The first Project Scrap partnership was formed in the spring of 2008 by two Portland, Oregon companies known for their innovative approaches to sustainability and community building. Eleek was already using 100% recycled aluminum to make many of its products when Shane Endicott, founder and director of The ReBuilding Center (check title), approached Eleek’s owners about the possibility of using TRC’s scrap. Eleek owners Sattie Clark and Eric Kaster thought it was a great idea, but they weren’t sure if the local foundries that cast Eleek’s aluminum could use it. The scrap was mostly in the form of old aluminum storm windows that had been pulled off houses. In order to find out, they took some of it to Orville Flowers at Portland Foundry. In turn, Orville did some testing and determined that it could be done as long as the scrap was really clean (no paint, no glue, etc.).

The next step for Eleek was to figure out what to do with this scrap. Rather than use it randomly in all their aluminum products, they wanted to use it to make a specific product line in order to better tell the story. Eleek was already manufacturing a line of 100% recycled cast aluminum cabinet hardware called Masa. They decided that from that point on, all Masa hardware they recycled would be made entirely of post-consumer scrap from The ReBuilding Center.

By utilizing locally sourced scrap material for its Masa hardware line, Eleek has reduced the energy required to produce this product. Whereas before the aluminum content had to be collected, melted, formed into billet and shipped to the foundry (traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to find its way back to Portland), now the scrap can be used directly without traveling more than a few miles (from The ReBuilding Center to Eleek is less than a mile; from Eleek to the foundry is less than five miles or less than 30 miles, depending on which foundry is used). The more dramatic part of the story in terms of energy saved, however, is this: If Eleek did not buy the scrap directly from TRC, it would go to a scrapper who ships it to Asia for processing.