Project Results

Key Partners and Project Participants

The United States Materials Marketplace project is a unique collaboration between the US BCSD, WBCSD and Corporate Eco Forum, each bringing their respective business membership, communities and stakeholders. Just as the companies in the Marketplace are seeking new partnerships through the program, the three founding associations are seeking creative ways of collaborating. All three strive to support their constituencies in achieving scalable circular economy solutions.

After several months of recruitment, 23 of the corporate members joined the pilot. These companies come from a diverse mix of sectors that include cement, primary metal, chemicals, and consumer products. Together, they generate over $600 billion in annual revenue, with over 600 facilities in the United States, and over 1.7 million global employees (2014 data). 

Participants by Sector

Seventy-eight facilities from these 23 companies participated in the pilot project, representing 13% of the total number of United States facilities these companies operate. Sixty-three users had access to the marketplace to manage their company’s data. Some companies elected to engage individual facility managers at each location, while some managed information across multiple facilities from one central account. The Materials Marketplace software allows for either configuration depending on company needs. 

This map shows the distribution of project participant facilities across the United States. Geographic distribution plays an important role with respect to logistics and transportation, since owners and buyers in close proximity spend less and create less environmental impact transporting materials. As more company participants and their facilities come online, we anticipate that existing clusters will become denser, and new clusters will emerge.

Data Collection and Materials Highlights

As of October 31, 2015, a total of 150 materials were available in the Marketplace pilot project, totaling around 2.4 million tons per year of underutilized materials. Of this total, members were pursuing transactions involving more than 2 million tons. This figure demonstrates a tremendous opportunity for environmental, social and economic improvement. Chemicals, packaging, and metals are the top three material categories identified by the 23 participants in the project to date. The materials highlighted below represent a small subset of the total materials available.

The marketplace also includes over 50 wishlist entries - materials that project participants are seeking from other project participants. Cement industry participants posted the most wishlist entries, seeking materials for cement kiln co-processing. Other wishlist postings requested specific feedstocks for product manufacturing.

Materials Available by Resource Type


General Motors’ steel offal is a surplus raw material produced by its stamping operations. These are consistently sized, high-quality pieces of steel that are produced when windows and other spaces are stamped out of body panels on the assembly lines.  

Because of their consistent size, shape, and quality, these steel pieces are valuable for much more than traditional scrap markets. Offal pieces are 0.5 to 3.2 mm thick, have various coatings, and total 1,500 metric tons per year. Several companies have initiated conversations with GM on how to reuse these steel pieces in their production lines. Enormous cost-benefit values are available through reuse of these materials for GM and for future users of the reclaimed steel.

Material management is a business opportunity, not just a cost-reduction strategy,” says John Bradburn, GM’s Global Manager of Waste Reduction. “We have to reach the state where by-products are viewed the same way we view product development — part of constant improvement and innovation.

Too often in manufacturing, engineers may not have the time or opportunity to work closely with designers. On hearing about GM’s offal, an architect in New York envisioned using the low-cost offal as attractive outer sheaths of multi-story buildings.

In 2014, General Motors generated nearly $1 billion in annual revenue through reuse and recycling its by-products and avoided releasing over 10 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions into the atmosphere. 

Surplus Raw Material

Materials that the business owner does not need, but that can be reused as an original resource by other companies. The best possible outcomes in this category are when other manufacturing companies recognize they can use the materials directly, or after reprocessing them in their production; or when innovative products and businesses are created that can take advantage of low-cost raw material.

Textiles, Synthetic & Natural Leather | SURPLUS RAW MATERIAL

One clothing and textile company has a variety of surplus raw materials available in the marketplace, including natural leather, synthetic leather, and other textiles. These remnants are well suited for direct use. They can be cut into smaller pieces for smaller products, stitched together to create larger pieces, or shredded and reused as insulation material.


One manufacturer’s primary surplus raw material is 960 tons per year of wood waste. Manufacturers can reuse this material directly in less demanding construction and architectural applications, while some smaller workshops prioritize use of recovered wood.

