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  • ISRI Continues Leadership Positions on Key REMADE Committees

    Oct 03, 2019

    ISRI continues to play an integral in the many different aspects of industry innovation and research development. Its involvement and selection to leadership roles in the REMADE Institute is a clear indication of the important role ISRI plays in both the industry’s current landscape, and its future.

    The Reducing EMbodied-Energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute is a public-private partnership in the Manufacturing USA® network with members from academia, industry, non-profit sector, and national laboratories. With up to $70 million in Department of Energy funds over 5 years matched by the private sector, REMADE is tasked with advancing manufacturing through research and development into technologies aimed at “addressing knowledge gaps that will eliminate and/or mitigate the technical and economic barriers that prevent greater material recycling, recovery, remanufacturing and reuse.”

    For the last several years ISRI has played a key role offering industry expertise, and serving as a conduit between ISRI members and REMADE. ISRI President Robin Wiener serves on REMADE’s Strategic Advisory Committee as Affiliate representative and vice chair. In her role, she advises on the organization’s Strategic Investment Plan, membership, IP management, and manufacturing issues.

    ISRI Chief Scientist David Wagger was just re-elected to the position of Affiliate representative on the Technical Advisory Committee. In his role, David will continue to advise on the organization’s technical roadmap and technology priorities.


  • New York Chapter President Represents ISRI at New York Lunch with U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

    Sep 27, 2019

    On Monday September 23, ISRI’s New York Chapter President Leonard Formato, Jr. represented ISRI at a very intimate luncheon of ten guests featuring United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler. In addition to Lenny Formato of Empire Metal Trading in Brooklyn, NY, were representatives of the chemical, agricultural, and oil industries, as well as some of the nations’ largest corporations.

    The lunch was sponsored by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) of which ISRI is a member. The discussion addressed American innovation and initiatives to tackle global environmental challenges. Also discussed were opportunities for public/private partnerships to advance U.S. competitiveness through investment in environmental infrastructure and cleaner technologies. 

    Administrator Wheeler advised the guests that EPA is aware of the challenges facing the recycling industry today. Subsequent to the meeting, Formato was able to spend a few minutes with Mr. Wheeler.

    “On behalf  of ISRI and its 1,300 plus members, I thanked the Administrator  for coming to speak at ISRI’s July Board meeting, and for recognizing the challenges facing our industry today. I found the luncheon to be very informative and productive. The opportunity to have lunch with Administrator Wheeler and a small group of major industry executives and discuss environmental issues facing all of our industries was unique for me. I got to experience a small slice of what our Association’s staff does for us – to whom they are exposed and the kind of discussions they have.”

    If you are a Chapter President or a leader of the industry in other capacities, and would like to participate in similar types of meetings that may occur near your business and for which ISRI has been invited to participate, please let us know. ISRI staff will look out for those opportunities in your backyards and try to get you a seat at the table. Contact Mark Reiter for further details.
  • President Trump Visits Pratt Industries' New 100% Recycled Paper Mill

    Sep 23, 2019

    Recognizing the important role paper recycling plays in American manufacturing, U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday toured Pratt Industries’ containerboard mill in Wapakoneta, Ohio.  The event was broadcast live on at least one national cable channel. Pratt Industries, is a member of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), and the Paper Stock Industries (PSI) Chapter. 


    Accompanying the President during the tour, and during the press conference was Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and company owner Anthony Pratt. The President explicitly stated that not one tree is used in the manufacture of Pratt's paper at their 100% recycled paper mills. 

    The Ohio facility, Pratt Industries' fifth 100% recycled paper mill in the U.S., is scheduled to open in October, and will consume 425,000 tons of mixed paper and old corrugated containers as feedstock. It represents the largest factory pledged and built during President Trump’s first term.

    In 2017, Anthony Pratt vowed to invest $2 billion in the U.S. over the next decade and create 5,000 high-paying jobs. In addition to the plant in Wapakoneta, Pratt has also built factories in Valparaiso, Indiana; Lewisburg, Ohio; and Beloit, Wisconsin. Combined, these investments have totaled over $1 billion, and are an example of the continued growth of paper recycling in the U.S. Overall, Pratt Industries employs 9,000 Americans.

    "Over the past 18 months the paper recycling markets in North America have been quite challenging due to the tumultuous export markets," stated Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. "Due to investments by ISRI members such as Pratt's, in this new paper mill, there will be a new domestic market in the Midwest for nearly 1 billion pounds of recycled paper each year."

    The U.S. paper recycling industry as a whole provides a nearly $34 billion economic impact in the U.S. It is directly and indirectly responsible for 154,000 American jobs.

  • One Recycler’s Tips for Handling Batteries

    Jun 19, 2019

    Recently an ISRI member visited a large battery recycling facility and was given a tour by the facility EHS manager. The facility handles large quantities of lithium and other types of batteries monthly, and he wanted to share some takeaways from that visit along with some proactive measures that his company is taking to minimize risks to employees, equipment, and the facilities. Here is the member’s take on that visit:

    First of all, the recycling facility had a very sophisticated fire detection and suppression systems that may not be achievable for smaller handlers, but there are several things that I feel we can all do to minimize our risks:

    • For hot or smoking batteries, bright red labeled buckets are located around our facility that contain Cell Block EX, which is a Class D fire extinguishing media
    • Bags of Cell Block EX are located in and near our battery storage area that can be quickly torn open and dumped into smoking gaylord boxes or barrels. It may not extinguish a fire, but it will certainly slow it down until the fire department can get there and take further action if needed. The battery recycler swears by this stuff and they have it everywhere around their facility.
    • Minimize storage time and storage quantities to keep lithium battery inventories as low as possible. Doing this is an additional expense to the company, but one that we feel is worth the cost. We investigated keeping inventory in a shipping container away from the facility, but we feel that heat build-up in the warmer months may create or cause additional hazards
    • Evaluate battery storage areas with your insurance company and fire alarm company for their suggestions. Also, we are looking into thermal imaging monitoring for quicker hot spot detection vs. heat and smoke sensors.
    • Solid steel shelving is being added to our storage racks to minimize upward fire spread. We are also painting shelf surfaces with truck bed liner so they are non-conductive.
    • We are running a water line to our e-scrap shredder with a gate valve next to the E-Stop so we can quickly shut down and flood the shredder chamber in the event of an emergency. Please let us know if anyone has better ideas out there for this one?
    • And we are always improving employee awareness and training programs in regards to battery safety.

    These batteries scare us, and there are enough horror stories out there that we think we’re doing the right thing by moving quickly with these proactive solutions and preventative actions.

    The hope is that some of this info helps you in keeping your employees and facilities safer. Please let us know if you have any other ideas or solutions that you’ve implemented at your facilities.

    Another great resource for safety information on lithium batteries is the Battery Council.

    Tony Smith is the director of safety outreach for ISRI.

  • Autocatalyst Recycling Outlook for 2019

    Feb 25, 2019

    by Becky Berube

    Looking back is always easier than looking forward. And last year was a good year for autocatalyst recycling. And for 2019 the outlook remains positive.

