Making Good Use of Used Metals

Shon's Scientific Refrigeration Co.

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

The innovation at Shon's Scientific Refrigeration which this report articulates is a recycling program offered to the company's clients. Through this service, clients may pass off depreciated refrigeration units to Shon's; Shon's then deconstructs the units such that chemicals are disposed of properly and safely, and metals are either redirected to recycling facilities or reused by Shon's to create new or refurbished units that may be loaned or sold out to clients. This program aids the progression of the Sustainable Development Goals of Sustainable Cities & Communities and Responsible Consumption & Production by making the extra effort to reuse or recycle raw materials, and by setting an example for other organizations to follow.

Authors

Jed Cronin

Jed Cronin

James Williams

James Williams

Mark Hoye

Mark Hoye

Rachel Lombardi

Rachel Lombardi

Abbey Allen

Abbey Allen

School

Bryant University

Bryant University

Professor

Eileen Kwesiga

Eileen Kwesiga

Innovation

One of the services offered by Shon’s Scientific is the recycling of refrigeration systems that are no longer of use to their clients. For this service, Shon’s picks up the unit from their client and takes it back to the main office. Here, it is stripped down to its component parts; refrigerant chemicals are disposed of in accordance with EPA guidelines, parts that are completely depreciated are sent off to specific facilities to be recycled instead of thrown away, and parts that are at all salvageable are kept by Shon’s for reuse. This service is highly convenient for clients because without Shon’s, each client would be left to its own unspecialized labor and resources to get rid of used units. Shon’s removes this burden from their clients, and at the same time disposes of the units in a sustainable fashion. Whereas metal parts used to simply be tossed into a dumpster, Shon’s now coordinates with facilities that recycle the parts instead of disposing them. Furthermore, Shon’s itself effectively recycles salvageable metal parts by reusing them to construct new or refurbished refrigeration units. In some cases, Shon’s does not even have to deconstruct a depreciated unit, and instead uses company resources to fix the unit up to performance standards while leaving it intact. Shon’s sells their new or refurbished units to client institutions for a profit, and in doing so, eliminates some of the demand for raw materials from the environment to make entirely new units.

Shon’s Scientific began offering its recycling service twelve years ago. At that time, the EPA issued new requirements for the disposal of refrigerant chemicals, a process which had previously lacked substantial regulation. Whereas organizations that used low temperature refrigeration had been simply tossing out depreciated units, they would now be required to deconstruct the units in order to properly extract the internal chemicals. Shon’s perceived an opportunity in this new practice, which is how their recycling service was introduced. Shon’s realized that by offering to deconstruct and recycle old units for the convenience of their clients, an opportunity for profit would be generated in two dimensions. First, the service of breaking down units and redirecting their parts to recycling facilities was one obvious way for Shon’s to boost its revenue. Additionally, Shon’s noted that it possessed the resources to utilize broken down parts of clients’ old units to construct new or refurbished units; these units could be sold as an additional source of income. Thus, Shon’s began working to provide this recycling service for as many of its clients as possible.

Bob Dacko, the owner of Shon’s at the time they began offering this service, worked with other members of the company’s management to develop and expand the recycling program. The technician workers at Shon’s already possessed the necessary skills to deconstruct refrigeration units, and simply needed to learn the specifics of the job before they were ready to execute such orders. Employees communicated this new recycling program to their clients over time primarily by word of mouth; while on the job performing specific work orders, employees would explain to them the benefits that were offered by using Shon’s’ recycling service for depreciated units. Today, nearly all of Shon’s’ clients take advantage of this service when they have units to dispose of, and Shon’s has boosted its profits as a result.