Off-spec Polyalkylene Glycols (PAG) | INDUSTRIAL BY-PRODUCT

Broadly categorized as industrial by-products, Polyalkylene glycols (PAG) are high-performance synthetic lubricants, offering quality lubricity, high natural viscosity, and good temperature stability. PAG base fluids are available in both water soluble and insoluble forms and in a wide range of viscosity grades. Common uses include quenchants, metalworking fluids, food-grade lubricants, textile lubricants, and lubricants in hydraulic and compressor equipment.

Large amounts of off-spec/expired PAG lubricants are available in the Materials Marketplace. Though not applicable in their original forms, these materials represent possible reuse options as fuels and as lubricants in other applications. 


Some of the most important discoveries concern materials produced in the refining of aluminum. The refining generates a number of industrial by-products, including significant amounts of bauxite residue every year. This slurry residue, commonly known as red mud, is a mixture of oxide and hydroxide minerals with high alkalinity. Bauxite residue is a by-product in the production of alumina that remains after the refining process separates the alumina from the bauxite. Although the clay-like residue is high in alkalinity, it is possible to neutralize this. After a filter press dries the residue, moisture content can drop to between 20 and 40 percent, and the residue turns into a soil-like material of fine particle size. Because of the iron ion in the residue, it is generally red in color.

Industry experts have explored several applications for Bauxite residue, including in wastewater treatment as Phosphors absorbent, cement production process as Al and Fe additive, and as an amendment to acidic coal refuse piles for reclamation. 

Using bauxite residue and phosphogypsum as alternative construction materials for the levee core is a promising beneficial reuse opportunity. The US EPA has conducted a series of geotechnical, leaching, and erodibility studies, which verify that a mixture of aged bauxite residue and aged phosphogypsum at the ratio of 4:1, with high compaction level at optimum moisture level, has a high likelihood of meeting all levee construction-related requirements. 

Industry should continue to optimize the red mud­-phosphogypsum (RM-PG) mixture and design appropriate engineering procedures for large-scale testing. This will not only help verify the conclusions from the laboratory experiments, but also advise levee design that will best immobilize the RM­-PG mixture, thereby minimizing the ecological and human health risks by reducing exposure.

Industrial By-Products

More complex industrial by-products requiring thorough examination of their elemental composition, physical and chemical properties before being reused for other purposes. These represent the majority of materials identified in the marketplace for which multiple reuse solutions can now be feasibly identified.

Cold Mill Filter Media | INDUSTRIAL BY-PRODUCT

Cold Mill Filter Media are diatomaceous earth and fuller earth industrial by-products generated by the aluminum cold rolling process. This material consists of 40 percent diatomaceous earth, 20 percent fuller earth, oil and grease. The non-metallic mineral composition and the calorific value embodied in the oil and grease make this material an ideal alternative fuel or raw material for cement kiln co-processing.


Spent foundry sands are safe to reuse in soil-­related applications. The sand industry has promoted the beneficial reuse of these materials for over two decades. Earlier this year, the US EPA and the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the beneficial use of silica-­based, spent foundry sands produced by iron, steel and aluminum foundries in manufactured soils, soil­less potting media, and as a foundation layer in road construction. 

The EPA’s risk assessment of the evaluated uses of foundry sand concluded that they are appropriate because the constituent concentrations in the sands are below the agency’s health and environmental benchmarks. The EPA estimates that environmental benefits from using silica-based, spent foundry sands at the current use rate would result in energy savings equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 800 homes, CO2 emissions reductions of 840 cars, and water savings of 7.8 million gallons. 


Different types of by-product materials have been successfully co-processed as alternative fuels and raw materials in cement kilns in Europe, Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia. Among many opportunities identified with cement kiln co-processing is drilling waste generated by heightened oil and gas production in the United States.   500 tons of drill cuttings per well are oil-based mud with 30% oil content. This solid slurry material could meet the technical specifications of cement kiln co­-processing due to its heat value (5000 Btu/lb minimum, 8000 Btu/lb preferred), minimal halogen and heavy metal content, low radioactivity, and other pH value and sulfur content requirements. 

Transportation is the biggest obstacle for this material. Generators are concerned with the liability associated with transporting the mud over long distances. Loading and unloading can also be an issue. For now, cement plants cannot feed this solid slurry material into the kiln. Industry must invest in R&D solutions to develop a feeding mechanism. Oil and gas companies may collaborate with rail companies to drive down shipping costs. 


Spent sulfuric acid is a pH neutralizer and recovered globally. Spent sulfuric acid is a source of sulfur for a producer of SO2 or H2SO4 and is recoverable from spent H2SO4 regeneration companies. Fertilizer manufacturers and the metals industry may have interest in reusing this material. 

Spent sulfuric acid reuse not only helps eliminate the waste stream, but also reduces the alkali needed to neutralize the significant spent acid and wastewater treatment cost. Techniques for removing organic or inorganic impurities from the spent sulfuric acid is a research opportunity. Knowledge already exists regarding removal of chlorinated organics with activated carbon, removal of solid chlorinated organics by filtration, and treatment of the Cl2 with bisulfite without affecting the acid. 

Packaging & Shipping

Packaging and shipping materials make up a large portion of materials available in the marketplace. Some materials in this category, like pallets, are relatively simple to reuse or recycle. Others, like beverage cartons and multi-layered packaging presents a more difficult challenge.

Pre and Post-consumer Beverage Cartons | PACKAGING & SHIPPING

A significant volume of aseptic beverage carton material is available in the marketplace. These materials are printed, may have a poly coating, and have a thin layer of aluminum foil. Though this material can be recycled and made into new paper products, there are likely more cost-efficient and direct reuse opportunities in other applications, such as reusing the fiber and insulation composition of the carton into ceiling products.


While they are easily reusable, large quantities of pallets often remain sitting in warehouses due to damage or logistics challenges. Reuse opportunities available include repair and remanufacturing, using the wood to make furniture or other new products, or co-processing in cement kilns as an alternative fuel.

Drums and Totes | PACKAGING & SHIPPING

Most manufacturers use drums and totes to transport hazardous and non-hazardous liquids. They are drums and totes listings in the marketplace from multiple participants. One marketplace participant offers a reconditioning service which will serve as a good solution for these used containers if direct reuse is not an option.

Opportunities in Development

The following opportunities are currently in discussion between project participants as of October 2015. The majority of these transactions originated from recommendations made by our project team through the Materials Marketplace software. Environmental (calculated using Eco-LCA) and economic impact metrics are estimated - actual numbers may vary pending logistics and final quantity confirmations.

Sand Reuse: By-Product Silica Sand and Ground Silica

Quantity Available: 4,200 tons/year

Opportunity: Silica sand and ground silica are important feedstocks for sand production. Two companies are exploring the reuse of a silica by-product to to replace virgin feedstock.

Environmental Impact: 1,110 MT CO2e avoided; 4,200 tons/year diverted from landfill

Economic Impact: $172,000 per year in disposal savings and value creation


Co-processing: Cleaning Solvents

Quantity Available: 500 tons/year
Opportunity: These cleaning solvents meet the minimum calorific value requirements for cement kiln co-processing. Co-processing is a secure form of waste management that recovers both energy and mineral components from waste for use as fuel, and for product additives used in manufacturing processes.
Environmental Impact: 787 MT CO2e avoided; 500 tons/year diverted from incineration or alternative disposal

Economic Impact: $700,000 per year in disposal savings and value creation


Sand Additive: Bauxite Residue

Quantity Available: 2 million tons/year

Opportunity: One participant is researching and testing the use of bauxite residue to replace virgin feedstock, or as an additive in sand production. Both opportunities are being explored, however the later is more likely to be feasible.    

Environmental Impact: 14,400 MT CO2e avoided if all 2 million tons can be diverted; 2 million tons/year diverted from storage and/or disposal    


Co-processing: Bauxite Residue

Quantity Available: 2 million tons/year
Opportunity: Bauxite residue does not have as high of a calorific value as other materials typically used in cement kiln co-processing, however the material composition is similar. Co-processing may be able to recover a small amount of energy, but more importantly, the mineral components in the material.
Environmental Impact: 14,400 MT CO2e avoided if all 2 million tons can be diverted; 2 million tons/year diverted from storage and/or disposal

Economic Impact: $40 million per year in disposal/storage savings and value creation


Constructed Wetlands: Bauxite Residue

Quantity Available: 2 million tons/year    

Opportunity: Two participants are currently exploring the use of bauxite residue in a constructed wetland wastewater treatment system to remove phosphorous.    