    Autocatalystimage22The strong demand for autocatalyst, increased vehicle recycling, and a short supply continues to push the Palladium price higher. Lower demand from the decrease of consumption of diesel vehicles in Europe combined with an increase of secondary supply from recycling continues to hold the Platinum price down. Stricter emission standards will increase Rhodium loadings, but that metal will still be in surplus.

    The demand for new automobile catalyst climbed to record levels last year amidst a shortage of palladium (Pd), a surplus of platinum (Pt), and an increasing supply of rhodium (Rh). You can see from Figure 1 that palladium makes up most of the precious metals contained in autocatalyst or catalytic converters.

    This is good news for palladium since palladium loadings have been increasing, mostly in the U.S. market, in autocatalyst since the 1990s. At that time the palladium technology was less advanced and the fuels less clean, which means more palladium was added than platinum removed. At the same time, palladium was historically less than half the price of platinum.

    Johnson Matthey in its PGM Market Report dated February 13, 2019, states that the secondary supply of palladium grew by 10 percent in 2018, after having a 20 percent gain in 2017. This is due to the increase in vehicle recycling once the scrap steel price bounced back from its lows during 2015 – 2016.

    And considering “dieselgate,” Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal, there have been stricter vehicle testing procedures and tighter emission limits on heavy duty vehicles. This contributes to higher demand for autocatalyst and use of Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), namely, Pt, Pd, and Rh.

    Autocatalyst Image

    Even with the decreased use of platinum in three-way catalyst over the past 20 years, and the reduction of diesel catalyst production which uses more platinum, a small rise in increased demand for platinum will come from fuel cell technology in automotive applications and stationary power generation over the next several years. See Figure 2.

     As emission standards tighten in most countries, rhodium loadings will also increase. Still this metal is expected to continue to be in surplus.

    Recently, I asked Philip Newman, the Director of Metals Focus (@metalsfocus), a London-based independent precious metals consultancy group to comment on the outlook for platinum and palladium in 2019. Here is what Philip had to say.

    Platinum has fallen to a record discount to gold of $526. That said, Metals Focus still expects platinum prices to eventually firm this year, especially towards end-2019. However, this is premised on our view of a stronger gold price. In other words, platinum will continue to face headwinds of unsupportive supply and demand.

    In trying to gauge professional investor sentiment in recent weeks, the absence of up-to-date CFTC data has led us to review Nymex open interest. Having fallen for much of January, open interest has since risen through to mid-February. In our view, subdued weak institutional sentiment towards platinum indicates that the rise in open interest represents an increase in gross short positions.

    Palladium has continued to strengthen this year, achieving a new record high of $1,439 on January 17. Key to this is the ongoing physical deficit in the palladium market, which this year is expected by Metals Focus to reach 1Moz.

    Autocatalyst Image

    Looking ahead, we believe palladium prices will continue rise this year. Even so, palladium’s record high prices increase the risk of near-term profit taking, although any downturn in the palladium price should be short-lived.

    In summary, 2018 was a great year for both vehicle and autocatalyst recycling. At this time, 2019 looks to be more of the same. This is why we, at United Catalyst Corporation, believe that recyclers can get the most from their converters with the scientific process of selling converters on assay. For questions  about selling converters on assay or copies of this article or previous articles in this series, email me or go to unitedcatalystcorporation.com.

    BeckyBerube2Becky Berube serves the recycling community as United Catalyst Corporation President, she writes a monthly educational column for the industry, serves as co-chair of the ARA Annual Convention Educational Programming Committee, is on the administrative team for the ARA Peer Mentoring Program, and is an Executive Committee member of the IPMI. She can be reached at 864-834-2003 or by email at berube@unitedcatalystcorporation.com.

  • Protection of a Valued USPS Asset: Everyone Can Save Postal Dollars

    Dec 18, 2018
    By Postal Inspector Claudia Angel 

     Among the types of equipment used are: plastic and wood pallets, plastic tray and tubs, canvas and plastic hampers, general purpose carts, and bulk mail containers to move the mail. In the past 10 years, the Postal Service purchased $1 billion of new postal MTE to replenish inventory and ensure that both our business and our customers can function effectively. Protecting all postal equipment is a balancing act affected by many external and internal sources.

    Although rare, we have encountered situations at times where businesses and/or individuals kept excess amounts of postal equipment, and on occasion, have sold them to other businesses including recyclers. It is important that this equipment is returned to the Postal Service as the replacement costs add up quickly. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the federal law enforcement arm of the Postal Service, charged with securing the mail and postal assets. The Inspection Service is requesting your assistance in the recovery of postal equipment.

    Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1707, states it is illegal to misuse postal-owned equipment. Violation of this statute is punishable with up to three years imprisonment with fines.

    Criminal investigations conducted by the Inspection Service have revealed improper use with large quantities of postal equipment destroyed or recycled. As a result, the Postal Service is losing millions of dollars yearly in replacement costs.

    The Postal Service does not sell postal equipment, and postal employees do not have the authority to do so, regardless of its condition. Damaged equipment is only disposed of through a limited number of certified recyclers. It is illegal to sell or recycle postal equipment. If a company is in possession of postal equipment which it is not actively being used in conducting business with the Postal Service, it may be interpreted that the company is in illegal possession of postal MTE. 

    The Inspection Service has been directed by the Chief Postal Inspector to conduct reviews at mailer and recycling facilities nationwide in order to recover postal MTE not actively being used in conducting business with the Postal Service and to educate the general public on how to identify the postal equipment and have it returned to the Postal Service. If you should encounter postal equipment at your business which is not being used in conjunction with doing business with the Postal Service, or if you are aware of a situation of postal equipment being improperly used, please contact our Mail Transportation Equipment Recovery Hotline at 866-330-3404; upon doing so, you will be contacted by a Postal Service representative who will arrange to have the postal MTE returned to the possession of the Postal Service.

    Postal Inspector Claudia Angel currently serves as Program Manager at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service National Headquarters in Washington, DC. Inspector Angel oversees the Cybercrime Digital Product Security program in evaluating and recommending security controls, prevention, monitoring, detection and reporting for new/modified digital products developed or supported by the U.S. Postal Service. 

    Angel was appointed to the position of United States Postal Inspector for the United States Postal Inspection Service in August 2001 where she was assigned to the San Juan Field Office of the Newark Division and dedicated the first 10 years of her career conducting investigations throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • Training with Local Fire Department a Winning Partnership

    Jun 21, 2018

    By Peter Van Houten 

    Over the past year the Portland Fire Department and Bob’s Metals Inc. have partnered in creating hands-on emergency response training opportunities with simulated rescue situations created by the Bob’s Metals yard staff.

    BobsMetalsThese experiences have included crash scenarios of multiple sized vehicles, enabling the fire department opportunities to test out and train on new cutting and lifting equipment to gain access to the ‘crash victim.’ The Portland Fire Department has an exceptional training facility, at Station 2, but one of the benefits in working with Bob’s Metals is dealing with the unknown. Part of the excitement is enabling our yard staff to create the scenario, and they seek to make it difficult.

    This past scenario included a Honda that had lodged itself underneath a full-size garbage truck, requiring the response team to assess gaining access to the injured driver by stabilizing/lifting the garbage truck and cutting away the doors and roof of the Honda. Overall feedback from the fire department is that they like the ‘surprise’ element of the scenario, making them analyze the situation to best utilize their skills and tools to perform.

