Welcome to AFS-FIRST, your information source on recycling foundry sands and other metalcasting byproducts. AFS-FIRST is an independent non-profit association that is the successor organization to Foundry Industry Recycling Starts Today (FIRST). The organization exists to educate foundries, end users, government agencies and other partners about the benefits of using foundry byproducts.
The focus of AFS-FIRST is to:
- Promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of metalcasting industry byproducts through education, research and communication;
- Develop educational partnerships with governmental agencies, universities, associations and corporations;
- Conduct and sponsor research in cooperation with governmental agencies, universities, associations and corporations.
Foundry sand is used to build molds and cores for use in the metalcasting process. The sand is reused and recycled numerous times internally by the foundry before it is rendered unusable. Approximately, 6‒10 million tons of foundry sand is discarded each year. AFS conducted a baseline survey of sand reuse practices revealing that foundries were recycling and reusing 28 percent of discarded sands in non-landfill applications.
AFS-FIRST is leading the industry’s efforts to promote foundry sand as a viable fine aggregate in many common applications. Foundry sand is one of the non-hazardous industrial materials that are the focus of intensive market development efforts by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In January 2015, EPA released its final foundry sand risk assessment that concluded silica-based spent foundry sands are safe to use in soil-related applications. The U.S. EPA estimates that the current level of foundry sand used in construction applications and manufactured soil results in the prevention of 20,000 tons of CO2 emissions and the saving of over 200 billion BTUs. By increasing the amount of foundry sands reused each year, the stakeholder community will achieve measurable environmental improvements while moving the nation closer to a shared vision of sustainable materials management. The activities, tools and resources described herein, as well as the links to off-site resources, are all part of a coordinated program to achieve that goal.