturers. A considerable amount of oil is used as coolant during the grinding of these components, which is then filtered to remove contaminants and enable its reuse. However, even after this process, around 300 tons of unusable grinding sludge is still left per year.

Classified as EWC 12 01 18 hazardous waste, this sludge is a mixture of used grinding oil and metal fragments. Posing a significant risk to both human and ecological health due to its high oil content, this sludge is costly and labor intensive to dispose of safely.

In 2019, we invested in a new briquetting press to enhance our oil filtration process and optimize waste management. The briquette machine reduces the amount of hazardous grinding sludge created by converting it into non-hazardous solid blocks, while also enabling more oil to be recaptured.

Investing to protect the environment

Since oil filtration grinding sludge is produced in large quantities at Bosconero, we targeted it as the first step in our waste reduction initiative.

A briquetting press compresses the metal fragments in grinding sludge to create solid, safe, and easy-to-handle cylindrical blocks. This compression process also extracts more oil for reuse.

These blocks are left with an oil content under the threshold for hazardous material and their solid state also prevents oil from seeping into the environment. Furthermore, with a nickel density of 10-15%, ‘briquettes’ are ideal for recycling.

While we already had an older press at the Bosconero facility, it was less effective—requiring regular maintenance, recovering a smaller amount of oil, and being unable to produce briquettes certified as non-hazardous at the end of the process. To address these issues, we invested in a new press connected to the site’s oil filtration system. We also established a commercial agreement to sell our briquettes to a preferred supplier that specializes in processing scrap metal for reuse in other industries.

Less waste, more recycling

The initiative in Bosconero reflects our firm commitment to prevent pollution, to protect our communities, and to conserve natural resources wherever possible.

We’ve significantly reduced the volume of hazardous grinding sludge created in our operations. With a new briquetting press added to our oil filtration system, we are now recapturing around 45 m3 of oil for reuse per year, as well as producing safe briquettes high in nickel that are ideal for recycling. Furthermore, thanks to our commercial agreement, these leftover manufacturing materials are enabling a circular economy.

As well as reducing waste to landfill and our consumption of fresh oil, our ability to rework safe materials has also enabled significant savings and easier waste management. Additionally, the resale of this valuable manufacturing byproduct has turned a major operating cost into a new revenue stream. 

As a result of our success at Bosconero, our other vehicle plants are implementing similar recycling initiatives.