    BobsMetals“I am very appreciative of the support that Bob’s Metals has provided station 8. As an officer, it is important for me to conduct routine drills, especially with operations that we do not perform very often, i.e. vehicle stabilization, extrication, and lifting. Furthermore, I feel it important to keep Truck 8 in our district instead of going to the other side of the city...the north end resources can be quickly depleted, so staying in district allows us to cut and run from a drill if need be.” – Lt. Justin De Ruyter

    Working together these scenarios not only provide the Fire Department with a more realistic training situation, but increases the awareness of employees to our own emergency plans and working relationships with emergency personnel. A win-win example in community partnership.

    Peter Van Houten is general manager of ISRI member Bob’s Metals, Inc.

  • Century Club to Have Its Day at ISRI2018

    Mar 12, 2018

    -By Manny Bodner and Barry Hunter

    Anyone who has a combined age and years of active participation in ISRI and/or its predecessor organizations, Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, National Association of Recycling Industries, and/or Paper Stock Institute that meets or exceeds 100 years, whether or not you are still working, is encouraged to join this prestigious group.

    ISRI’s Century Club is intended to provide members with a means to maintain the industry relationships and friendships developed over the years, as well as the opportunity to contribute knowledge and expertise to the ever-growing and ever-changing scrap recycling industry.

    With the complete support of ISRI leadership, our first official meeting of ISRI’s Century Club will occur during ISRI2018, on April 17. Dubbed “Century Club Day at ISRI2018”, members will begin the day by teaming up with ISRI’s Young Executives group for a light-hearted and fun session during which the Century Club and Young Execs will discuss the industry and its many changes over the years. Next, Century Club members will be invited to tour the ISRI2018 Exhibit Hall. The day concludes with a Century Club Member-Private reception.

    We hope all those who qualify will share in our excitement and take advantage of this opportunity to join your fellow ISRI Centenarians by embarking on this next phase of ISRI involvement – sharing fun programs, fond memories, and social events throughout the year as organized by the group.

    For more information and to apply for Century Club membership, please visit the ISRI website and complete the application.

    England has Sir Winston Churchill; the USA has FDR; the ISRI Centenarians have Barry and Manny!” – Many Bodner. Manny can be reached at (713) 248-0396.

    Barry Hunter is the catalyst behind the effort to organize the ISRI Century Club, and will continue as Co-Chair alongside Manny Bodner. Barry can be reached at (201) 259- 5075.

  • Planning for the Storm

    Sep 21, 2017

    Natural disasters are an ever-present threat, and there’s evidence to suggest they’re occurring with greater frequency and severity. Recently, Texas and its neighboring states were left devastated by the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey. Just days later, Hurricane Irma battered the Caribbean and delivered a destructive blow to South Florida.  According to NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information 2016 claimed the 2nd highest annual number of U.S. billion-dollar disasters, shortly behind 2011. Given the unprecedented amount of damage left by both Harvey and Irma, 2017 is expected to top both record-high years.                               

    If a natural disaster struck your facility, would your company and employees be prepared? Your answer to that question could determine whether your employees escape injury and whether your company survives or fails in the disaster’s wake. Natural disasters can injure a company’s employees, damage property, disrupt operations, and threaten its future viability. Though businesses can’t control natural disasters or prevent them from occurring, they can prepare for them by developing an emergency preparedness and recovery plan. Such a plan can protect human health while helping the company swiftly re-establish normal business operations.

    First Things First

    Companies have several options for drafting a plan: They can prepare their own, hire a consultant, or work with local and/or state agencies.

    For recyclers who lack such firsthand experience or need assistance developing a plan, FEMA offers the Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry, a free, step-by-step guide to emergency planning, response, and recovery for businesses of all sizes. The guide presents information on specific disasters, such as tornadoes and earthquakes, as well as general information on preparedness. The “Ready” campaign—a joint effort of FEMA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—also provides information to help businesses prepare. Though these do-it-yourself resources are helpful, it is often beneficial to get outside help from third-party professionals.

    Building an Emergency Plan

    Though each recycling facility faces its own set of natural disaster risks based on its geographic location, climate, access to transportation and emergency services, and more, the process of developing any emergency preparedness plan can follow the same basic outline, experts say.

    • Assemble a team. Start by putting together a group of employees that will develop, manage, and update your company’s disaster plan. FEMA’s guide suggests having the CEO or plant manager lead the group to demonstrate management’s commitment to the plan.
    • Assess your risks. Natural disasters can take many forms, so begin by assessing which ones could affect your operations. Each type of disaster requires its own preparations and responses to mitigate or eliminate the risk. After identifying potential or likely disasters, assess the impact each could have on the company, including your supply chain or customers.

    Part of risk assessment is considering your plant’s physical structures and layout. If employees have to seek shelter at the facility—such as during a tornado—are there areas on site to shelter them?

    Risk assessment also means identifying essential business functions. Determine how long your company could withstand an interruption and what it would need to re-open. Additionally, identify an alternative, temporary location from which your company could operate after a disaster. Be sure to review your company’s insurance policies as well, to ascertain which losses will be covered.

    • Form a plan. After you identify your company’s risks, develop a plan to address them. Procedures should spell out how your staff will respond before, during, and after a disaster. Basic plan features should include procedures for warning employees and visitors of any impending danger; providing escape routes, if necessary; protecting vital records and assets; and getting the company running as soon as possible—even if it’s from a temporary location.

      A thorough plan should identify more than one evacuation route in case the initial one is blocked, designate meeting areas for employees, and have a system to account for every individual at the facility, including visitors, when the disaster occurred. Your plan also should have information about community evacuation routes, facility shutdown procedures, and plans for assisting employees who might need transportation, the FEMA guide says.
    • Communicate effectively. Communication—before, during, and after a disaster strikes—is a key component of any emergency preparedness plan. Your plan should designate one or more people who are responsible for informing employees about potential dangers as well as those who will contact customers and vendors after an event. Identify whom you would need to contact internally and externally during a crisis, and keep their contact information up to date. Don’t expect to be able to use traditional communication methods such as land-based telephone lines or cell phones, experts say. Companywide text message alerts and check-ins—which require less bandwidth than voice transmissions—are a smart alternative.

      After a disaster, a company spokesperson should inform the public that the facility is recovering to dispel any rumors of its closure.

    • Consider your equipment and technology needs. Emergency preparation also means protecting data and equipment as well as having the right equipment to expedite recovery. For the latter, consider backup equipment and systems such as gasoline-powered pumps to remove water, alternative power sources such as generators, and battery-powered emergency lighting, experts suggest.

      On the data side, ensure company leaders have quick access to insurance documents, and maintain off-site backup storage of critical company records, customer data, and other information.

    • Train and practice. An emergency preparedness plan won’t work, of course, unless you train employees on its features and their responsibilities. Ensure the company is ready to implement the disaster plan when a disaster strikes by practicing implementation at least once a year through full-scale drills.

    As your employees work through the drill, they should consider how to react during the first minutes, hours, days, and weeks of the event. The more companies practice their plans, the better prepared they’ll be.

