MARCH 2008

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Systech Environmental Corporation
Erica Hawk • 800-888-8011 ext. 3113
A Closer Look

Founded in 1969 by a group of engineers, Systech Environmental Corporation (SEC) began as a consulting company. In 1979, SEC opened its first hazardous fuel quality waste operation in Paulding, Ohio where the waste was used to fuel a General Portland cement kiln.

SEC’s corporate website defines the company as “the link between companies that produce or consolidate fuel quality waste and/or byproducts and our cement kiln partners that use these wastes in place of fossil fuels.” Cement is made by heating raw materials to about 2,700 degrees in a rotary kiln, and those kilns are ideal for burning both hazardous and nonhazardous waste.

Now, the General Portland facility where SEC got its start is owned by Lafarge, a cement and construction materials manufacturer, and in 1986, SEC became a wholly owned subsidiary of Lafarge. In 1990, Erica Hawk joined the company as a corporate marketing specialist. She offered her insights into the company’s operations.

Hawk said, “From 1979 to the late 1990s, Systech’s hazardous waste business had the most growth. In the early 1990s, the nonhaz business began and is now the sector where we have the most growth and the most potential for growth.”

While the engineers who started the company have since retired, they still play a role in the company as members of SEC’s board of directors. The company now has 114 employees in the United States and Canada.

Hawk said, “We have five main business lines, four of which supply our partner cement manufacturing facilities with alternate fuel, which they use in place of fossil fuels” such as oil, coke and coal.

The fifth business line supplies raw material substitutes to the cement plants. The substitutes replace the limestone, shale, alumina and silica in the cement. SEC is active in finding the raw material substitutes at two of the Lafarge locations, while Lafarge manages this function at many of the other United States and Canadian plants.

The entire process, called co-processing, uses the byproducts of one industry to make the products of another.

Two of the company’s locations use both hazardous and nonhazardous fuel quality waste in the form of liquid, sludge or suspendable solids. During each of the past three years, SEC processed an average of 46 million gallons of fuel quality waste at these locations. Common fuel quality waste includes paint, solvents, diesel fuel, grease and oil, paint thinner, ink, carbon and petroleum refinery waste.

Seven of the locations use scrap tires. One ton of tires, approximately 100 auto tires, produces the energy equivalent of 2,500 pounds of coal.

Six of the locations can use nonhazardous byproducts, including alternate solid fuels such as paper, plastic, rubber and textiles, and seven can use nonhazardous used oil. “All the material we receive has BTU value,” Hawk said, “and is used on site at our cement partner’s manufacturing locations.”

Hawk said that the company draws material from a wide variety of sources to supply its four business lines. “We cover most industries,” she said. “…chemical, paint/coating, refining, automotive, packaging. A wide range of manufacturers, recyclers.”

As far as the future, Hawk said, “As the general interest in sustainability grows within manufacturing industries, we see growth potential in all our business lines. We use these materials, recover their energy value and help make a product, so after either reducing, reusing or recycling, our service is a greener option than some other disposal methods.”

Hawk said that one business challenge is that being green is not always easy for a customer. “In the nonhaz sector, a lot depends on a customer’s commitment to sustainability and a willingness to do what it takes to use a greener disposal option.” She also said that customers recognize SEC’s “customer focus and willingness to work with our customers to find solutions.”

Along with challenges come opportunities. Hawk said that she enjoys the fact that the business “constantly changes, and there are always new areas to develop.”