Environmental Impact: 14,400 MT CO2e avoided if all 2 million tons can be diverted; 2 million tons/year diverted from storage and/or disposal

Economic Impact: TBD  


Co-processing: Aqueous Methanol

Quantity Available: 1,100 tons/year  

Opportunity: Aqueous Methanol does meet the minimum calorific value requirements for cement kiln co-processing. Co-processing is a secure form of waste management that recovers both energy and mineral components from waste for use as fuel, and for product additives used in manufacturing processes.    

Environmental Impact: 1,731 MT CO2e avoided; 1,100 tons/year diverted

Economic Impact: $1.5 million per year in disposal savings and value creation    


Co-processing: Drilling Mud

Quantity Available: 5,000 tons/month

Opportunity: In certain situations, oil well drilling mud meets the minimum calorific value requirements for cement kiln co-processing, however transportation of the material presents a challenge. Co-processing is a secure form of waste management that recovers both energy and mineral components from waste for use as fuel, and for product additives used in manufacturing processes.    

Environmental Impact: TBD    

Economic Impact: TBD       


Chemical Reuse: HCl By-Products 

Quantity Available: TBD

Opportunity: Bauxite residue is high in alkalinity, and needs to be neutralized by acids before being stored or disposed of. Acidic by-product streams available in the marketplace may prove to be a good source after testing.

Environmental Impact: TBD

Economic Impact: TBD    


Container Reconditioning: Totes and Drums

Quantity Available: 83 tons/year  

Opportunity: One participant collects, cleans, reshapes, reconditions, remanufactures and tests industrial drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for reuse and recycling, extending the life of the products and responsibly recycling their component materials at the end of their life cycles.    

Environmental Impact: 390 MT CO2e avoided; 83 tons/year diverted from landfill  

Economic Impact: $32,700 per year in disposal savings and value creation      

Opportunities Explored & Dismissed

Data on what doesn’t work is equally important as data that does work, often revealing detailed information on material composition and applications, and important logistics barriers to be applied in future transactions down the road. The following transactions were initiated through the materials marketplace software, but ultimately canceled or put on hold.

Totes and Drums

Recipient: Container Industry    

Opportunity: The recipient collects, cleans, reshapes, reconditions, remanufactures and tests industrial drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for reuse and recycling, extending the life of the products and responsibly recycling their component materials at the end of their life cycles.    

Reason for Cancellation: This transaction was put on hold due to logistics challenges, but will be revisited in Phase 2 of the pilot project.    


Aqueous Methanol

Recipient: Chemical Industry    

Opportunity: Reuse in manufacturing processes    

Reason for Cancellation: The ethanol and propanol are undesirable impurities that created side reactions.    


Vinyl Acetate Bottoms

Recipient: Cement Industry
Opportunity: Co-processing in cement kilns    

Reason for Cancellation: The Btu value for VA Bottoms is sufficient for cement kiln co-processing, however, receiving facilities must be willing and able to accept hazardous materials. No facilities accepting hazardous materials are near the production site.    


Vinyl Acetate Bottoms

Recipient: Metals Industry    

Opportunity: pH neutralizer for bauxite residue
Reason for Cancellation: VA bottoms has some constituents that are prohibited from direct ground application by RCRA. However, this research did lead to the discovery of a HCl by-product for the same application.    


Resin Oil C

Recipient: Cement Industry

Opportunity: Cement kiln co-processing - a secure form of waste management that recovers both energy and mineral components from waste for use as fuel, and for product additives used in manufacturing processes.    

Reason for Cancellation: The flash point of the material is too low for co-processing.    


Steel Offal

Recipient: Chemical Industry

Opportunity: Reuse in new products    

Reason for Cancellation: The recipient’s fabricators require a very specific type of steel, with certifying paperwork to insure those specifications. This by-product stream did not meet those specifications.    


Steel Offal

Recipient: Container Industry    

Opportunity: Reuse in new products    

Reason for Cancellation: This by-product did not meet the right specifications to be used in the recipient’s manufacturing and remanufacturing processes.    

