JERSEY SHORE - Going green has been a good move all around for Jersey Shore Steel.
From an environmental standpoint, officials have taken various measures to help shrink the carbon footprint.
And that's a positive step forward for Mother Earth.
Thomas Tillman, a vice president of Jersey Shore Steel, stands along some of the company’s equipment.
But it also makes economic sense.
"Customers are more green conscious," said Thomas Tillman, vice president of sales. "They are looking for this."
This spring, company officials traveled to Berlin, Germany, to present at the Green Steel Strategies 2012 Conference some of the steps taken to make Jersey Shore Steel among the world's greenest mills.
Tillman noted that it gave plant officials a chance to share some of their strategies to steel manufacturers from around the world.
The two days of sessions considered ways of creating environmental excellence in the steel industry.
The plant's green initiatives include using recycled railroad track in its manufacturing process and pumping in methane gas from the Wayne Township Landfill as a fueling source for heating steel.
"Anything we've done to stay green has lowered costs," he said. "Going green makes good business sense."
To put the use of recycling steel into perspective, Tillman noted that China produces steel with an average of only 8 percent recycled content.
By contrast, Jersey Shore Steel uses 100 percent recycled steel, translating to much more efficient use of energy.
The methane gas pumped into the plant is produced from waste at the landfill, with the gas entering the furnace heating the recycled rails to 2,300 degrees.
Tillman noted that an otherwise potent greenhouse gas is burned in the furnace rather than emitted into the atmosphere.
Over the years improvements have been made, with the plant increasing the gas intake from the landfill from 15 percent to 95 percent.
Beyond that, recent upgrades have been made to measure and control the process, resulting in less energy use, fewer emissions and improved production.
Tillman referred to the process as yet another "responsible" approach to steel-making.
To help meet new standards for removing total suspended solids and collect iron, the plant most recently installed a wet magnetic particle separator.
"It's all about continuous improvements," Tillman said. "Our greening initiatives have all had positive outcomes."
Tillman noted that the move toward "greening the plant" didn't just take place overnight, that the strategies have been implemented over many years.
For example, the use of recycled rails has been part of the operations since 1938.
The company supplies steel angle from high-carbon, recycled T-rails to a number of furniture and bed frame producers.
In 2010 Penn State University examined plant operations and found that the rolling mill had a negative carbon footprint and that its rail steel contains the lowest "embodied energy of any steel on the market today."
"We have the title of the world's greenest steel mill," Tillman said.