The one constant in the 30 years of ISRI’s history is change and 2017 was no different for the recycling industry. ISRI, as the Voice of the Recycling Industry, has helped the industry and its members navigate the seas of change over the years and in many cases, acted as an agent of change itself.
Many will look back at 2017 as the year China announced its ban on certain scrap imports. While this dramatically alters the landscape of our industry, many other changes are taking place causing the industry to evolve as it has so many times in the past. Changes in the Administration in the U.S., shifting global trade policies, new technology, an overhaul of the U.S. tax structure, and more have all impacted business, markets, and trade. Throughout all
of this, the one constant has been ISRI working hard to assist and advocate on behalf of ISRI members and the recycling industry.
The year started with a new administration and Congress taking control in Washington, promising change and possible deregulation. In response, ISRI developed a comprehensive advocacy agenda focused on six broad issue areas: taxes and the economy, international trade, energy and the environment, transportation and infrastructure development, workplace safety initiatives, and regulatory policy. Despite the deadlocked Congress and delays in political appointments, ISRI efforts secured some significant victories in Washington, including: the U.S. Mint resuming its mutilated coin redemption program, and a tax reform package that offers significant benefits for the recycling industry.
As part of our ongoing focus on state issues, ISRI once again was a sponsor of the annual Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, held in Boston where ISRI members educated thousands of state legislators and others on the scope of our industry and how recycling is much bigger than the curbside bin. Huge thanks are due to the New England Chapter for representing the industry so well at the event and donating scrap materials to create a vibrant recycling exhibit.
Internationally, ISRI acted on numerous priority issues, including working aggressively to activate the U.S. government and other entities around the world to address China’s scrap import ban. As the Trump Administration announced plans to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement, ISRI took the lead in forming a coalition representing North American recycling with the goal of protecting the essential, market-based flow of scrap commodities among our countries.
Staying focused on safety, ISRI’s core value, ISRI launched a number of new programs
and training tools in 2017 to support ISRI members and help the recycling industry invest
in the health and safety of their employees. This included safety training for powered
industrial vehicle operators and hazard recognition. In addition, ISRI revised its safety blueprint, providing more of a safety culture assessment for operations and received
approval from OSHA’s Susan Harwood grant program to develop a new training program
on machine guarding.
ISRI continued to provide the tools and resources needed for the association and its members to advocate for and share the economic importance of recycling. Once again, ISRI issued its annual Recycling Industry Yearbook, a top source for industry-specific statistics. We also released our biannual economic impact study showing the job growth, tax revenue, and trade benefit of the industry. ISRI also expanded its library of data resources by creating a custom international trade database to show the flow of recyclables across the globe.
As the industry is truly global in nature, ISRI has increased its international outreach.
This includes now offering ISRI’s Scrap Specifications Circular in Chinese for the first time. While our specs are the gold-standard in guidelines for buying and trading scrap commodities, having them translated helps facilitate global trade.
ISRI also continues to increase its public outreach through partnerships with other organizations such as Keep America Beautiful. Together, we hosted a forum on America Recycles Day that specifically addressed key issues facing the plastics recycling industry,
and bringing together stakeholders from the recycling industry, government, community organizations, and Fortune 500 corporations, many who had never worked together before.
In 2017, ISRI also moved into a new office location that through its design and construction showcases the commodities, contains an industry education center, and has the ability to
host training programs for ISRI members.
Looking forward to 2018, two things are certain: with such a dynamic industry, we will once again witness change, and ISRI will be there to lead the industry through that change.
Chair, Utah Metal Works, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT