How CleanPlanet Reinvented Solvent Recycling, Part I of III
Lesson: Understanding the value of solvent recycling is not linked to equipment ownership.
CleanPlanet’s original approach to the market was through the direct selling and distribution of recycling equipment. However, we quickly determined that this approach did not deliver the maximum value to our customers. Equipment costs and lengthy approval processes, combined with maintenance requirements and the need for operational expertise, did not yield acceptable financial returns.
Customers have embraced solvent recycling as a way to reduce costs and protect Mother Earth’s natural resources. Unfortunately, when looking at the “true costs” (factoring downtime, actual yield, maintenance costs, spare parts and consumable costs, etc..), the ROI derived from the equipment purchase was often less than expected. Additionally, the extended time frame for realizing a return further de-valued the model. This tied-up significant capital which could have been allocated to projects and/or assets providing a faster and more certain time-to-value.
As with any hard asset, maintenance is inevitable. The process of solvent distillation puts significant strain on recycling equipment. Therefore, proper setup, monitoring, and routine maintenance are essential – particularly for applications requiring exact specifications. In most cases, our customers did not have the expertise and/or resources needed for properly managing the equipment.
Optimizing the value from onsite solvent recycling requires equipment operators to be trained accordingly. Since the economic downturn in 2008, most companies continue to focus on “doing more with less” as a path to improving productivity. Consequently, learning how to operate the costly equipment did not warrant the requisite attention. This, combined with employee turnover, often caused companies to abandon their recycling efforts, despite their significant capital investment.
Collectively, these obstacles diluted True ROI. This, in turn, negatively impacted the company’s perspective, causing them to revert back to their traditional methods. Solvent recycling failed not because it wasn’t worthwhile or didn’t work, it failed because it only solved part of the problem.
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