Have a Seat at the Table

Feb 10, 2015

Paper Specs 1922Since I started working for ISRI eight years ago, I’ve often been intrigued by the industry’s specifications and their history.  Specs for different commodities evolved at different times, often reflecting the importance of the commodity at that time.  In fact, one of the primary reasons for the Association’s formation—more than 100 years ago—was to address the industry’s lack of “basic standards by which to operate.” They are now recognized as the source of terms for the trade of recyclable materials. 

Which specs do you think came first?  I’d bet most of you were as surprised as I was.  

In a couple weeks, on February 25 and 26, we’ll all have the opportunity to challenge and change an integral part of the Scrap Specification’s Circular.  The Paper Stock Industries Chapter will be hosting its Specifications Summit in Dallas and they are looking for nothing less than a complete overhaul of the fiber grades.  These changes will directly impact the future of paper recycling. 

The fiber specs had their humble beginnings in March 1922 when 10 grades were proposed and passed by the Waste Paper Division of the National Association of Waste Material Dealers (NAWMD)—the precursor to the Paper Stock Industries Chapter of ISRI—and then by the NAWMD board itself.  These 10, some of which have changed little since their drafting, now number more than 50 and it’s time to take a fresh look at them.  We’re currently counting many of the major consumers and processors in attendance, but we need the input from all parts of the industry.  I hope to see you there.


Tom Crane is the director of membership for ISRI and serves as the liason to ISRI’s Paper Division.

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