• Getting the Most Out of Your Workers through Leadership

    Jan 06, 2015

    People work to live.  Work is the place where they spend the majority of their time.  And for many, it is an environment which is dysfunctional at best, emotionally debilitating at worst.  According to the latest Gallup poll, 70 percent of American workers are either “checked out” or actively disengaged.  More than $300 billion, or $7,500 per employee, is spent annually in the United States on stress-related compensation claims.  And this doesn’t even consider what it costs companies in terms of absenteeism, turnover, and loss of creativity and productivity.

    Is this condition inevitable? Not at all. There are specific steps that can be taken to begin to reclaim some of the enthusiasm, some of the air of celebration and some of the fundamental respect for individual human dignity that is apparent within flourishing business organizations or on championship teams. It is the responsibility of the organization’s leader to promote these steps.

    An organization’s leader must provide that elusive quality called leadership. Most people think that leaders are born rather than made. That simply is not true. Leaders demonstrate an ability, which can be learned, to powerfully speak and listen in a way that engenders hope, confidence, and enthusiasm in the people within the organization. 

    Understanding what makes a good leader and how to become one is vitally important to get the most out of your team.  At ISRI’s Annual Convention I’ll be leading a workshop that will dive deeper into these concepts and how you can unleash the power of your employees to drive their productivity.    

    Scott Hunter is a professional speaker, workshop leader, consultant, and business coach.  He is the author of the ground-breaking book, Unshackled Leadership.
  • My reaction to the film The E-Waste Tragedy

    Nov 18, 2014

    You can tell how you'll end your day by how you started it

     African proverb.

    This proverb literally means that most of the time, one's day will be determined by how much planning one has done from the start of the day. However, my first day at the 2014 E-Scrap Conference did not end as I planned.

    The day started in meetings with recyclers from around the country and all over the world. Most were very friendly and enthusiastic about their recycling work. As Robin Ingenthron (founder of Fair Trade Recycling) introduced me to colleagues that in the hallway to the registration desks, he kept raising one of the most important topics I've been trying, over the past months, to find answers to - The case of Joe “Hurricane” Benson. Joe Benson was born in Nigeria, and owned a business “BJ Electronics” based in the UK.  BJ Electronics had a reuse license with the UK Environmental Agency, which Mr. Benson used to trade in used electronics, selling to importers from his home country. Benson had traded used electronics in West Africa for over 20 years, until he was accused five years ago of dumping “e-waste” for “primitive” recycling.

    It was very interesting to me to hear all the different views on this case throughout the day, as I tried to have the attendees sign a petition to free Mr. Benson, who was sentenced to jail last summer for exporting the used electronics to Nigeria from the UK. To find possible answers to my questions I decided to attend a film presentation, sponsored by BAN (Basel Action Network) and presented by Jim Puckett. The film, by Cosima Dannoritzer, was titled “The E-Waste Tragedy”. This film became the highlight of my day that I did not plan for.  Having grown up a few blocks from the neighborhood of Agbogbloshie, Ghana, I was asked to write down my reactions to the film.

    1.  Time

    The film starts with Mr. Michael Anane (an environmental activist in Ghana) at the Accra junkyard known as Agbogbloshie.  Mr. Anane is collecting scrap plastics from old CRT computer monitors that bear property tags of some organizations in the UK. Anane takes these broken plastic materials to their original owners in the UK and demands to know why they ended up in Accra Ghana.

    As much as I admire Mr Michael Anane's courage, I see a glaring problem. By flying to the UK with these “scrap plastics” from old CRT monitors that bear the property tags of some government agencies in the UK, he had by-passed about 20 years of the products’ life. Those 20 years represent the most important segment of the reuse-recycle chain in Ghana. One can easily see that the plastic materials that Mr. Anane collected at the dump site are more than ten years older than those being imported today, based on the design of the monitors. I was stunned by the obvious - these monitors had been in use, there in Ghana, for more than a decade.  This fact is confirmed in the film itself, by one of the police commissioners, who tells Anane that these CRT monitors had been sent for recycling at least 20 years ago. The companies sold them for export, and the importer who shipped them to Ghana, are no longer even in business.

    This means that these CRT monitors have been in Ghana for at least this same period of time, and over 20 years they have been used and repaired over and over again until they finally end up in the dump at Agbogbloshie. Therefore, the best thing Mr. Michael Anane could have done was to investigate how these monitors get to the dump site,and which African consumer had brought them there? Who was the last user? Just using the asset tags on these monitors to determine their first owners is not enough.

    After Mr. Michael Anane's unsuccessful attempt to find any good explanations or answers to his questions about the CRT scrap plastic covers, the film takes us on a journey to uncover an “international illegal recycling trade”. It is alleged that these companies have sold tons of “e-waste” to developing countries in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world. The main reason they are involved in this illegal trade, the film claims, is for fast money- getting paid twice. First by the government or individuals to recycle these used electronics, and second by the importers from Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. However, the film is again silent on the African persons and African companies that they claim import “e-waste” in order to dump them in sites such as Agbogbloshie. Once again, by failing to ask questions of Africans (like Mr. Benson), the documentary misses another very important part of the chain. Why not ask the Africans who are allegedly bringing “e-waste” to places like Agbogbloshie? It is more than a disappointment that the film is silent on this very important segment. The film tells us of the economic benefit to the EU recyclers but fails to show any economic benefit to the third world importers who pay for the materials, pay for the transport, pay for the labor and pay for the customs duties to participate in this allegedly “illegal scheme”. We need an explanation of why the African buyers would waste all their own money to avoid EU recycling costs.  If they had looked for that answer, they might have met some interesting people, and gotten a better idea of what the City of Accra is like.

    2. Place

    The film also claims that container loads of “e-waste” is shipped via numerous ports throughout the EU and suggested one sure way to stop this illegal trade.

    The suggestion? Test every used electronic to be shipped to make sure that these items do not head straight to dump sites in Africa. Well, the film crew witnessed such a test being done in Germany. The film shows customs officers in a ship yard in Hamburg. Just as suggested, a ship container full of used large screen CRT TVs was opened and all of these TVs were tested. Based on what this film has said from the start, one would assume in the best circumstances that most of these CRT TVs would be found not working or unrepairable.

    The result? 100% and I mean all of the CRT TVs in the container were fully functional.  So you see, no proof so far that used electronics shipped to Africa are “e-waste”.  The film also shows an African electronics buyer in Hong Kong who clearly states that all of the used electronics they buy from Hong Kong are 95% good working items and that anything less than that is unacceptable. A very well respected investigative journalist in Ghana, Mr. Anas also confirms in the video that 95% of the imported used electronics are reused. So where does the “e-waste” imported from Europe and the US to be dumped in Africa go? I'm not sure but I'm very sure that this film does not show any hard evidence that the next container load of used electronics bound for Africa will be delivered straight to dump sites in Lagos, Dahome, Lome or Accra. 

    And finally, the film omits any mention of the UN-funded 2010 study of 279 sea containers - which were seized in Lagos and Accra and tested by Swiss and African independent researchers.  That study found 91% reuse.  A better usage rate than brand new product after electrostatic discharge, shipping damage, and warranty returns.

