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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Curtis Screw Company

Curtis Screw Company, Incorporated, Buffalo


Curtis Screw Company is located in Buffalo, NY, and employs 315 people to manufacture screw machine products for the automotive industry. Driven by an increase in business and a need to find additional manufacturing space, Curtis Screw decided to clean up, renovate, and remodel an old industrial building into a new state-of-the-art screw machine facility. Because of this renovation, Curtis Screw reduced or eliminated a number of hazardous waste streams by substituting and switching to more environmentally friendly processes.

Methodologies and Procedures

With team management from Curtis Screw and technical help from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the company made discoveries that led to solutions that were both economically and environmentally superior to the old process. In other words, cleaner and safer can also be more profitable. Capital equipment purchases and process changes have optimized Curtis Screw's operations from both the manufacturing and environmental perspective.

1,1,1-Trichloroethane Reduction

Experimentation with alternative degreasing methods led the company to install an aqueous part-cleaning process at Plant II in 1990. During this same period, 1,1,1-trichloroethane usage at Plant I was increasing due to production demands. As a result of the Plant II experience, an improved parts cleaning system was purchased for Plant I in 1993. Vapor degreasing with 1,1,1-trichloroethane ended by August of 1995. Curtis Screw estimates that over 100 tons of 1,1,1-trichloroethane would be required to adequately degrease the volume of production parts that are now cleaned with aqueous-based solvents.

Oily Parts Washing Waste

A major unexpected result of the new parts-cleaning process that replaced 1,1,1-trichloroethane vapor degreasing was the generation of significant quantities of dirty cutting oil wastes. With help from NYSDEC's Multimedia Pollution Prevention program and their own experience, Curtis Screw performed a careful environmental, economic, and engineering analysis which ultimately resulted in the company selecting a commercial evaporator to reduce the volume of this waste. Volume reduction levels reached 80 percent and the remainder of this waste is now recycled by the conventional used-oil reclamation program.

Used Cutting Oil, "Enhanced Collection/Recovery/Recycle Program"

Oil drip pans have replaced wooden skids, and metal drip trays have been placed under most machinery. The recovered oil is returned to the re-circulating oil system. Thanks to NYSDEC's Multimedia Pollution Prevention program, a method was found to modify existing and new screw machines with the innovative use of coil springs as parts chutes. This improvement has allowed maximum removal of oil from parts before they exit the machine and are placed in pans for aqueous washing.

Oil-absorbing cleaning compound, which required off-site disposal, was replaced with conventional emulsifying non-toxic soap-and-water mopping solution. This solution can now be put into an evaporator allowing complete recovery and recycling of the oil.

High efficiency dust collectors and oil de-misters were purchased and installed. The oil de-misters draw and filters heavily oil laden air from machine interiors. This process separates the oil, returns it to the oil re-circulation system, and returns clean air to the workplace.


Hazardous waste was reduced from 104 tons per year to less than 3 tons per year.

Waste reduced 100 percent representing 42 tons per year.

Over 100 tons per year of used oil has been recovered and recycled.

Air emissions of 1,1,1-trichloroethane were reduced by 100 percent representing 42 tons per year.

About 96 percent of the solid waste generated is recycled amounting to 3546 tons per year.

The combined overall annual savings from all of Curtis Screw's pollution prevention efforts are estimated at $452,000.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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