The North Coast Container Blog

The Steel Drum Life-Cycle Explained & How NCC Takes Sustainability Further

As the largest independent manufacturer of steel drums in North America, North Coast Container’s mission is to be the preferred container supplier to our customers by providing the best quality, value, and service — while leading in safety and sustainability.

At NCC, “sustainability” means fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care, and social well-being. We do this by adhering to multiple sustainable processes that repurpose, recycle, and reduce the usage of materials, all while minimizing our carbon footprint in manufacturing, water usage, and emissions.

100% Recyclable Steel Drum Life-Cycle

A significant part of NCC’s sustainability efforts is our closed-loop steel drum life-cycle that produces 100% recyclable steel drums. This process has allowed us to divert hundreds of millions of pounds of material from landfills since 2007. The process comprises seven steps:

  1. New Steel Drums — Drums created from recycled steel are themselves recyclable, and are capable of being reconditioned multiple times.
  2. Filling — With its capacity to be reused, reconditioned, and recycled, the steel drum is among the safest, most environmentally sound packaging in the world.
  3. Emptying — After customers utilize the various contents of their drums, they are ready for collection.
  4. Collection — Certified drip-dry empty drums, with the original labels intact and all the closures secure, are accepted for reconditioning.
  5. Reconditioning — Reconditioning and reusing steel drums conserves natural resources and keeps drums out of landfills.
  6. Recycling — Empty steel drums that can no longer be reconditioned are sanitized before being recycled back into steel.
  7. Recycled steel — Infinitely recyclable, the worn-out and empty steel drum ends up back in the steel process.

North Coast Container's trusted partner Container Management Services (CMS) offers steel drum recycling services that make it easier for our customers to seamlessly integrate recycling into their business practices. CMS specializes in providing:

  • Truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) pickups of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), steel and plastic drums, and recyclable plastics
  • Environmentally safe disposal
  • Secure and cost-effective services

Manufacturing Sustainability

NCC’s customer-first team goes above and beyond to make sustainability a priority throughout the manufacturing process, from the sourcing of material to the last steps completed for every steel drum we make.

For sustainable sourcing of materials, NCC partners with steel mills that use less energy to create their final product. Thirty percent of the steel we acquire is produced with 75 percent less carbon dioxide, using an Electric Arc Furnace process versus the traditional Blast Oxygen Furnace process. We also source recycled paints, low-emission coatings, and non-hazardous chemicals, improving safety and reducing hazardous toxins and energy consumption.

NCC uses waterborne paint, eliminating paint solvents, and prioritizes the use of low-VOC coatings. In all of our facilities, NCC invests in modernization, resulting in more efficient equipment, such as high-efficiency ovens, that produce less waste and use less energy. We are also utilizing a more environmentally friendly wash system that saves 25% on energy and uses 40% less water. The water used in our wash process is recycled, brought back and clarified, and then reused.

We collaborate with Energy Trusts near NCC facilities to develop action plans to reduce energy consumption. At least 10% of our power is from renewable sources. We also utilize lower energy lighting in our facilities to further reduce energy consumption.

Continuous Improvement & Human Development

At NCC, sustainability isn’t limited to manufacturing and recycling; it is part of our business system and our foundation. The five pillars of our business – safety, quality, value, service, and sustainability – drive everything we do.

In addition to NCC’s minimal environmental footprint, we also approach sustainability in our human development at every level of the company. We are committed to training our team members and upholding continuous improvement processes using the elements of the Toyota Production System.

Interested in learning more about NCC’s sustainability efforts or products? Contact us today for more information.

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