    3.  Motive

    One of the panelists answering questions after the showing this evening also made a very disturbing statement that I think uncovers a lot in this “e-waste” debate. He said “Our resources (precious metals) disappear in these primitive recycling areas. These people are keeping our metals and we need to stop them.”

    My response is, why not let Africans have the metal? Why shouldn't the developing world keep what the rest of the world mined from our land in the first place? After all most of the copper, gold, and diamond mines are in the developing world. This statement tempts me to think that this struggle could also be for natural resources and not some “good Samaritan” gesture towards poor Africans.

    Growing up in Ghana as a young man I was very fascinated by electronic gadgets and their magic. So I spent a lot of time learning to fix used electronics. As a result I have met so many respected repair guys or “Geeks of Color” if you wish. These are the people who prolong the life span of some of the computers, cell phone, TVs etc that you throw away. Without these guys, so many household, schools, businesses in Africa will lack basic gadgets like computers, TVs, and cell phones for everyday life. The average annual household income in Ghana is $1,327, yet most Africans have facebook accounts and cell phones. With this income level, very few Ghanaians are able to afford brand new electronics. How did we achieve higher rates of electronic use than the USA had in the 1990s?  It’s not thanks to the non-profits, which make millions selling images of poor African and Asian recyclers.  We are connected to the world thanks to imported used electronics and the Tinkerers, Fixers, Technicians, Nerds and Geeks of Color who finance the trade. Thanks to the mysteriously missing African businesses, 95% of Ghanaians can afford to buy these “magic” gadgets that our lives have come to depend on.  With the widely available repair services, these families (including mine) are able to afford and maintain these electronics for a very long time. These are the people whose voices are not heard in this film and many others circulating in the western media.

    I've waited for a long time to see this corrected but I've realized that its time Africa starts telling its own story rather than wait for someone else to do it for us. 

    This post was submitted by Emmanuel E.P Nyaletey.

  • Improving Recycling Rates Could Be Bad for Recyclers

    Nov 04, 2014
    Perhaps ironically, as evidenced by increased activity concerning “recycling rates,” U.S. EPA’s decade-old plan to rethink the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is shaping up to be bad for recyclers at the state and local levels.

    Guided by its 2002 whitepaper, “Beyond RCRA: Waste and Materials Management in the Year 2020,” EPA began to consider how the RCRA program “could and should evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new century.” Scoped to “explor[e] the future of waste and materials management,” the whitepaper identifies “[r]educe waste and increase the efficient and sustainable use of resources” as Goal #1 of three goals (loosely, Goal #2 is prevention; Goal #3, management/clean-up). It suggests that achieving Goal #1 could require “fundamental changes in the waste versus non-waste regulatory construct embedded in the current RCRA system so that materials now considered wastes would be seen, whenever possible, as commodities with potential uses.” The whitepaper further notes that “[r]educing distinctions between wastes and materials could dramatically improve recycling and reuse rates and, therefore, make great contributions towards conservation of resources.”

    An apparent starting point for EPA’s RCRA rethink was its existing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Characterization Report. Since the mid-1990s, the biennial MSW report has provided state-based data and statistics on the amounts of MSW disposed of and recovered for recycling and also recyclables collected by local curbside recycling programs. (Unfortunately, EPA includes recyclables in MSW for historical reasons, but that is arguably inconsistent with RCRA to the extent that the recyclables are separately collected and never commingled with actual solid waste.) The MSW report also offers a national “recycling rate” using state-based data and statistics, with “recycling” understood to mean both MSW recovered for recycling and curbside recycling. This “recycling rate” does not include recycling activity conducted by private-sector recyclers (e.g., ISRI members) because states and localities do not have RCRA authority to compel private-sector recyclers, which operate outside the solid waste management infrastructure, to report their activity. In contrast, states can and variously do compel municipalities, local governments, landfills, and MSW combustors to report MSW disposal and recovery amounts. However, this “recycling rate” may account for materials later obtained by private-sector recyclers, leading to potential double-counting under other definitions of recycling rate.

    As the MSW reports have indicated, the national “recycling rate” increased from 25% in 1995 to 35% in 2011. As expected, some states have been above average while others have been below average. Some states have been motivated, sometimes because of below-average statistics, to increase and set goals for their recycling rates, sometimes by statute. Such state efforts often get implemented at the local level. As a consequence, EPA has been helping localities to increase their “recycling rate” by, for instance, providing recommendations for improved collection of recyclables.

    In recent years, using some aspects of the MSW report and its associated activities, as guided by the whitepaper, EPA rolled out its new program for waste/materials management, known as “Sustainable Materials Management” (SMM). As evidenced by the recently discontinued EPA webpages (e.g., see here and here) and the new SMM Program webpage, there seems to be convergence of the MSW report infrastructure and the SMM framework. At least currently, EPA’s SMM Program is emphasizing the measurement of recycling activity aggregated at the state level. In fact, after conducting a pilot in EPA Region 4 for sharing recycling and solid waste data several years ago, EPA funded the creation of a database system called Re-TRAC Connect™ that “is already [being] used by the various states, communities, NGO's, the private sector along with EPA's WasteWise and SMM Challenges.” A potential side effect from this convergence is the potential for more or continued confusion at the state and local levels about (RCRA) regulatory distinctions between the recycling of recovered MSW by (or on behalf of) the public sector on the one hand and the recycling of non-waste materials (e.g., recyclables and industrial scrap) by private-sector recyclers on the other.

    Perhaps in connection with such potential regulatory confusion, a few states have recognized (and more undoubtedly will) that the easiest way to increase their “recycling rate” is simply to redefine the recycling rate to include recycling conducted by private-sector recyclers. Redefining the rate this way provides two important benefits to such states. First, it substantially increases the rate by increasing both the numerator and denominator of the fraction used to calculate the rate; for example, hypothetically, if the “recycling rate” were 15/100 = 15%, then a new rate that included 30 units of private-sector recycling (not necessarily covering all commodities, but including a small inefficiency) could be (15+30)/(100+31) = 34%. Second, states would not need additional resources for new recycling activities to achieve such a substantial increase in the rate. However, to be able to implement such a redefinition, states would have to exert some effort to obtain the regulatory authority to compel private-sector recyclers to report data. It is worth noting that some states (e.g., Florida) allow voluntary reporting by private-sector recyclers, which would boost the recycling rate as illustrated above. To the extent that private-sector recyclers benefit from the additional supply of recyclables collected by expanded municipal recycling, such redefinition of the rate would be bad for recyclers in three ways: regulatory conflation with waste management, compulsory reporting, and lower growth in the supply of recyclables.

    A notable example of such rate redefinition is currently taking place in the State of Michigan. Perhaps spurred by the data in this EPA Region 5 report, the governor proposed earlier this year a Residential Recycling Plan that included, among other things, doubling the estimated current residential recycling rate of 15% to 30% within two years. In connection with this Plan, based on a recommendation from Michigan’s solid waste industry, legislation was proposed under Michigan’s Solid Waste Statutes to require reporting of recycling activity by entities that recycle, whether or not they are regulated as solid waste management facilities. The proposed legislation effectively would redefine the recycling rate beyond that contemplated in the Plan, much as described above. More disconcertingly, it would pull Michigan private-sector recyclers, which are not regulated as solid waste management facilities, under Michigan solid waste authority, at least for the reporting of recycling activity. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has already engaged Re-TRAC Connect™ to provide a platform for reporting recycling activity under the proposed legislation. Because the proposed legislation represents for recyclers a slippery regulatory slope and also unwanted compulsory reporting of recycling activity, efforts have been on-going by the Michigan Chapter with assistance from ISRI National to prevent enactment of such legislation.