Making Good Use of Used Metals

Inspiration

A large percentage of Shon’s’ clients are institutions that engage in medical and biological practices. Accordingly, for virtually all of the professionals at these institutions, protecting the environment is something that they value greatly both in their work and personal lives. Shon’s’ recycling service, therefore, is a business factor that helps foster a stronger connection with clients. In this respect, it is inspiring for employees at Shon’s to be appreciated on a higher level for the work they do, knowing that providing this service to clients is a small step forward in society’s task of protecting the environment. Shon’s’ clients, from a value standpoint, are among the first to commend such sustainability in business. In the words of Eric Lombardi, the current Vice President at Shon’s, “The biomedical field that we work for is growing and changing at a truly remarkable rate. For us to maintain the strength of our business, it has been very important to not only satisfy the needs of our clients, but also to satisfy their values. As we’ve discussed, the folks in this field love what we do with the recycling program. They immediately can see the value that it generates for all parties, including the environment. But understand that their values go beyond strictly ‘going green.’ For example, diligent, time-sensitive completion of tasks - which I’d like to think we’ve also done a great job with - go over very well with these people, since a strong work ethic is what brought them to the jobs they’re in now. They value that kind of business. So, for us it’s always been about going beyond just satisfying their needs. We also have to reach their values, which circles back to how our whole recycling program began in the first place.”

Shon’s mission is “to provide quality services focused on the reliability of your equipment to ensure that the contents produced by many years of work are safe.” Shon’s’ ability to deliver strong business, therefore, is an instrumental factor in the success of both their clients and themselves. Understanding this mutual relationship in all the work they do, Shon’s is driven to continuously expand what they have to offer their clients, and the foundation of their recycling program has proven to be one of the most pivotal actions in reaching such an objective. As previously indicated, the program is multidimensional in the sense that for one, it is a practical service for clients to take advantage of since Shon’s has the best resources to properly recycle and reuse depreciated units. Furthermore, as reported, the service also appeals to clients from a value standpoint; environmental sustainability in business creates an additional perceived value for clients of Shon’s. Science is the bottom line of their field work; therefore, these professionals have an inherent respect for the environment and its scarce resources. Shon's’ recycling program demonstrates that Shon’s returns that respect, and this gesture helps them provide a higher quality of service to their clients. The mission to deliver top-notch service, therefore, becomes more attainable through this practice.

Overall impact

For Shon’s Scientific Refrigeration, the recycling program has contributed a greater sense of importance to their work. It diversifies the many functions and services that each technician has to offer his or her clients. It allows the technicians to present themselves as better-rounded individuals for a job; as Eric Lombardi explained, “I’ve noticed over the years that being respected as a capable professional does something to help boost the morale for these guys. . . . The recycling program just takes that sense of professionalism to another level. It’s one more positive thing that they can offer our clients, and it loops in the environment as a third beneficiary. Our clients love that.”

As Mr. Lombardi indicates, the environment also receives qualitative benefit from Shon’s recycling program. The redirecting of scrapped metal components to some other usage, such as a new unit, lowers the demand for raw materials that must be extracted from natural resources. Furthermore, it reduces the impact of industrial activity that goes into producing new metal components for refrigeration units. Pollution and energy usage from factories, for example, may both be minimized by utilizing metal parts that have already been manufactured, instead of having to make new ones every time a refrigeration unit must be produced or repaired. In addition, Shon’s is effectively setting an example in their industry by recycling metal components instead of disposing them. While the practice is not unique to Shon’s, Shon’s nonetheless helps raise the bar for other organizations to follow suit. Doing well by doing good in business often catches on; and recycling is one of the most universal, fluid practices to help spread.

Business benefit

For Shon’s as an organization, one short term benefit of their recycling service is the additional profits that are generated by providing it to clients. Mr. Lombardi noted that he observed an increase in business after the program was implemented, and one reason for this was due to its marketability in an “environmentally friendly industry.” This marketability, which has been important to the expansion of the recycling program to a greater percentage of Shon’s clients, is another component short term benefit. A long term benefit for Shon’s is leveraging their positive impact on the environment for greater name recognition; this dynamic increases both the business that Shon’s receives over time, and their capacity to produce a greater benefit for the environment.