    In the wake of a natural disaster, when life returns to normal, review how your company and personnel handled the crisis and the effectiveness of your plan.

    This blog post was adapted from “Weathering Any Storm,” Scrap magazine, July/August 2012, by Nicole Meir, communications intern for ISRI.

  • Plan Ahead for a Hurricane

    Sep 11, 2017

    Preparing a scrapyard for a hurricane should begin well before the winds start whipping.

    Creating, reviewing and revising an emergency response plan prior to storm season provides the optimal protection.

    In planning ahead, you can react sooner and avoid potentially disastrous oversights when a storm threatens. For example, knowing how you will secure equipment before a storm hits and communicate with employees afterward so that they know when it is safe to return will help you better protect your business and your people.

    “The time to plan is always before,” said Terry Cirone, vice president of safety for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. “So, if you could be in the path of a storm get out that plan, dust it off and review it.”

    Cirone advises recycling centers to be particularly proactive in preparing their communication plans, controlling mold, and protecting their records. “It’s all about business continuity and protecting your assets.”

    Some businesses recently impacted by Hurricane Harvey failed to protect their files from water damage, she said. “If they get so flooded out or water-logged that you can’t utilize them, then that’s a problem.”

    With Hurricane Irma’s arrival imminent and additional storms looming, Cirone urged businesses to prepare early and act quickly to stay safe.

    Here are some suggested steps.

    • Review responsibilities for preparations and response with everyone, including senior management.

    • Establish processes for storm-related communication between employees and managers, such as how to announce when the business will close and re-open as well as how employees can report that they cannot make it to work. Update all related phone numbers.

    • Secure equipment or materials that could be sent flying by strong winds.

    • Shut down electrical equipment that could be exposed to flooding.

    • Remove low-lying files and other property that could be damaged by high waters.

    • Check for mold caused by flooding. Hire experts to treat affected areas like walls and carpets if needed to protect the health of your employees and customers.

    See ISRI’s Safety Tips for Hurricane and Flooding Cleanup and Recovery Work for additional information.

    The post was written by ISRI member Scrapyard Pro and originally appeared on the ScrapyardPro Blog.

  • Safety Before—and Beyond—Compliance

    Aug 16, 2017

    By Tony Smith

    Those who have been in the scrap business for decades might remember operating before the 1970 passage of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. The act established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal body that creates and enforces workplace safety regulations. Since then, businesses have had to ensure their operations are in compliance with OSHA regulations or the state equivalent or risk facing steep penalties.

    Long before safety was required by law, however, it was something industries tried to achieve by implementing best practices, sharing industry knowledge, and coming to consensus around voluntary standards. One such standard for crane safety, ASME B30, was first developed just over a century ago, in 1916, via the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (New York). For those who used lift equipment such as mobile cranes, overhead cranes, slings, and rigging, this signaled a new beginning in the world of safety.

    Scrap operations today are very different from what they were in 1916, of course. ASME B30 and similar standards are living documents, and the process of creating, updating, and refining them continues to this day. The stakeholders and subject matter experts that volunteer for this work come from diverse backgrounds and offer many different points of view, but they work together to reach industry consensus. ISRI Safety works with two different standards development organizations, ASME and the American National Standards Institute (Washington, DC), to ensure standards for scrap processing equipment reflect the industry’s needs and concerns.

    Right now I represent ISRI members in the standards development process for ASME B30 and a second standard, ANSI/NWRA Z245. That standard, for equipment, technology, and operations for the waste and recyclable industry, is managed by ANSI and the National Waste and Recycling Association (Washington, D.C.). I chair two subcommittees under those standards: ASME B30.25, Scrap and Material Handlers, and ANSI/NWRA Z245.7, Size Reduction Equipment. ASME B30.25, established 20 years ago, gets revised every five years; we expect to publish the newest revision in January 2018. ANSI/NWRA Z245.7 is a new standard we are developing, and we hope to publish it in the next three to five years. That, too, will have a five-year revision schedule.

    These are voluntary standards, not laws or regulations, but they offer guidance where there might not be any at the regulatory level. In many cases, OSHA does not have a regulation covering the specific safety issues related to scrap recycling equipment and processes. In other cases, the voluntary standards meet or exceed the regulatory requirements. The standards offer guidelines and best practices for equipment design and construction; equipment inspection, testing, and maintenance; and equipment operations. They focus on your real-world, day-to-day situations.

    Understanding and using the ANSI and ASME consensus standards as guidance documents for your standard operating procedures will streamline your operations and give your safety program a solid foundation. Doing so can help ensure the safe operation of your business. For more information on the consensus standards, visit www.ansi.org or www.asme.org.

    —Tony Smith is a director of safety outreach for ISRI.

  • ISRI Applauds SC for Enacting Superfund Protections for Recyclers

    May 23, 2017

    By Danielle Waterfield

    In 1999, Congress enacted limited protections for recyclers from Superfund liability in recognition that recycling is not disposal. The federal SREA law establishes that the federal government cannot impose liability for disposal of hazardous wastes on recyclers who shipped recyclable materials for recycling purposes. This law was enacted to make it clear that Congress never intended for recycling to be treated as disposal under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund.

    Enactment of SREA protections into state law is essential to ensuring recyclers are not left with financial liability for the clean-up of hazardous waste incidents for which they had no responsibility. While the courts have upheld the validity of the SREA defense to CERCLA liability under federal law, in 2015 the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the defense offered by SREA does not apply to clean-up claims asserted under state law. Without similar protections explicitly written into state statute, recyclers are vulnerable to liability for clean-up of hazardous instances for which they had no part.

    To address this significant exposure to liability, ISRI strongly encourages recyclers to seek enactment of state equivalent protections. In South Carolina, ISRI members Barry Wolff (Charleston Steel & Metal Company) and Blake Stanley (CRC Scrap Metal Recycling, LLC) led the charge with the assistance of the South Carolina Recyclers Association and financial support of the ISRI SE Chapter. Stanley, who is president of the SC Recyclers Association and Wolff (the immediate past president), coordinated with SCRA state lobbyist Ken Kinard along with the ISRI SE Chapter leadership, which has made enactment of SREA protections a policy priority within the chapter.

    The effort this year began with a legislative reception at the state capitol sponsored by the SRCA. Recyclers from around the state joined legislators and staff for breakfast to welcome and introduce them to the industry. ISRI attended the event and assisted with preparation of educational packets that were distributed on-site. Subsequently, ISRI and SRCA leaders met afterwards with staff from the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control to discuss the SREA language. With the Department’s support, the legislative work began to insert simple language into state statute clarifying that SREA protections for recyclers apply to not only federal cleanup actions, but state actions as well, effective immediately.

    ISRI applauds SE Chapter president Tom Rice and the board of directors for their leadership on this very crucial issue for the recycling industry.

    Danielle Waterfield is senior director, government relations/assistant general counsel for ISRI.

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  • Dialing Down Your Superfund Risk

    Apr 07, 2017

    By Kent Kiser

    Unfortunately, most recycling companies are leaving themselves vulnerable every day to such a threat, one that could very easily bankrupt both the company and its executives. The threat is Superfund liability, which remains a real and ever-present danger. You might think your Superfund worries disappeared when Congress passed SREA Shieldthe Superfund Recycling Equity Act in 1999. SREA was a monumental victory for the industry that provides companies with a valid defense to a Superfund liability claim, but this defense is not automatic. You can only claim the exemption if you can prove you took certain affirmative actions before shipping recyclable material to a consuming facility. Those actions include conducting due diligence on the environmental compliance status of your consumers’ operations.

    The threats are not just hypothetical. In November 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named 115 entities potentially responsible parties for Chemetco, a secondary copper smelter in Hartford, Ill., that it designated a Superfund site. In the March/April 2014 issue of Scrap, Scott Horne, then ISRI’s general counsel and vice president of government relations, noted this was the first time the EPA had named recycling companies PRPs for scrap shipments made since SREA took effect. The EPA later named another 1,400 entities Chemetco PRPs and “sent special notice letters to about 470 entities … requesting that they either agree as a group to pay for the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the site or arrange to do the work themselves with EPA oversight,” Horne wrote. At least one recycler had been named a PRP for another Superfund site, Remacor, which processed magnesium and rare earth metals. It and 18 other entities that had been named PRPs at that site signed a consent decree with the federal government in late 2012, agreeing to collectively pay $1.1 million in cleanup costs.

    SREA provides potential liability relief for those who arrange for the recycling of specific recyclable materials, which the law defines as including scrap paper, plastics, glass, textiles, rubber (other than whole tires), metal, and spent lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, and other batteries. The law does not cover anyone who owns or operates a contaminated facility or contamination caused in whole or in part by wastes from a scrap recycling facility.

    To qualify for the SREA defense, you must be able to demonstrate that your recycling company met all of the following criteria at the time of a transaction involving recyclable material as defined above.

    • The recyclable material met a commercial specification. You can demonstrate that by referencing specifications that industry trade associations publish, such as ISRI’s Scrap Specifications Circular, or other historically or widely used specifications.
    • A market existed for the recyclable material involved in the transaction. Evidence of a market can include a third-party published price (including even a negative price), more than one buyer or seller for material for which there is a documentable price, and a history of trade in the recyclable material.
    • A substantial portion of the recyclable material was made available for use as a feedstock for the manufacture of a new salable product. On this point, you need only demonstrate it is common practice for your recyclable materials to be available for use in the manufacture of a new salable product.
    • The recyclable material could have been a replacement or substitute for a virgin material, or the product to be made from the recyclable material could have been a replacement or substitute for a product made, in whole or in part, from a virgin raw material. In this case, you must be able to demonstrate the general use for the feedstock material, not that a specific unit was incorporated into a new unit. Given that some consuming facilities use recyclable material exclusively as their raw material, there are instances in which you do not need to show the recyclable material directly displaced a virgin material as the raw material feedstock.
    • For metals, the recycler did not melt the scrap metal prior to the transaction. Welding, torchcutting, sweating, and similar activities are not considered “melting” for the purposes of SREA.
    • For batteries, the recycler did not recover the valuable components of a battery and met all applicable federal regulations in effect at the time of the transaction. The liability relief applies only to those who collect, store, or transport spent batteries.
    • The recycler must demonstrate it took “reasonable care” to determine the environmental compliance status—as it applies to the recyclable material—of the facility that received the recyclable material. To qualify for the SREA defense, you must show you did not send your recyclable material to a facility you had an objectively reasonable basis to believe was not in substantive compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

    Defining Reasonable Care

    SREA determines if you took reasonable care based on several factors, with the first being the price paid in the recycling transaction. The intent is to establish whether the transaction price was reasonable based on general market conditions at the time, contractual arrangements between the buyer and seller, and the circumstances of the transaction, among other considerations.

    A second reasonable care factor is your ability to know the consuming facility’s operations regarding its handling, processing, reclamation, or other management activities related to the recyclable material. This provision acknowledges that a small company may be able to discern less information about the consuming facility’s operations than a large company.

    Reasonable care also is based on whether you made inquiries to the appropriate federal, state, or local environmental agencies regarding the consuming facility’s past and current compliance with the substantive provisions of any federal, state, or local environmental law or regulation, compliance order, or decree applicable to the direct handling, processing, reclamation, storage, or other management activities associated with the recyclable material. This provision only requires that you make reasonable inquiries to those agencies with primary responsibilities over environmental matters related to the recyclable materials involved in the transaction.

    Conducting such SREA reasonable care compliance evaluations, or due diligence, can be time-consuming and confusing, especially for recycling companies lacking in-house environmental or legal specialists. To help you with that task, ISRI developed its SREA Reasonable Care Compliance Program. The program provides comprehensive reports upon request on consuming facilities, giving you the information you need to satisfy that portion of a valid defense to a Superfund liability claim with relative ease and minimal cost.

    ISRI’s SREA Reasonable Care Compliance Program is an easy, cost-effective way for ISRI members to fulfill SREA’s requirements and, in the process, help protect your company from harm. The alternative is to continue to expose your company to potentially ruinous Superfund liability.

    Kent Kiser is publisher of Scrap and assistant vice president of industry communications for ISRI.

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  • Commodity Markets & Prices/Impacts on State Economies and the Environment: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Presentation to the National Lt. Governors Association Meeting

    Mar 28, 2017

    By Walter Wright

    Ms. Robin Wiener, President, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (“ISRI”), undertook a presentation at the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association Federal-State Meeting titled:

    Commodities Markets & Prices: Impacts on State Economies & the Environment (“Presentation”)

    The meeting was held March 16th in Washington, D.C.

    ISRI (trademarked @ISRI) is a national trade association whose members include 1,300 companies that collect, manufacture, broker, consume, transport, and process various types of recyclables such as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, paper, plastics, tire/rubber, textiles and electronics.

    The National Lieutenant Governors Association had previously adopted a resolution supporting the concept that recyclables are not waste.

    ISRI was asked to be a part of a panel discussion at the meeting designed to convey the impacts of commodity markets on the state economies.

    The overall focus of the Presentation was the economic impact of the scrap recycling industry. For example, Ms. Wiener noted that jobs supported by the United States scrap recycling industry in 2015 totaled:

    • Direct 149,010
    • Supplier 171,350
    • Induced 151,227

    The source of these statistics is: “Economic Impact Study U.S.-Based Scrap Recycling Industry,” John Dunham and Associates, 2015.

    The study also concluded that the total economic impact of the recycling industry was $105.8 billion with 11.2 billion in federal, state and local taxes paid.

    The Presentation noted that between 30 and 40% of all scrap processed in the United States is exported every year. Total exported tons per year is 40 million metric with a value of $21 billion. These numbers are produced by the more than 8000 recycling facilities operating in the United States.

    As to state implications, the inter-relationship with commodity markets, recycling incentives and sustainable solutions was addressed. Ms. Wiener noted that energy saved using recycled materials has been determined to be:

    • 95% for aluminum
    • 88% for plastic
    • 60% for steel
    • 75% for copper
    • 60% for paper
    • 34% for glass

    Ms. Wiener addressed the future noting:

    • “Hope for upturn in 2017: Hints at rising commodity prices”
    • Relevance of political/government factors
    • Heightened uncertainty about future policy changes and unintended consequences of protectionist measures

    A copy of Presentation can be downloaded here.

    Walter G. Wright is a member of the Little Rock, Arkansas office of the Mitchell Williams Law Firm. His practice has focused for almost thirty years on environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law. This post originally appeared on The Between the Lines blog made available by Mitchell Williams Law Firm and the law firm publisher. The blog site is for educational purposes only, as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law. This blog is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Use of this blog site does not create an attorney client relationship between you and Mitchell Williams or the blog site publisher. The Between the Lines blog site should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

  • Kansas Veterans Get Opportunity of a Lifetime Thanks to Local Recycler

    Mar 09, 2017

    This includes many ISRI members who help raise funds for the Recycling Research Foundation’s National Veterans Stipend, train and hire programs for veterans, and conduct local outreach to vets in their community.

    AllmetalstruckA great example of these efforts is Allmetal Recycling in Wichita, Kansas. Over Presidents Day Weekend, the company held a fundraiser for Kansas Honor Flight. Kansas Honor Flight is an organization that raises money to send World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans “to visit their War Memorial in Washington, D.C. before it’s too late for them!”

    The event held by Allmetal featured a display of military vehicles, the American Legion Riders on motorcycles with American flags, presentation of colors by the Tornado Alley Young Marines, fallen soldier tribute, and remarks by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell.

    “I am a son of the Greatest Generation as my father was a full bird Colonel in the US ARMY-Eastern Theater,” said Ken Mueller, vice president Business Development for Allmetal.  “As sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation, we at All Metal Recycling are proud to partner with the Kansas Honor Flight to celebrate our military veterans for their service and sacrifices.

    “Having been in Washington DC when the  World War II Memorial was dedicated  about 15 years ago and witnessing all the World War II veterans wearing their uniforms and red shirts celebrating this memorial dedication along with the Korean, Vietnam and, Iraqi War Veterans, one realizes how humble life is and how proud it is to be an American.  Partnering with our customers to support their desires in support of the Veteran Memorial Visits through Kansas Honor Flights fits perfectly with our corporate community support vision and missions.”

    The event started when a customer brought in a bag of UBC aluminum cans and asked if the check could be made out to Kansas Honor Flight. The goal of the event was to raise $5,000. However, thanks to the support of customers and others in the community, they raised $15,000! This will cover the costs to send 21 veterans to Washington, DC.

    This was a phenomenal effort by Allmetal, and one that will bring untold joy to a number of veterans. 

  • ISRI Poll Shows What People Believe & Don’t Believe About Recycling

    Feb 17, 2017

    By Frank Cozzi


    Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions – 49% believed this to be true.

    The U.S. recycling industry is highly technical and sophisticated – 28% believed this to be true.

    There is enough recyclable material in the U.S. to meet the needs of manufacturers – 27% believed this to be true.

    The history of recycling dates back to the days of the cavemen – only 19% believed this to be true.


    Recyclable material put in residential curbside bins is mixed with garbage in a land fill – 11% believed this to be true.

    A product made from recycled material is of lesser quality than those made from a new raw material – 8% believed this was FALSE.

    There is little or no economic value in recycling – 7% still believe this to be true.

    Recycling does not save energy or conserve natural resources – 5% still believe this to be true.

    In the end, 73% believed at least one truth while 22% believed at least one myth to be true.  Stay tuned for next month’s post where we will supply the facts about the truths and debunk the myths!

    Frank Cozzi is the chief executive officer of Cozzi Recycling. This post originally appeared on the Cozzi Recycling Blog.

  • REMADE for Design for Recycling®

    Jan 25, 2017

    In many ways, REMADE embodies ISRI’s four Design for Recycling® (DfR) principles—(1) Making Consumer Products Recyclable; (2) Reducing Environmental Risks; (3) Controlling Special Environmental Problems; and (4) Assistance to Manufacturers of Consumer Durables, especially the fourth principle (e.g., DOE matching funds)—to make consumer durables more recyclable and safer to recycle. ISRI’s involvement in REMADE, and before that with DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), was no accident and years in the (re)making. ISRI expects that REMADE will be very beneficial to the recycling industry.

    Under DOE’s AMO as part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, the REMADE Institute is a national coalition of leading universities and companies that will forge new clean energy initiatives deemed critical in keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive. In a highly competitive selection process, DOE awarded leadership of REMADE to RIT’s team, the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance (SMIA), based on the strength of SMIA’s REMADE proposal, led by Dr. Nabil Nasr, RIT Associate Provost and Director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS). As REMADE Leader, SMIA will leverage up to $70 million in federal funding (see fourth DfR principle) that will be matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments from industry and other consortium members, including 85 partners. In all, 26 universities, 44 companies, seven national labs, 26 industry trade associations and foundations, and three states (New York, Colorado and Utah) are engaged in REMADE. ISRI is a REMADE member and proud of its role in helping to shape REMADE and assisting SMIA in its winning proposal.

    REMADE will focus its efforts on driving down the cost of technologies essential to reuse, recycle, and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers and used electronics. REMADE aims to achieve a 50-percent improvement in overall material energy efficiency by 2027. These efficiency improvements could save billions of dollars in energy costs, improve U.S. economic competitiveness through innovative new manufacturing techniques and small business opportunities, and offer new training and jobs for American workers. REMADE has the following five-year goals:

         5 to 10 percent improvement in manufacturing material efficiency

         50 percent increase in remanufacturing applications

         30 percent increase in efficiency of remanufacturing operations

         30 percent increase in recycling efficiencies

         A targeted 50 percent increase in sales for the U.S. manufacturing industry to $21.5 billion and the creation of a next-generation recycling and manufacturing workforce.

    REMADE’s focus and five-year goals did not happen by chance. In summer 2013, ISRI was invited by DOE’s INL to make a presentation on the recycling industry in a kickoff workshop for a newly conceived Institute for Recovery, Recycling, Reuse, and Remanufacturing (R4-I). Recognizing the opportunities within the R4-I concept for recycling thought-leadership and promotion of DfR, ISRI accepted the invitation to present and participate in the initial R4-I Workshop. In September 2013, ISRI and other stakeholder participants spent two days in a small Denver airport hotel trying to define more precisely the recycling and related sustainability problems that R4-I could address as a public-private partnership involving INL and other federal labs and institutions. This led to an initial R4-I whitepaper. As the R4-I concept gained traction over time, its name and scope evolved into the Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute under DOE’s AMO and as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) (aka Manufacturing USA). ISRI participated in subsequent variously named and sponsored workshops November 2014, January 2016, and June 2016 to further refine the problem statements, concepts, and goals for the future REMADE.

    Later in June 2016, DOE issued a request for proposals on its Funding Opportunity Announcement for the REMADE Institute to “enable the development and widespread deployment of key industrial platform technologies that will dramatically reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing through the development of technologies for reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials.” ISRI was soon invited and accepted the invitation to join RIT’s team, SMIA. ISRI met with other SMIA members late August 2016 for two days in Denver, Colorado to work on and fine tune SMIA’s REMADE proposal ahead of the late September 2016 submission deadline. Evidently, SMIA’s proposal was strong enough to overcome the competing proposals to earn the opportunity to lead the REMADE Institute.