Additional Opportunities Identified

Glycol Ether Product - Chemical recovery
Cellulosic Product - Chemical recovery
Wood pallets - Reuse to make furniture
Wood - Raw materials replacement
Wood - Raw materials replacement
Resourcinol - Cement kiln co-processing
Sand - Raw materials replacement
Used oil - Cement kiln co-processing
Resourcinol - Chemical recovery
Natural leather scrap - Raw materials replacement
Textile scrap - Raw materials replacement
Spent lime dust     - Cement kiln co-processing
Hot baghouse material - Cement kiln co-processing
Cold baghouse material - Cement kiln co-processing
Refractory - Cement kiln co-processing
Cold mill filter media - Cement kiln co-processing
Biological WWTP sludge - Cement kiln co-processing
Neutralite baghouse waste - Cement kiln co-processing
Spent lime dust - Mine reclaimation
Aluminum bed filter media - Al recovery
Aluminum dross - Al recovery
Kraft paper pulp tea bags - Textile production
Kraft paper pulp tea bags - Textile production
Kraft paper pulp tea bags - Reuse in ceiling products
Pre and post-consumer beverage cartons - Reuse in ceiling products

Ceramic microsphere - Cement kiln co-processing
Powder coating fines - Cement kiln co-processing
Nitrile clay - Cement kiln co-processing
Wet aluminium oxide - Al recovery
Wet aluminium oxide - Al recovery
Electrolytic paste - Cement kiln co-processing
Geopolymer - Cement kiln co-processing
Carbon dust - Cement kiln co-processing
Underpot material - Cement kiln co-processing
Carbon dust - Raw materials replacement
Flat fiberglass mats - Reuse in products
ME hydrocarbons - Cement kiln co-processing
ME hydrocarbons - Chemical recovery
Heat transfer salt - Chemical recovery
Spent sulfuric acid - Chemical recovery
Offspec Saran resin - Cement kiln co-processing
Polypropylene glycol ether - Cement kiln co-processing
Propanol flush - Cement kiln co-processing
Glycol Ether Product - Cement kiln co-processing
MagSil filter solids - Cement kiln co-processing
Cellulosic Product - Cement kiln co-processing
PAG lubricants - Cement kiln co-processing
Copolymer beads - Raw materials replacement
Polypropylene glycol ether - Chemical recovery

Supply Chain Innovation

As the United States Materials Marketplace project evolves, select opportunities to rethink and disrupt complex and challenging market segments are emerging. These opportunities will be captured and organized into working groups within the marketplace project. Through these working groups, the project will engage with critical stakeholders and work to establish new, more efficient, and/or higher value links in the supply chain. Two working groups have surfaced during the pilot project focusing on plastics and transportation, outlined below.


Project participants provided feedback that materials like PET and polypropylene are in short supply. The project team anticipates utilizing the marketplace to examine, discover, and connect industrial, pre-consumer and post-consumer sources of these and other materials. 

For example, GM is examining ways to manufacture various auto parts from recycled plastics. The company is finding ways to collect and process PET bottles from its own internal waste streams and feed the material into its manufacturing process. It is adopting a supply chain approach toward increased circularity, which not only helps secure supply base, but also close the loop of plastics. Currently, this project is under development with processes started, end users identified, and PET material earmarked to flow through the project after full implementation.  


Supply chain innovation isn’t limited to physical materials, but extends to a variety of underutilized resources. A second working group focused on transportation and logistics is in development, with a goal of helping transportation companies avoid “moving air” and establish a low-cost secondary transportation market that matches excess transportation resources with moving reusable materials. This solution may be common on a company level, but it has not been applied across industries using a systems approach. 

Transporters, material owners, and users could work through the details of a secondary transportation market by using the marketplace as the negotiating, testing and proving ground. One example is excess carbon fiber from an industrial manufacturer that is an input to the computer manufacturing industry. Due to its light weight, transportation costs make reuse unfeasible. If negotiations result in empty freight-miles substituted by partial freight capacity miles at discounted prices, all parties involved could win. This kind of cross-industry supply chain arrangement could be enabled through the marketplace platform.