    If Michigan provides any glimpse of the future, given EPA’s roll-out of its SMM Program and the Re-TRAC Connect™ infrastructure that facilitates such reporting schemes, ISRI members should be especially alert for any indications that their state or local government is trying either to redefine the recycling rate to include them or to compel recyclers to report their recycling activity under solid waste regulatory authority. Members should contact ISRI immediately so that ISRI staff can provide assistance to members in addressing these issues.

    David Wagger is director of environmental management at ISRI. 
  • Summarizing the Shredder Market

    Sep 26, 2014

    Automobile shredders are the rock stars of scrap-processing equipment. No other recycling machinery captures the imagination or garners as much attention as shredders. Maybe they’re so impressive due to their sheer size: An entire shredding system can be larger than a house and longer than a football field. Maybe they draw their mystique from their awesome power, with which they can reduce car hulks to fist-sized chunks of metal in seconds. Then there’s a shredder’s equally awe-inspiring cost, which can surpass $30 million for the largest, most sophisticated systems, not to mention the almost-magical ability of a shredding system to separate a stream of mixed materials into clean, sorted commodities. For scrap companies, installing a shredder is a peak experience, one that allows them to compete at a whole other level. When you shred, in other words, you’ve reached the top of the scrap-processing game.

    Given shredders’ allure, it’s no wonder trade publications have tallied them and published lists of shredder installations for decades. Changes in the number, size, type, and geographic location of shredders not only indicate trends in the shredding niche but also can suggest the overall health of the scrap industry. From roughly 2001 to 2010, for example, growth in the installation of large shredders was a sign that processors wanted to shred more scrap that previously was sheared and boost their throughput tonnage to meet higher demand for low-residual frag. In more recent years, the large-shredder trend has slowed, and smaller shredders have gained popularity by allowing operators with modest input tonnage—and more limited financial resources—to enter the shredding fray. Some of those operators have bypassed installing a traditional stationary shredder altogether in favor of a mobile shredder. 

    Scrap’s updated shredder list, which appears in the September/October 2014 edition, identifies 356 shredders in North America: 312 in the United States, 28 in Canada, and 16 in Mexico. In the U.S. market, which saw the most change in the three years since Scrap last updated its list, Texas has the most shredders, 31; Florida is second with 19; and Ohio and Tennessee are tied for third, each with 15 shredders. Notably, 12 states, or 24 percent, have more than 10 shredders. In terms of companies, The David J. Joseph Co. (Cincinnati) and its subsidiaries claim the top spot, with 16 shredders; Alter Metal Recycling (St. Louis) is second with 12; and OmniSource Corp. (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Sims Metal Management (New York) tie for third, each with 11. Consult our shredder list for more facts on the state of the shredder market, and contact me at kentkiser@scrap.org regarding any additions, deletions, or changes. Shred on!

    Kent Kiser is the publisher of Scrap magazine and ISRI’s assistant vice president of communications. For more information, email him at KentKiser@Scrap.org. This article originally appeared in Scrap magazine’s September/October 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

  • Manufacturing and Scrap in Focus for Commodities Roundtable

    Sep 09, 2014

    Next Monday marks the start of our annual Commodities Roundtable Forum in Chicago, one of ISRI’s most popular and interesting events of the year. This year’s roundtable discussion comes at a particularly interesting time for commodity market participants in general and scrap industry members in particular given the uneven economic and manufacturing growth rates we’re seeing around the world, on-going changes in monetary policy and related stimulus measures, and resulting investor uncertainty in the commodities space. I’ll be moderating the special topic Roundtable on the Economy on Tuesday where I’ll be joined by Kris Bledowski from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and the always entertaining Jason Schenker from Prestige Economics. Given how closely related the manufacturing and scrap sectors are, we’re really excited that Kris can join us in Chicago to give us his expert views on what’s going on with the manufacturing sector both here and overseas. We’re sure to cover the latest economic developments in the U.S., China and Europe as well, including the European Central Bank’s recent decision to further cut their benchmark rates and provide additional stimulus, which has had a big impact on the Euro and in exchange on the competiveness of scrap prices coming out of Europe. We’ll be talking about not only the major manufacturing and macroeconomic themes, but how the changes in the economy and government policies are going to have an impact on the scrap industry.

    It’s always a pleasure to get a variety of viewpoints from different economists, analysts, association members, commodity exchange representatives and industry participants, and this year we have a terrific and diverse group of speakers. Industry analysts, consultants and advisors joining us in Chicago include Markus Moll from SMR (nickel and stainless steel roundtable), Michael Turek from Newedge (copper roundtable), Elizabeth Johnson from CRU Group and Kurt Fowler from The Steel Index (ferrous roundtable) and Jason Schenker on the aluminum roundtable. For the aluminum roundtable we also have Fred Penha from the CME Group and John Weritz from the Aluminum Association joining us for what promises to be an interesting discussion. Exchange warehouse stocks, Chinese demand, market fundamentals, investor sentiment and price development promise to be recurring themes at the metals roundtables this year. We also have an excellent, veteran group of scrap industry speakers and moderators who can share their thoughts and focus the discussion on the topics important our industry. Industry participants next week include Barry Hunter from Hunter Alloys, Alasdair Gledhill from ELG Metals, Chris Greenfield from Federal Metal, Brian Shine from Manitoba Corp., Pat Boyle from H. Kramer & Co., Greg Dixon from Smart Recycling Management, Josh Carter from Integrity Metals and Stephen Moss from Stanton A. Moss. Like I said, a great a group of experts to lead our roundtable discussion. And one new event we’ve added this year is our roundtable of paper and plastic where I’ll be joined by Ken McEntee from The Paper Stock Report and Dan Sandoval from Recycling Today for an interesting look at the recovered paper and plastic scrap markets, with an eye on developments overseas.

    Thanks in advance to all our registered participants, speakers and moderators and a special thanks to our sponsors First America Metal Corp., Harris, and Page Transportation for their generous support. And thanks to ISRI staffers Nancy Reynolds, Jonathan Levy and Lisa Ness Seaberg for making it all happen. Of course, the roundtables are not just a great opportunity to become better informed about what’s happening in the economy and the commodity markets, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new connections with the scrap industry leaders of today and tomorrow. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a terrific event in Chicago, I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

    Joe Pickard is chief economist and director of commodities at ISRI.

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  • ISRI Hits a Homerun at NCSL in Minneapolis!

    Aug 26, 2014

    ISRI Hits a Homerun at NCSL in Minneapolis!

    The 2014 National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Legislative Summit wrapped up last Thursday and there seems to be no doubt that everyone leaving this Minneapolis conference not only knows who ISRI is but has left with an eye-opening experience about the recycling industry. It appears that ISRI has further achieved its goal of raising the industry's profile among state legislators participating at NCSL and solidifying the idea that legislators should be consulting with ISRI members when it comes to matters of recycling. Here are some of the week’s highlights:

    NCSL Business Meetings/Receptions

    On Monday and Tuesday, ISRI attended the NCSL business meetings and VIP receptions for incoming NCSL President Senator Debbie Smith of Nevada and current NCSL President Senator Bruce Starr of Oregon. ISRI member Brian Henesey of Rocky Mountain Recycling reported having numerous valuable conversations with both business executives as well as legislators during the evening. ISRI also received a very vocal "shout out" of appreciation at the NCSL Foundation Board meeting for its platinum sponsorship and its sponsorship of the exhibit hall lunch this year by Senator Smith.

    Late Night Party - Wednesday Evening

    ISRI was a platinum sponsor of the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC)-hosted Late Night social event on Wednesday evening. This hugely popular annual event was once again a hit with NCSL attendees. The invitation-only event required a ticket for entry and only event sponsors had tickets to distribute.

    As was case last year, ISRI members once again showed the power of ISRI grassroots. In the days leading up to the Summit and here at the Summit itself, ISRI members engaged with their legislators and invited them to the party. As a platinum sponsor, ISRI was allotted 100 tickets and our members collectively invited guests for every single ticket we had. This year ISRI members used the ISRI exhibit booth in the general exhibit hall as a “will call” distribution center for tickets, which brought legislators to the ISRI booth facilitating additional conversations about the industry.

    The Late Night Party did not disappoint. The ISRI name was headlined on the marquee theater sign at the entrance as well as on signage and electronic billboards throughout the theater. The value in this sponsorship showed itself in two different ways. Not only did ISRI get its name out there as an organization that carries weight and is a major player, but it also served as a vehicle to get ISRI members engaged with their legislators. They really worked diligently to contact and communicate with state legislators, as evidenced by the numbers of tickets they distributed.   

    Exhibit Hall - All Week

    The NCSL Exhibit Hall hosted more than 1,000 interest groups/companies pitching their messages, and ISRI participated with a booth of its own that was staffed at all times with at least one ISRI member alongside ISRI staff. The booth was a central point of information about the industry and allowed ISRI members to engage in some productive conversations with legislators from all over the country. It had a computer set up with access to the ISRI jobs study, ScrapTheftAlert.com, the new metals theft law database, and the JASON Project materials as well as various industry information pieces.

    The ISRI booth featured a "count the can" contest sponsored in part by New Ulm Recycling. The contest included a brick of crushed aluminum cans and a prize provided by ISRI for the person who guessed closest to the number of cans in the brick. We had legislators coming to the booth right up to the closing minutes putting in their guesses. Of course, it was also used as an opportunity to talk to the legislator and give him or her some information about ISRI.  In the end, no one had the exact number but a Colorado legislator was selected as the “closest without going over” with a guess of 1,501 cans (the brick had 1,561 cans).

    The ISRI booth also served as the entrance and exit to the Exhibit Hall lunch allowing ISRI members to effectively engage with any legislator coming or going from the lunch. ISRI members at the booth engaged with legislators and were able to point right into the lunch hall and offer to give them a personal tour of the displays in it. Furthermore, in the lunch hall, there was an enormous “Bigger than the Bin” ISRI banner that was readable from the other end of the adjoining exhibit hall both Wednesday and Thursday.

    Exhibit Hall Lunch

    From all appearances, it appeared that ISRI’s sponsorship of the lunch was a success. The goal of the lunch sponsorship was to have legislators leave NCSL with no doubt that recycling is much bigger than the bin and ISRI is the organization that represents the recycling industry. If the enormous banner in the hall didn't catch their attention, then the crushed cars, baled non-ferrous materials, huge material handler, Genesis shear, park bench from recycled rubber, Volvo simulator, and other displays did.  Members of the ISRI Northwest Chapter came through big for ISRI. Without their participation, there is no way the lunch would have been the success that it was this year. The visible displays brought the world of recycling to the legislators in a way they had never seen before and certainly in a fashion that could never be conveyed in literature alone.

    Equipment Displays

    New to the lunch exhibit this year was equipment supplied by Road Machinery facilitated by a request from Eva Shine of the Northwest Chapter.  In the hall was a large Sennebogan material handler and a Genesis shear which attracted a great deal of attention and “Wow” factor. The equipment was staffed by representatives from those companies, who also provided videos of the equipment in action to really bring the process to life.  Several comments from attendees suggested how this large-scale demonstration really helped them envision how much material our industry handles in comparison to the visual of the curbside bin they always associated with recycling.  In addition to this equipment, Volvo brought in its excavator simulator for attendees to get a feel for operating such equipment.  The simulator idea generated great excitement. 

    Ferrous Display
    Thanks to Alter Recycling, ferrous was represented by a 43 foot trailer loaded with two crushed cars and a gaylord box full of shred.  A video from Lindner showing the shredding process brought the display to life.  It was a very professional display of the process a scrap vehicle travels through on its way to becoming new raw materials.  Chris Phelps and Bret Robinson of Alter Trading and others were on-site by the trailer to discuss the recycling process with the uncountable numbers of “gawkers” who seemed to take pause at the idea of two stacked crushed cars being transformed into fist-size pieces of metal as visualized on the back of that Alter trailer.

    Nonferrous Display
    Thanks again to Alter Recycling, nonferrous had a life-size display that brought the enormous scale of the industry into vision. The display consisted of three large bales of copper piping, insulated copper wire, and aluminum.  It also featured a count the can contest with a brick of crushed aluminum cans that had an award for the entry closest to the exact number. The ISRI fact sheet for nonferrous helped tie all the materials together and their importance to the economy and environment. The ISRI banners on ScrapTheftAlert.com and StopMetalsTheft.org were placed near this display to serve as a talking piece on the subject.  

    Paper Display
    Pioneer Industries provided a bale of newspaper and some samples of new products developed from #9 News along with shredded paper for the centerpiece jars.  

    Electronics Display
    Electronics recyclers were represented thanks to IRT in Minneapolis.  The electronics were popular among attendees given the touch and feel display both at the exhibit as well as in the centerpieces on the lunch tables. The exhibit displayed computer and various electronic equipment as it is broken down and recycled, with large glass jars of the scrap that results from the recycling process.

    Tire/Rubber Display
    Tire and Rubber went big providing not only examples of recycled tire product such as crumb rubber for legislators to touch and feel, but the commodity was a popular attraction because of a generous donation by Champlain Recycling.  This year’s display included a full scale park bench made of recycled tires and plastic engraved with “Recycling is Bigger than the Bin” on the bench, which was donated not only as a display but as the winning prize for a Guess the Number of Tires contest.  With the assistance of Mike Hinsley, Troy Hess, and others, a bale of tire wire was displayed and attendees were encouraged to guess the number of tires this wire came from in order to win the bench.  It attracted not only the weary wanting to take a rest on the bench, but apparently some engineers who were determined to calculate the number of tires by density, weight, and even tire brand.  This exhibit proved to be very popular as it had examples of various tire/rubber products that attendees could touch as they watched videos of the process on a large TV screen.

    Plastics Display
    With the help of ISRI member Hilex Poly, plastics had an impressive display including a full bale of used plastic bags alongside new plastic product manufactured from those bags.  This served as a very timely reminder for legislators that plastic bags are not trash, at a time when states are increasingly being asked to look into banning the plastic bag altogether.

    Lunch Table Centerpieces
    As briefly mentioned above, there were centerpieces placed on all 200 tables for purposes of starting conversation about recycling. ISRI provided 32 oz. clear plastic jars to Northern Metal Recycling, an EMR facility in Minneapolis, at which the NW Chapter President Tony White took the time to fill with shred from each commodity that was shipped to him for this purpose. The jars were labeled with the ISRI logo and a phrase "I used to be a _____" with the blank filled in with a description of where the material could have originated. For example, the ferrous jars had labels that said things like "I used to be a Chevy,” and the electronics jars had shred in it with labels such as "I used to be a laptop" or "I used to be an Apple computer." These centerpieces were the talk of the day.

    The lunch tables also featured recycling ”trivial pursuit” cards that proved to be a hit with attendees. One Minnesota legislator who is also an educator informed ISRI member Eva Shine that he wanted to use the cards in his classroom. The cards clearly served as an effective eye-opening piece of "fun" literature that helped facilitate positive conversation about the industry. In addition to the trivia cards, the tables also featured the job study postcard, JASON Project brochure and a sheet outlining the top state policy issues for recyclers.

    Lunch Volunteers
    Thanks to the efforts of Eva Shine and the ISRI NW Chapter, there were around 40 volunteers at the lunch to mix and mingle with attendees and talk about our industry. The volunteers stood ready to answer questions at the entrance of the hall by the displays that lined the walkway to the food and helped spark interest in the exhibit displays we had in the hall. Without the efforts of Eva and the NW Chapter members, the lunch would not have been nearly as successful as it was for ISRI.

    Door Greeters
    As was the case last year, several ISRI members indicated that one of the most productive parts of the lunch and ISRI booth placement was how they were able to stand and greet legislators as they came in and left the lunch hall.  Brian Henesey, Randy Goodman, Mike Potash and others, stationed themselves at the door and were able to thank legislators for coming and hand out the ScrapTheftAlert.com flashlights as a departing gift. The setup allowed for the ISRI members to get instant feedback from legislators on the lunch and their impressions about ISRI. It has been reported that the feedback was extremely positive.

    Next year’s summit will be in Seattle, and we look forward to having another great event there and outreach to the thousands of state legislators that will be in attendance.

    Danielle Waterfield is Assistant Counsel and Director of Government Relations at ISRI.

  • Louisiana Scrap Metal Recyclers Formally introduce themselves to Louisiana Sheriffs

    Aug 12, 2014

    At this year’s Louisiana Sheriffs Association (LSA) conference in Destin, Florida, the Louisiana Recyclers Association (LRA) introduced itself, one on one, to the Sheriffs of Louisiana. LRA has been working for years now to bring awareness of the importance of metal recycling to Louisiana’s economy. It has mainly had to do this in a defensive posture through educating Louisiana lawmakers on our importance when they try to bring unnecessarily burdensome regulations to scrap metal recyclers. This punishes the industry and drives scrap metals into dark markets, as well as across state lines, and in most cases it does very little to actually deter or prevent scrap metal theft. The Louisiana Sheriffs Association conference marks a turning point for LRA going on the offensive to get ahead of the issues with those directly involved in theft reports to help lawmakers and law enforcement battle the problems that so often get associated with scrap metal recyclers, metal theft.

    Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and ISRI’s Danielle Waterfield have been working together in many areas and from a discussion at the Conference of Western Attorneys General this year had the idea that this may be a way for LRA to bring awareness to scrap metal laws and help law enforcement with scrap yard regulations. After all, who better to help combat the problems with enforcement of the current laws than those who understand the way scrap yards operate, the operators themselves.

    LRA President Chip Dejean, when presented with this idea, jumped on this chance to be ahead of the problem and participate as part of the working solution. So LRA secured an exhibitors station at the conference where Danielle Waterfield and I attended as exhibitors. LRA was able to introduce itself and offer its resources to each sheriff individually. We were able to demonstrate our knowledge of the laws currently in place and coming into effect on the now past date of August 1, 2014. Some of them were truly not aware of what LRA is and of some of the current laws, or new ones, already passed.

    I was surprised that some of the sheriffs were not aware of tools put in place by ISRI many years ago like ScrapTheftAlert.com. Danielle and I handed out many ScrapTheftAlert.com flash lights to the family orientated group of sheriffs and their associates. We took advantage of the time to also hand out and explain a host of tools we can, and have made available to Law Enforcement while holding them in front of the branding for Louisiana Recyclers Association, Scrap Theft Alert, and StopMetalsTheft.org. These introductions and reinforcements went a long way and I noticed that officers of the .aw had their attention captured by the police car in the logo for StopMetalsTheft.org.

    With so much progress happening in one small segment of time, it became retrospectively clear, we did hit one out of the park. With such a positive message, I feel that many of the sheriffs’ general picture of our industry and the LRA has been forever altered.  There were a couple of highlights that cannot go without mentioning. Louisiana Recycling Association received the most attention from one of the stand out sheriffs here in Louisiana, Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish, and proudly my close neighboring parish. Sheriff Champagne is no ordinary Sheriff; with a Law Degree and double graduate from the FBI academy, he is an exceptional sheriff on a national scale. He has been president of LSA and serves on the National Sheriffs Associations Board of Directors. The second very significant direct outcome is that I am going to have the opportunity to train law enforcement officers. Sheriff Champagne has offered his facility and personnel as a testing ground for training of scrap metal laws, relations, and enforcement. Based on a program outlined by ISRI and in cooperation with ISRI, we will start testing within the month training officers. With Sheriff Greg Champagne being on the LSA committee that approves training for accreditation, we have a goal to get the training fully accredited in Louisiana. This training will have immeasurable value to Louisiana scrap metal recyclers and the LRA.  It is our opportunity to put a face on the industry and truly convey an understanding of what and how we do what we do.  This also is a chance to bond with individuals in the enforcement community. Law enforcement training will eventually put us on the same team with law enforcement when it comes to battling scrap metal theft.

    LRA was able to use some tools provided by our industry’s biggest supporting organization, ISRI, while maintaining a Louisiana identity that was familiar and comfortable to Louisiana Sheriffs. In future legislative sessions, working with lawmakers, while on the same team as sheriffs across Louisiana is where Louisiana Recyclers Association plans to be positioned.

    Vincent Costanza of All Scrap Metals, LLC is a member of ISRI and the Louisiana Recyclers Association

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  • Retaining Employees through Good Management

    Jul 08, 2014

    In the scrap metal business, managers are only as good as their employees. In the past, employers could count on their employees to stay loyal to the business for the lifetime of their career. In today’s business environment, employees are under more pressure than ever to market their skills to the highest bidder. Despite claims that inflation is stable, a larger portion of employee’s discretionary income goes towards paying gasoline, health care, and food than in previous years. Knowing that employees face increased financial pressure, the cost of losing an employee is something that scrap metal businesses have to deal with on a daily basis. Think about these facts:

    • It may take a new employee 1-2 years to reach the productivity of an existing employee.
    • The cost of hiring a new employee includes advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring.

    In the past, an employee’s major objective in finding a company to work for was to insure his financial security. In today’s work environment, an employee typically leaves a company because of a lack of clarity regarding earning potential, career development, and expectations of the job he is hired to perform. The cost of turnover in a company is more than just a financial figure. It is time, energy, and a loss of productivity.

    Managers within a company are a direct reflection of employee retention rate. That is why managers within an organization not only must be qualified but management training is extremely important.

    Many companies who hire managers promote their managers from their sales force. Think about the qualities of a great salesperson. Now think about the qualities of a good manager. They are vastly different. The skill sets that allow a salesperson to achieve high results are not necessarily the same skills as an effective manager.  This means giving managers quality training is of the utmost importance.

    Every manager has his own style, strengths and weaknesses, but employee expectations are changing. A manager cannot reach his employees unless he finds out what motivates them today, tomorrow, and in the future. If a manager fails to motivate them to reach their personal goals, he is in danger of de-motivating his employees and/or losing them to another organization. This will impact team morale and overall output.  

    I have interviewed countless employees from all facets of business from the high-level executive to the hourly employee. I have analyzed their interview responses and have written Managing from the Other Side of the Desk. This presentation focuses on four key points:

    • Successful managers and their characteristics
    • Molding the company’s future
    • Understanding team expectations
    • Achieving maximum results from the team

    I hope you join my webinar, Managing from the Other Side of the Desk on July 17 at 3 pm.

    Jason Linkes is the district manager – Great Lakes District for AMG Resources. The webinar, Managing from the Other Side of the Desk, is free to ISRI members. Members can submit questions in advance by emailing webinar@isri.org.

  • EPA Releases New CRT Rule, Tightening Exports for Reuse

    Jul 01, 2014

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its revised export provisions for cathode ray tubes (CRT).   The original rule was finalized July 28, 2006 (71 FR 42928), which conditionally excluded CRTs from solid waste so long as conditions were met.   This conditional exclusions remains intact since the streamlining of RCRA management standards is intended to encourage recycling and reuse rather than landfilling or incineration.   In November 2010, President Obama established the Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship, co-chaired by EPA and the General Services Administration (GSA) (executive order 13514).  As part of EPA’s commitment to this effort, the agency committed to proposing changes to the existing CRT rule in order to better track CRT exports (76 FR 11243, March 1, 2011).  This new rule finalizes revisions to the export provisions that allow for the conditional exclusion of solid waste for used CRT exports. 

    Key provisions of the revised rule include:

    (1)    A new definition of “CRT Exporter”, has been added to consolidate the export related activities and assign responsibility for the CRT Exporter since there is often several persons involved in the export of CRTs“CRT Exporter” is any person in the United States who initiates a transaction to send used CRTs outside of the United States or its territories for recycling or reuse, or any intermediary in the United States arranging for such export.

    1. Only one submission is required;   
    2. Persons involved should assign exporter responsibilities among themselves; and,
    3. All persons are jointly and severally liable for failing to comply.

    (2)    Additional Annual Reports for Used CRTs Sent for Recycling

    1. No later than March 1 of each year, the CRT Exporter must submit annual reports for used CRTs exported for recycling.  (This is in addition to the initial notification requirements.)   The report summarizes:  quantity (in kilograms); frequency of shipment; and ultimate destination(s) of all used CRTs exported for recycling during the previous calendar year;   
    2. Reports must also include the name, EPA ID number (if applicable), mailing and site address of the CRT exporter, the calendar year covered by the report a signed certification that certifies under penalty of law that shipments have been personally examined and are true, accurate and complete; and,
    3. Reports much be submitted to EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
    4. To avoid duplicative submissions, EPA expects only one person to perform the CRT Exporter duties. 

    (3)    Revised Notification Required for Used CRTs Sent for Recycling

    1. The CRT Exporter must state the name and address of the recycler or recyclers and the estimated quantity of used CRTs to be sent to each facility, as well as the names of any alternate recyclers.  (The expected quantity is the new change.)

    (4)    Revised Notification Required for Used, Intact CRTs Exported for Reuse

    1. The one-time notice has been replaced.  CRT Exporters must now send a notification to cover export activity extending a 12-month or lesser period.
    2. The written notification, signed by the CRT Exporter must contain the following information:
      1. The name, mailing address, telephone number, and EPA ID number (if applicable) of the CRT Exporter;
      2. Estimated frequency or rate of exports for reuse and period of time for such exports;
      3. Estimated total quantity to be exported in kilograms;
      4. All points of entry to and departure from each transit country through which exports occur, a description of the approximate length of time the exports will remain in such country, and the nature of their handling while there;
      5. Description of the mode of transportation and type(s) of container
      6. Name and address of the ultimate destination facility or facilities where such CRTs will be reused, refurbished, distributed or sold, and the estimated quantity sent to each facility and any alternate destination facility;
      7. Description of the manner in which such CRTs will be reused in the foreign country; and,
      8. A certification signed by the CRT Exporter that certifies under penalty of law that the CRTs described in the notice are intact and fully functioning or capable of being functional after refurbishment and will be reused or refurbished then reused.

    This final rule is effective on December 26, 2014 and affects all persons who export used CRTs for reuse and recycling.  The rule does not affect households or conditionally exempt small quantity generators.

    For more information about the Revisions to the Export Provisions of the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Rule, please contact ISRI staff Eric Harris or David Wagger.

  • New Study Highlights a Need for State Metal Theft Data

    Jun 10, 2014

    Over the past few years, reports of scrap metal theft have become common in both the local and national news. Insurance companies, law enforcement officials and industry watchdogs have called scrap metal theft—including the theft of copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel and scrap iron—one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States.

    State leaders have taken notice, passing a flurry of legislation meant to curb metal theft and help law enforcement find and prosecute criminals. A big chunk of that legislation focused on placing new regulations and requirements on transactions at scrap metal recycling facilities where thieves might attempt to sell their stolen goods. 

    Researchers at The Council of State Governments, in collaboration with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), set out to determine if all that legislation is having an impact on metal theft rates.

    We wanted to know if those laws were affecting metal theft rates or if certain kinds of legislation were more effective at stopping metal thieves. However, to begin evaluating metal theft legislation, we needed to know exactly how much theft was occurring.

    After finding no existing source of compiled theft data for states, CSG researchers surveyed states and local law enforcement officials to determine if reliable statistics could be collected.

    The data just isn’t there. No state is comprehensively tracking metal theft crime statistics, and while some local jurisdictions are collecting their own data, those data have a number of limitations when it comes to evaluating the impacts of state legislation.

    The bottom line is that you can’t effectively evaluate what you don’t measure. States just aren’t collecting the kind of data needed to perform a rigorous analysis of how state legislation is affecting metal theft rates—one way or the other.

    The study recommends that state leaders continue to discuss ways to solve the metal theft problem and that key to that discussion will be how states can begin to collect the necessary data to evaluate their policies.

    Moving forward, it is unlikely data will be available in the future on a scale necessary to perform meaningful analysis unless a widespread effort is launched to create systems, at both the local, state and likely national levels to document, track and report metal theft crime uniformly and consistently.

    Jennifer Burnett, CSG program manager for fiscal and economic development policy and the study’s primary author. A copy of the full report can be found on the Council of State Governments website.

  • A Big Pickup for Aluminum Recycling?