    ISRI’s membership in the REMADE leadership team reflects the success of ISRI’s patient investment over three years to participate in the national technical conversation about the importance of recycling, including the role of DfR, in sustainable manufacturing. As we say in government relations, “it is better to have a seat at the table than to be on the menu.” ISRI has a seat at the REMADE table.

    Being so new, the REMADE Institute is currently gets its organizational structure set up to ensure operational readiness in finance, contracting, staffing etc. REMADE holds the promise of providing benefits and opportunities for the recycling industry over its initial five-year period of federal matching funds ($14 million annually). ISRI will keep ISRI members informed about REMADE activities and opportunities for involvement in REMADE projects.

    David Wagger is chief scientist and director of environmental management at ISRI.

  • Stay Focused During the Holidays

    Dec 06, 2016

    According to the American Psychological Association, stress increases as we prepare to meet the “holiday rush.” It’s a common statistic that people preparing for a big event (holiday, vacation, wedding, etc.) are more prone to injury. Why? Because their minds are not focused on the task at hand; instead they are focused on another event. Our attention can be diverted, or we may unintentionally expose ourselves to potential risks on or off the job.

    As the year draws to a close, all of us need to take proactive steps to stay focused on our own safety and the safety of colleagues. Despite all the potential distractions, we need to be sure we keep our “head in the game.” We can begin by understanding how stress can distort our perceptions and by taking the following steps to understand and manage our reaction to stress.

    • Awareness is the first step in reducing stress. It’s easy to let your mind multi-task while your hands and legs are in “auto pilot” doing the work. But, you must resist the urge to think of other things and instead fully concentrate on the task at hand. No matter the activity, you must focus, be precise in your work, and be aware of your surroundings.
    • Recognize when you begin to feel “weighted” or uneasy, and identify the stressors or triggering events. External stress is often caused by something you feel you can’t control, but internal stress is highly manageable. You can control how you react to stress. If you find yourself becoming distracted, stop and reframe your thoughts to focus on the task at hand.
    • Be realistic in what you can accomplish during the holidays or any stressful event. Set achievable goals, and then take small, decisive steps toward those goals.

    Safety is for all of us – our co-workers, our families and our friends. You can help keep your holiday happy and safe by choosing to manage your stress and to stay mentally focused.

    Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

  • Protecting Against Fire and Other Property Losses

    Nov 01, 2016

    Unfortunately, at the same time the frequency of losses is falling, their severity seems to be increasing. In the past five years, the average cost per claim was lowest in 2013, at about $30,000, rising to more than $74,000 in 2014, then falling slightly to about $60,000 in 2015.

    Fire has been the greatest contributor to scrapyard property losses. About $12.4 million, or 44 percent, of the $28 million in property losses in the RecycleGuard program since 2012 were due to fire, even though fire-related claims are only 18 percent of all claims. Fire losses have an outsized impact due to their average cost of about $121,000 compared with a nonfire property loss average of about $33,000. It’s also troubling that even though the total number of property losses is falling, the number of fire events may be rising. RecycleGuard program participants experienced 12 fire-loss events in 2013, 31 in 2014, and 25 in 2015—and we estimate the program will experience 36 fire losses this year.

    In addition to the loss of buildings and equipment, fires impose other costs, including business interruption, customer service and retention losses, employee impacts, damage to your firm’s reputation, deductibles and/or coinsurance, and injury to people on site.

    How can you protect your facility from fires and other property risks? Take these three steps: 

    Adopt loss-prevention practices. Create a culture of safety in your company and implement good housekeeping practices, especially regarding industrial machinery and materials that could ignite easily and propagate a fire. Preventive maintenance for building systems, industrial machinery, and mobile equipment is essential. It’s also prudent to have adequate space between fireload materials—such as shredder fluff or paper— and your buildings and equipment. If you install fire protection systems, make sure they are scaled to provide adequate protection and have them inspected and serviced regularly.

    Create a business continuity plan. A small fire loss can result in a large loss of business income unless you have developed a business continuity plan to reduce downtime and related losses. Such a plan often includes the following elements.  

    • Business impact analysis. Identify key elements of your operations that would impair your business significantly if they were damaged or destroyed. These might be essential equipment, electrical transformers, and critical component parts that require a long lead time to obtain.
    • Recovery strategies. Use the information from your business impact analysis to document the resources you would need to recover from a loss, and identify key contractors, vendors, and suppliers that can provide those resources.
    • Plan development. Identify the employees responsible for company operations such as information technology, maintenance, electrical systems, and payment approval. Keep their contact information with the plan.
    • Testing, review, and improvement. Test your business continuity plan periodically to make sure all parties involved understand their roles and responsibilities and to identify areas for improvement. During this review, make updates to reflect any changes in your business, such as new equipment or additional locations.

    Assess your insurance coverage. Ask your insurance broker to visit your company to identify all exposures and confirm that your policy covers them properly. Clarify whether your current basis of coverage is replacement cost, actual cash value, or agreed amount. Ask your broker about property coverage beyond the basics, such as business income and extra-expense coverage as well as ordinance or law coverage should repairs or rebuilding require you to bring your property up to current code. As a final step, solicit deductible options to assess the trade-offs and potential savings difference between first-dollar coverage and a per-occurrence deductible.

    Dan Curran is senior vice president and underwriting officer for Willis Programs (Portsmouth, N.H.), which underwrites RecycleGuard, the ISRI-sponsored insurance program. Reach him at (603) 334-3027 or daniel.curran@willistowerswatson.com. RecycleGuard has prepared this article for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should not rely on this document or act upon any of the information it contains without first consulting competent legal counsel. This post originally appeared on www.WillisTowersWatson.com and in Scrap magazine.

  • Titanium Scrap Market Update

    Sep 13, 2016

    There was some concern about a mild slowdown in business, but the hope was the scrap market would hold steady. However, eight months later, measured by all yardsticks, the titanium scrap market has become sluggish with declining prices and supply outweighing tepid demand.

    In recent years, industry sources have estimated that the size of the global titanium scrap market is 80,000 mt for higher-quality aerospace titanium scrap, plus an additional 80,000 mt for lower-quality, mixed ferrotitanium scrap. According to statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey (Reston, Va.), titanium scrap receipts in the first three quarters of 2015 registered 48,400 mt compared with 36,700 mt in the first three quarters of 2014. End-of-period scrap stocks for the third quarter of 2015 came to 19,900 mt, while scrap stocks totaled 14,400 mt in the comparable 2014 period. Scrap consumption in the first three quarter of 2015 totaled 38,900 mt, while consumption in the same period of the previous year was 31,900 mt.

    Edward Newman, senior vice president of United Alloys and Metals (Columbus, Ohio), said demand for titanium scrap for industrial applications has taken a major downturn in the last 12 months “due to reduced demand for titanium from the energy market along with a lack of large chemical and desalination projects. Aerospace scrap demand held steady through most of 2015, but started to slow down in the second half of 2015 and this trend has continued in 2016.”

