Tamara Lundgren is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Schnitzer Steel, one of North America’s largest metal recyclers and a manufacturer of steel from 100 percent recycled metal. The organization works daily to ensure a future with less waste, more natural resources, and cleaner air. Schnitzer turns the old into new, enables the obsolete to become reusable, and builds better communities in the process. The company plays a significant role in the circular economy, using end-of-life products as starting points in its supply chain. And while the company’s operations primarily involve B2B interactions, many of the materials it sources are household products that contain valuable resources.
Tamara says, “Think about your last major purchase – maybe it was a new car or a washer and dryer for your home. Regardless of the product, you were likely replacing a previous possession with a new one. You might not have given much thought to what happened to the item you replaced – but we did.”
By processing end-of-life cars, railcars, appliances, and other industrial materials, Schnitzer delivers recycled commodities that successfully meet the growing demand for dozens of metals across various industries. Many low carbon technologies like electric vehicles, solar, and wind power are much more metal intensive than the technologies they are replacing. Using recycled materials in metal production reduces carbon intensity massively, a trend accepted by manufacturers in the US and increasingly around the globe.
The Steadfast Leader
Tamara joined Schnitzer Steel in 2005 as the Chief Strategy Officer and moved through positions of increasing responsibility, including her time as Chief Operating Officer. In 2008, she was appointed President and CEO and joined the Board of Directors. In 2020, Tamara took on the additional role as Chairman of the organization.
She says, “I have been honored to lead the transformation of Schnitzer from a regional Pacific Northwest company, with three export facilities reaching customers in three countries, to a company operating over 100 facilities throughout North America, including seven deep-water ports located on both coasts of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, a retail auto parts business with over four million annual retail visits, and a steel manufacturing business which manufactures finished steel products used in infrastructure and commercial projects.”
Under Tamara’s leadership, Schnitzer accomplished its growth through acquisitions and significant capital investments in new technologies, which have increased the company’s platform, provided significant operating efficiencies, and expanded its product lines to meet the growing need for metal content requirements for its global customers.
Before joining Schnitzer , Tamara served as Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. She has also served as a partner in the D.C. Law Firm of Hogan and Hartson, LLP.
At present, Tamara also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a member of the Board of Directors of Ryder System, Inc., and a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board. She has recently completed her term as a member of the President’s Advisory Policy for Trade Policy and Negotiations, having been appointed by President Obama in 2016 and reappointed by President Trump in 2018. Tamara is also a member of the Business Roundtable, the China Center Advisory Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the President’s Advisory Council of Wellesley College.
Mission and Vision
Schnitzer has been around for over a century; although the size, scale, and global reach have changed dramatically since 1906, the organization’s primary mission is still the same: recycling and resource conservation.
Tamara says, “We rely on our vision to guide our future: Recycling today for a sustainable tomorrow. And we anchor ourselves to a purpose to help define and direct our actions: Operating at the intersection of metals recovery, reuse, recycling, and manufacturing, we are committed to taking actions that sustain future generations and to working responsibly to provide products and services that our customers and communities trust – as we have since 1906.”
One can easily understand Schnitzer’s vision of a sustainable future through its core values- safety, sustainability, and integrity. All these together define the organization’s workplace culture and illustrate what matters most to its stakeholders. Its vision manifests itself through its employees, customer and community partnerships, the implementation of innovative technologies, diverse product offerings, and the commitment to sustainable operations that keep it moving toward net zero.
Preparing for the Future
Schnitzer’s sustainability framework of People, Planet, and Profit is the foundation upon which the company’s results are achieved. During fiscal 2021, Schnitzer reached its goal of 100% net carbon-free electricity use at the company’s facilities ahead of the company’s 2022 target and successfully reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 19% versus its fiscal 2019 baseline.
Tamara says, “Earlier this year, I was also pleased to announce the launch of GRN Steel™, a line of net zero carbon emissions products from our Cascade steel mill. By introducing this new product line, Cascade has created some of the world’s lowest carbon emission steel products, exemplifying our long-standing reputation for delivering innovative products that meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers.”
As the organization’s leader, Tamara also knows that low-carbon technologies of the future require more metals than the technologies they are replacing.
Our sustainable business model has never been more important than it is today. As global trends continue to support the growth of lower carbon-based economies, the demand for metal-based products, especially those produced from recycled materials, will increase significantly in the years ahead. Whether it is driven by the demand for electric cars, the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure, or the efficiency and convenience of “smart cities,” a green economy means a more metal-intensive economy.
“We intend to build on our past successes and be the most trusted partner in this transformation as companies, governments, and communities across the globe adopt these low-carbon technologies,” states Tamara.