    May 22, 2014

    It’s big news in the automotive market—and the recycling world—when one of the Big Three automakers decides to trim hundreds of pounds from the weight of its best-selling pickup truck by using more aluminum and less steel. That’s exactly what Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, Mich.) is doing with its popular F-150 truck. According to news reports, Ford will make the 2015 model year truck 700 pounds—or 15 percent—lighter by using aluminum body panels instead of steel. It’s making the change as part of its efforts to meet the ever-escalating U.S. fuel economy standards, which require each automaker’s fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. One way automakers can improve a vehicle’s gas mileage is to make it lighter. The aluminum-intensive F-150 reportedly will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than today’s F-150 trucks, which will allow the new trucks to meet fuel standards through 2020. A lighter vehicle also can pave the way for other changes—such as the use of a smaller engine—that could yield even more weight and fuel savings. 

    On the surface, the aluminum F-150 might sound like a no-brainer, but the shift comes with certain costs and risks. Aluminum is more expensive than steel, which is likely to increase the new truck’s sticker price. It also requires different manufacturing techniques, so Ford is investing millions to retool its truck production plants in Dearborn and Claycomo, Mo. Aluminum is more difficult and expensive to fix when damaged, which could increase repair and insurance costs for owners. And some truck buyers might view aluminum as less rugged and durable than steel, which could reduce the new truck’s appeal in their eyes.

    In short, this shift to aluminum is a big gamble for Ford, and its success is far from certain. But given the federal government’s fuel-efficiency imperative, which encourages the use of lighter materials such as aluminum, plastics, composites, and other high-tech innovations, the move could be a sign of things to come. If other automakers follow Ford’s lead into more aluminum-intensive vehicles, automotive steel consumption is likely to decline, reducing the recoverable steel in those vehicles but enriching their nonferrous content.

    For nonferrous recyclers, Ford’s move will have the near-term benefit of boosting the availability of aluminum prompt scrap from its revamped production facilities and obsolete aluminum scrap from new F-150s that are repaired or wrecked. In the longer term, when the new F-150 trucks are scrapped, auto dismantlers and shredder operators will profit from the trucks’ higher nonferrous value, which should more than compensate for the lost steel volume. In other words, Ford’s F-150 gamble could pay off nicely for recyclers, giving the nonferrous side an especially nice pickup.

     

    Kent Kiser is the publisher of Scrap magazine and ISRI’s assistant vice president of communications. For more information, email him at KentKiser@Scrap.org. This article originally appeared in Scrap magazine’s March/April 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

    1 Comment
  • That's a Wrap: ISRI 2014

    May 05, 2014

    by Jack DeMao, CEO, Electric Guard Dog

    An unfortunate shoe toss during Hillary Clinton’s closing remarks was probably the most talked about moment of the 2014 ISRI Convention, but nowhere near the most enlightening. Rather, a "Spotlight on Aluminum” panel, chaired by Matt Kripke of Kripke Enterprises, provided a fascinating example of how intricate global forces are driving metal market pricing for scrap in the U.S. The panel’s consensus opinion was that aluminum “all in” prices would probably rise during 2014. In the aftermath of ISRI, aluminum prices rose, buoying those predictions.

    Alloid History

    The London Metal Exchange is the world center for trading more than 80% of all non-ferrous metal contracts and has been since 1877. The LME and its worldwide network of approved warehouses help stabilize the market for aluminum and provide a vehicle for hedging risk.

    In an increasingly volatile worldwide market, LME has been challenged to reform some of its practices to reduce the recent growth in premiums and to make the market more responsive.

    Unfortunately, the recent UK High Court of Justice ruling in favor of United Company RUSAL (UC RUSAL) and against the LME has – at least for the moment -- quashed LME’s reform plans. UC RUSAL is the world’s largest producer of aluminum.

    There are many factors that will influence the price of aluminum in the US during 2014, some of the big ones are:
    Variables in Corporate Chemistry

    A deciding factor is Chinese production levels. Between existing plants and those planned, China could produce more than the world’s demand. Given reforms in China, it is unlikely that production will rise to this level because it would not be profitable to do so. Yet China’s industrial policy is hard to predict.

    A critical bellwether will even take place here in the U.S. with the introduction of Ford’s new aluminum-based 2015 F150 truck. Ford made a major commitment to the higher prices aluminum costs in order to reduce the weight of the F150 by 700 lbs. The new, lightweight, fuel-efficient truck will help Ford meet the new CAFE standards, and is purported to get as much as 30 miles to the gallon. Its success or failure could have a rapid domino effect on the automotive market and thus the aluminum markets worldwide.

    The panel ended with the overwhelming prediction that the “all in” aluminum prices in the U.S. may rise towards the end of the year, which is great news for our scrap metal customers and the recycling industry as a whole.

    Jack DeMaoThe blog post was originally posted by Jack DeMao, CEO, Electric Guard Dog on April 22, 2014.
    1 Comment
  • Planning for Effective Accident Investigations

    Apr 23, 2014

    by John Gilstrap

    Long before anyone is hurt or any equipment is damaged, have a plan for how your company will investigate accidents. The first step in the plan might be deciding which incidents are worth investigating. The big stuff—a serious injury or fatality—is a no-brainer, but what about the near-misses? Here’s why you should investigate those, too: When a high-velocity chunk of metal launches across the yard, the only variable that determines whether it misses everyone or whether it hits and kills an employee is luck. Ditto the small fire that gets put out before it becomes a conflagration. Don’t wait for the injury or damage to identify and fix a problem. Investigate near-misses as aggressively as serious incidents. Here are five tips to get your accident investigation efforts on track.

    1. Establish your team.
    Permanent members of the team should include representatives from executive management, maintenance, safety, and operations. Add others to fill in any expertise gaps depending on the incident you’re investigating.

    2. Provide the right equipment.
    You’ll need a decent-quality camera, preferably with a time and date stamp (make sure the time and date are correct); a ruler and yardstick to add scale to the pictures; and a measuring wheel to note the location of evidence relative to two fixed points. For example, if you document that a piece of evidence is 37 feet 6 inches from the southwest corner of the break room and 18 feet 4 inches from the flagpole, you can find that exact spot five years from now, when the case is in litigation.

    3. Train them in essential skills.
    Effective accident investigation is a skill, so it requires training and practice. The designated photographer needs to know how to take effective pictures of injuries and accident scenes. These aren’t artistic shots, but they’re not snapshots, either, and it’s essential to get them right the first time. Once the scene is cleared up, you can’t take them again. More photos are always better than fewer, and there’s a certain science to getting it right. Many community colleges provide courses in this discipline.

    You also need to train the designated interviewers. Accident investigations are about finding facts, not assigning fault, and there’s an art to pulling information out of people without making them feel threatened. The most important rule is to show respect to the interviewee.

    4. Conduct interviews immediately but compassionately. Witnesses to traumatic events can themselves be trau­ma­tized emotionally, and that can do strange things to a person’s memory. The faster an investigator can tap into a witness’s recollections, the more accurate the details are likely to be. Depending on the circumstances, witnesses might resist talking about what happened, but it’s important to get past those boundaries. Be sure to have tissues and drinking water handy, and always interview witnesses one at a time, out of the presence of other witnesses—not out of mistrust, but out of the realization that everyone sees events through different filters, and it’s easy for one person’s version to pollute the memories of others within earshot.

