Charlotte steel mill does more than recycle scrap

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA April 22, 2017 – Gerdau is one of the largest recyclers in North America. Ninety-eight percent of its steel is produced from scrap metals that come from everyday things, such as automobiles and old stoves. Gerdau’s Charlotte mill used 184,255 net tons of scrap in 2016.

But at the Charlotte mill, there’s more recycling going on than melting scrap into steel products.  

Gerdau Charlotte employees have a continuous cellphone drive for the Cabarrus Victims Assistance Network, a local women’s shelter. Twice a year, employees drop off collected cellphones at the shelter.


“As part of the Gerdau culture, protecting our environment is a value for all our employees,” Bob Churchill, Gerdau Charlotte’s safety and environmental manager, said. “Repurposing is a great way to provide these items to those in need.”


Since the early 2000s, Gerdau Charlotte has donated about 500 cellphones a year. The Human Resources and Safety departments came up with the idea. Logistics Clerk Peggy Patrick has been involved with the collection and delivery since the start of the project, as well as establishing contacts and generating employee involvement.


Last year, the shelter helped 1,855 women and children, and it takes 125 calls a month on its 24-hour domestic violence help hotline.


“The interesting and cool thing about cellphones is that we can do a couple of different things with them,” Rebecca Moffett, assistant director of the shelter, said. “We can charge it, and even if a woman doesn’t have cell service, she can use it to call 911.”


Moffett said if there is a surplus of cellphones, the shelter takes them to a recycler and receives money which can be used to help run the shelter and its programs.


Gerdau Charlotte also collects safety glasses and employee reading glasses through a donation box in its main office. The glasses are repurposed and given to the Lions Club, which donates the glasses to local shelters. The initiative has been going on for eight years. Recently, Gerdau Charlotte donated 25 pairs of glasses.


Used printer cartridges from Gerdau Charlotte are donated to the Lions Club, as well. The club is then reimbursed from the printer manufacturers, and the club uses the money from the cartridges to support charity efforts in the community.


“Disposing of these items in a landfill is a cost that is not necessary,” Churchill said. “We have an opportunity to contribute to our community and show our support as a long-term business in the Charlotte area.”


It’s not only people in need who benefit from Gerdau Charlotte’s recycling efforts – the environment does too.


Gerdau Charlotte receives defective batteries from major suppliers such as Energizer, Duracell, Asheboro Recycling, Battery Solutions and Spectrum Brands. Around four to five truck loads, or about 72 tons per month, are recycled the same way scrap metals are recycled.


The project began in 2012 with only a couple of suppliers and has grown over the years.


“Giving back to Charlotte and surrounding communities is an obligation,” Churchill said.

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