ALBANY — A scrap metal processor will be upgrading its Port of Albany facility with a 3,000-horsepower shredder that can reduce up to 80 tons of metal to tatters per hour.
The multimillion-dollar project will require Upstate Shredding-Ben Weitsman to expand its workforce by 15 people and allow it to process more scrap on site.
Company owner Adam Weitsman said the Albany site has become the fourth-busiest of the company’s 17 facilities since it opened in 2013, and is now processing about 2,500 tons a week.
“We didn’t anticipate the volume we got in Albany,” he said.
The company received approval to install a shredder in Albany in 2014 but decided to make that investment instead at the facility it operates near Pittsburgh.
The new shredder, which will be the company’s third, is expected to be ready for operation in January, and will increase the tonnage flowing through Albany.
As impressive as the 3,000-horsepower machine is — it can reduce an entire car to chunks a few inches in length — it pales in comparison to the 10,000-horsepower megashredder at Upstate’s headquarters in Owego.
The Owego facility also has all the high-tech equipment for separating scrap into its component materials.
For example, when a car is chopped into bits, the scraps are a mix of metal, plastic, rubber, etc. The company puts all the shreds on a truck and ships it to Owego, where it is separated into mill-ready ferrous metals; non-ferrous metal called “zorba” in the industry; and “fluff,” a mix of non-recyclable materials that becomes landfill cover material.
In the end, about 80 percent of that old car gets recycled as scrap metal.
The new shredders use dissipating foam rather than water to suppress dust and fires, Adam Weitsman said, so they are more environmentally friendly than older versions.
The world market for recycled consumer goods such as bottles and newspapers has gone through upheaval this year as China banned import of some materials and their value plummeted. Scrap metal has seen price fluctuations as well, but it is a different market from consumer recyclables, Adam Weitsman said. Further, only about 10 percent of Upstate Shredding’s scrap is shipped abroad, he said — 90 percent stays in the United States.
“We’re prone to market swings like anything else,” he said. “It’s a ripple, but luckily we set up our company to not rely on China.”
Upstate Shredding-Ben Weitsman is named in honor of Adam’s late grandfather, who ran an auto parts business and the original small scrapyard in Owego. Adam Weitsman has modernized and greatly expanded the business, and has set a 2019 goal of processing 1 million tons of scrap metal.