    Newman explained that several factors are involved in this trend. “Mill demand has slowed due to a backup of material at the mills resulting in ongoing scrap inventory adjustments at a number of major producers. Second, sponge capacity is more than adequate, which negatively affects both scrap demand and pricing. On the supply side, ongoing high levels of aerospace production continue to generate large volumes of titanium scrap.”

    Market analyst Chris Olin, president and founder of Olin Research Group (Avon, Ohio), speaking at TITANIUM 2015, concurred with Newman on the slack business conditions in the industrial and oil and gas sectors, which have offset generally positive activity in the commercial aerospace industry. “We’ve been seeing weakness in the industrial categories—everything non-aerospace,” Olin said. As a result, distributors have been hedging away from the industrial sectors and adjusting their titanium inventory levels accordingly, he said. At the time, Olin’s remarks were aimed at overall business conditions in the titanium industry, but his insights do relate to the current scrap market trends.

    While all sources interviewed for this article concurred that the titanium scrap market has entered a lackluster period, only two executives, other than Newman, took a stab at explaining the “why” behind current business environment. (They both requested anonymity as a condition to share their feedback.) The first source, representing an integrated melter, pointed to the “structural changes” that have taken place in the titanium industry during the last three years. In essence, the structural changes reflect the major merger and consolidation activity, especially the Alcoa purchase of RTI and Berkshire Hathaway’s strategic acquisition of Precision Castparts Corp.

    An extended inventory evaluation period typically takes place in the wake of major acquisitions in a market, this source stated. This evaluation process has contributed to the slowdown in the scrap market. “A company has to tally the inventory on the books. There is a desire for companies to right-size inventories. We’ve seen an increase in melting volume, but scrap isn’t necessarily taking a bigger piece of that melting volume.”

    This executive said that the overall evaluation process also takes into account other important factors, such as projected, near-term market conditions, international currency trends, and assessing the value of sponge contracts.

    “The strong U.S. dollar has enabled sponge producers to reduce their prices without damaging their profitability,” he said. These low sponge prices, combined with low commodity prices for vanadium, have combined to create a situation where sponge and alloy formulations are more competitive and put downward pressure on the scrap formulation alternative. The presence of the vanadium alloy typically was an inherent advantage for scrap distributors.

    In addition, there are different degrees of scrap price “softness,” depending on the particular category of titanium and the market it serves. For example, commercially pure titanium scrap has seen a moderate drop in price, much like nickel and nickel-alloy scrap, for industrial applications that utilize superalloys. By contrast, pricing for ferrotitanium scrap is extremely weak, due to abundant supply but slack demand, particularly from the steel industry.

    The second executive, who works at a titanium scrap recycling company, also cited structural changes in the titanium industry in the wake of the recent mega mergers. “Maybe these companies have excessive inventory positions,” he wondered. “As new players, maybe they think they have too much inventory. Eventually, they’ll get their inventories in line with what they want to hold, but what then? How much scrap will they buy in the market?” He also pondered the impact of expanding closed-loop recycling systems mandated by aerospace original equipment manufacturers. “This scrap used to enter the marketplace, but no more,” he pointed out.

    The titanium scrap market showed signs of softening in the second half of 2015 and that trend has continued through the midway point of 2016, this executive observed. How much longer will scrap prices decline? He offered no predictions, but only said that customers eventually will return to buying scrap. As usual, the scrap purchasing activity will be steered by sponge prices and industry demand. “Only the melters known the answers,” he said. “When the scrap market turns, it turns, and demand will move up rapidly.”

    Even though there is a period of adjustment with regard to “structural changes” in the titanium industry, as described by these two sources, the consensus is that, for the long term, the mega deals struck by Alcoa and Berkshire Hathaway are positive developments, injecting confidence and capital into the titanium supply chain, especially in the key aerospace sector.

    Other industry executives weighed in to give their perspective on scrap market conditions. Matt Schmink, vice president of sales for Global Titanium Inc. (Detroit), confirmed that the price for ferrotitanium scrap has been declining steadily since mid-2015, and that there is plenty of scrap available on the open market. He explained that the steel industry, in recent years, has been using less ferrotitanium for automotive applications, as car builders have been focused on designs that call for lighter-weight, thinner-gauge, higher-strength steels to reduce overall vehicle weight and boost fuel consumption. Ferrotitanium scrap isn’t part of that mix, he said.

    Even though he currently sees nothing on the horizon to shift this downward trend, Schmink is confident that new applications are likely to emerge to boost consumption for ferrotitanium scrap. When used in the production of stamped steel parts, the addition of ferrotitanium adds ductility, which extends the life of the stamping presses as well as facilitates deeper-draw parts. “At the end of the day, markets always find a way,” he said.

    Vasily Semeniuta, president of Grandis Titanium Co. (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), said the titanium scrap market currently is “somewhat out of balance,” with prices down and more supply than demand. He also noted that there is extensive sponge production capacity, especially in China, which is a factor in the titanium units market’s balance. “The mills are simply buying less scrap these days,” he said.

    Daniel Buwalda, director of aerospace operations for Keywell Metals (Monroe, N.C.), observed that, since the third quarter of 2015, there has been a slowdown in the sale of titanium and high-temperature alloys scrap. According to Buwalda, melters and original equipment manufacturers have “pulled back” their purchases of scrap. “There’s a lot of material in the supply chain,” he said. “Business for high-temperature alloys was a bit better in the first quarter of this year.”

    Regarding end-use consumers of scrap, Buwalda said the aerospace market remains solid “but is a bit softer than last year,” while the industrial market “is extremely soft.” He said international industrial markets, such as chemical processing, desalination and heat exchangers, have been slumping, in terms of demand for titanium scrap. “There are not a lot of large builds going on right now,” he observed.

    There have been technology upgrades in recent years, with regard to the processing of titanium scrap—namely the operations of cold hearth melting scrap processing. Newman, during a presentation at TITANIUM 2015, offered a review of titanium scrap processing trends. He explained that for cold hearth melting scrap processing, processed turnings can now be used without X-ray monitoring due to cold hearth’s ability to remove HDI’s. This advantage, he said, substantially increases the volume of titanium turnings returning to the titanium industry. He estimated that there are now 14 cold hearth furnaces operating in the United States.

    Regarding the vacuum arc remelting (VAR) method for producing ingots, the advantages for this process are that scrap can be included in raw material mix, but VAR melting does not remove high-density inclusions (HDIs) contamination. HDIs are particles of with a higher density than titanium, which diminish the mechanical properties of titanium, with the contaminating particles serving as crack-initiation sites. As such, VAR is best used for processing titanium scrap in its early stages.

    In his summary points during his conference presentation, Newman said scrap supplements sponge and master alloys to provide substantial low-cost units to the market place. Advances in melting and processing technology have allowed for the continuing increase in titanium scrap recycling. “The titanium industry needs to continue to move towards capturing a bigger percentage of the scrap stream. Implementation of buyback programs along with industry consolidation has stabilized both pricing and supply of scrap to producers. Scrap processing industry continues to provide valuable product, services, and innovation to the titanium industry.”

    Michael C. Gabriele is a freelance writer for the International Titanium Association. Jennifer Simpson is the executive director of the International Titanium Association.

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