For individual technicians at Shon’s, a short term benefit of the recycling program is an increased sense of professionalism. By offering more diverse services, workers establish greater credibility with their clients, and this often reciprocates to an increased self-esteem. A significant long term benefit for employees is a magnified feeling of importance in their work. Once a technician decides to retire, he will have the ability to reflect on his career and realize that his work benefited more than just his company and his clients; he also had a hand, even if a small one, in integrating environmental sustainability with standard business. Without the small steps taken by individual people, the broader movement towards better protecting the environment would be quite impossible.

In terms of the fiscal benefit of recycling to Shon’s as an organization, the company’s latest income statement indicates that their recycling service accounts for 2% of total revenue, while the sale or repair of reconditioned equipment (using recycled components) accounts for 4%. At a total of 6% of all revenue, and considering that these are just two out of many other functions offered by Shon’s, the yield from their recycling service is strongly reinforced by the company’s financial records.

Social and environmental benefit

For the environment as a whole, one major short term benefit is a reduced demand for the extraction of raw materials from natural resources. Instead of manufacturing new metal parts every time a refrigeration unit is produced, Shon’s’ practice of reusing metal components from older units eliminates the need for such industrial production and cuts out a substantial volume of metal disposal in the process. Factory pollution and energy usage are also reduced as a result. As far as long term environmental benefits, Shon’s is contributing to changing the standard for business conduct. Whereas organizations throughout the industry used to simply toss away depreciated units as conveniently as possible, without taking care to minimize environmental impact, there is now a positive pressure to take greater responsibility in organizational actions; Shon’s is contributing to this pressure by offering and expanding their recycling service. Optimally, this pressure will fade away with time, and responsible business conduct will smoothly become the norm.

In the past year, Shon’s has provided their recycling service to clients just over 400 times. Each service involves disposing of refrigerants in accordance with EPA guidelines and deconstructing metal components to be either recycled or reused for new/refurbished units. Mr. Lombardi explained that, “The units that Shon’s breaks down each contain hundreds of refrigerants, which are made up of many different chemicals to create certain properties. EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act address the handling and recycling of refrigerants used in these types of equipment. These regulations are designed primarily to prevent the release of ozone-depleting substances.” Such substances, if released into the atmosphere, deteriorate the crucial ozone layer over time; this damages the layer’s ability to shield the Earth from harmful rays of sun. Therefore, Shon’s offers to dispose of these chemicals properly for each of their clients that seek to discard a depreciated refrigeration unit, since Shon’s has better resources to do so than the clients themselves. Most deconstructed systems contain 1-2 lbs of chemicals, but some of the larger ones may contain 3-6 lbs. In extreme cases, Shon’s handles units containing 20-30 lbs, which are utterly important to dispose of correctly due to the potential environmental harm of each single system.

With respect to the metal components of refrigeration units, Shon’s either coordinates with external facilities to redirect the parts for proper recycling or keeps the parts and reuses them for new/refurbished units. Mr. Lombardi elaborates that, “In regards to size, we recycle units ranging from undercounter (dorm) size to 32 cubic foot freezers. They can range in weight from 50 lbs to 1,000 lbs total cabinet weight. 85-90% of the weight would be the metal parts. The majority of these, approximately 80%, are recycled. The other 20% are repurposed for our use or for sale after we have repaired them. The savings from recycling or repurposing this many units is a huge burden lifted from our landfills, and certainly the broader environment by conserving resources.”

Interview

Eric Lombardi, Vice President

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Shon's Scientific Refrigeration Co.

Shon's Scientific Refrigeration Co.

Dedham, MA, US

Business Website: http://shonsscientific.com/

Year Founded: 1946

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Shon's Scientific Refrigeration is an organization that specializes in the repair, maintenance, and improvement of specialized low-temperature refrigeration systems. Their clients include a variety of medical institutions, research facilities, and other science-engaged organizations located throughout New England.