    If the witnesses are traumatized, the interviewers can become traumatized as well. It’s hard to be in the room with that much emotion. Another set of ears can help make sure details aren’t forgotten or overlooked, so it’s best to conduct each interview with an additional person in the room.

    5. Seek facts and root causes. It’s easy to get swayed by preconceived notions or draw hasty conclusions. Even if the worker involved in an incident has a history of being careless on the job, that doesn’t automatically mean his or her carelessness caused the incident under investigation. If the evidence leads to that conclusion, so be it, but the result has to evolve organically from the facts uncovered during the investigation.

    An investigation team made up of employees is inherently biased. Every member has turf to protect, grudges to settle, and friends to support. Almost every accident investigation in which I’ve participated has involved a team member who felt threatened by the investigation’s direction and who, therefore, changed his focus from finding fact to proving his innocence.

    To keep the investigation focused, seek an accident’s root causes. Why didn’t the employee lock out the baler? If it’s a supervisory issue, why didn’t the supervisor make sure the employees under his or her control followed the rules? If that’s a production issue, why did the supervisor feel pressured to put production ahead of safety? Continue asking questions until there are no whys left unanswered, then fix the problems you discover. 

    John Gilstrap is ISRI’s director of safety. For more information, email him at JohnGilstrap@isri.org This article originally appeared in Scrap magazine’s November/December 2013 issue. Reprinted with permission.

    2 Comments
  • Building a #LegacyofGood by Creating Recyclable Products, Not Throwing Shoes

    Apr 16, 2014

    By now, you have likely heard about the ‘shoe incident’ involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Vegas conference speaking to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) yesterday. Dell participated in this event, and while the incident is disturbing, we are happy to see itis drawing attention to the efforts of ISRI.  The ISRI is a Washington, DC-based trade association representing more than 1,600 for-profit companies- ranging from small, family-owned businesses to large, multi-national corporations- who promotes the importance of responsible recycling particularly in the area of technology recycling and management.

    Technology recycling is a priority for Dell and a key aspect of our Legacy of Good Plan to ensure our IT solutions help customers and communities make lasting contributions to the planet and society.  Last week, we shared a story of how we’re turning e-waste into a resource in Kenya and creating green jobs. Yesterday, we proudly accepted ISRI’s 2014 Design for Recycling Award for our Latitude 10 and XPS 10 tablets. These products are over 95% recyclable, easy to disassemble into key components and are built with materials that are readily recyclable to conserve natural resources.  The ISRI Design for Recycling Award reminds product designers that their actions matter and they have a huge influence on product sustainability. 

     

    We are honored to have received this award. It validates the efforts of our team as we find new, better ways to do responsible business.

    To stay connected to Dell’s #LegacyofGood efforts, follow us on Twitter at @Dell4Good.

    The blog post was originally posted by Carly Tatum, Social Media Communications, Dell Inc on April 11, 2014. 
    Go comment!
  • Welcome to the ISRI Blog

    Mar 19, 2014

    by Robin Wiener

    With the launch of its new website, ISRI is also premiering its latest communications tool: ISRI Blog. ISRI Blog will allow us to reach out in a new way to members, the general public, law enforcement, environmental community, and other stakeholders in the recycling industry. We hope the blog provides a variety of views and opinions from ISRI leadership and staff as well as guest bloggers, while covering a range of topics involving all the commodities, latest trends in recycling, government relations news, and more.

    I encourage you to offer your opinions and insights in the comments section of each blog entry.  If you would like to add your voice on a topic or issue relating to the recycling industry, please contact ISRI Director of Online Communications
    Mark Carpenter about being a guest blogger.

    Please check back on our website and social media for regular updates on the blog.  We look forward to your active participation through
    ISRI Blog.

  • The Superfund Threat Lives On

    Mar 18, 2014
    From the 1980s, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Washington, D.C.) named the first scrap companies as potentially responsible parties in a Superfund case, through the 1990s, Superfund was the bane of the recycling industry. The possibility of being named a PRP imposed such a heavy economic burden on the industry that it was fighting for its life until Congress enacted the Superfund Recycling Equity Act in November 1999.

    SREA gave the industry relief from Superfund liability, but its protections aren’t free. To benefit from the law, a recycler must, by a preponderance of evidence, show that the recyclable material it shipped met a specification grade; a market existed for the material; a substantial portion of the recyclable material was made available for use as feedstock for the manufacture of a new, salable product; and the recyclable material could have been a replacement or substitute for virgin material or the product made from the recyclable material could have been a replacement or substitute for a product made with virgin material. Meeting these criteria provides SREA protection for transactions prior to Feb. 27, 2000, but for transactions after that date, there’s one additional requirement: Recyclers must prove they exercised reasonable care to determine that the consuming facility to which they shipped was in compliance with substantive provisions of federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations applicable to the handling, processing, storage, reclamation, or other management activities associated with the shipped recyclable material. Reasonable care, as stated in SREA, means that the recycler made inquiry of the relevant federal, state, and local authorities charged with enforcing the laws in the jurisdiction where the consuming facility is located.

    Fast forward to November 2011, when the EPA named 115 entities PRPs at the Chemetco Superfund site in Hartford, Ill. This was the first time the EPA had named recycling companies that shipped materials to a consuming facility after Feb. 27, 2000, PRPs. It recently named an additional 1,400 entities as Chemetco PRPs and sent special notice letters to about 470 entities (including those from 2011) 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. ISRI helped form a PRP group in early 2012 with 39 of the original 115 named entities, and that group now invites the new PRPs to join.

    Does SREA protect recyclers that are named Chemetco PRPs? That remains to be seen.  Because this case involves “post-enactment” transactions, SREA only protects recyclers that meet the five criteria outlined above, including having inquired into Chemetco’s environmental compliance record. 
    Here’s the moral of the story: Make sure you’re doing your due diligence on the consuming facilities to which you ship so you can take advantage of SREA’s protections. ISRI created the SREA Due Diligence Compliance program to help members meet their SREA obligations in an easier, more economical fashion.

    Scott Horne serves as ISRI’s vice president of government relations and general counsel. This entry is taken from his “Political Pulse” column in the upcoming March/April edition of  Scrap Magazine.
    Editor’s note: More information on ISRI’s SREA program can be found in the March/April edition of Scrap Magazine.
    Go comment!
  • Aluminum Scrap and its Significance as Raw Material Input for Aluminum Production

    Mar 18, 2014
    US Aluminum IndustryAluminum holds the distinction of being both the youngest and the most widely used among all the base nonferrous metals in the U.S. Aluminum is known to be a lightweight, ductile, malleable  and corrosion resistant metal, making it a popular choice with manufacturers. As with other nonferrous metals, aluminum is also inherently recyclable and recycled aluminum is highly valued as a raw material input for new aluminum production. In 2012, U.S. Geological Survey figures show aluminum metal recovered from purchased new and old scrap in the United States totaled over 3.4 million metric tons.

    Aluminum can be recycled from a wide range of obsolete products including used beverage containers, aluminum siding, old radiators, used wire and cable, automobile and truck wheels, as well as end of life vehicles and airplanes.  ISRI estimates that aluminum recovered scrap represented 54% of total U.S. apparent aluminum consumption in 2012. In addition, the U.S. exported more than 2 million metric tons of aluminum scrap worldwide last year.

    Of the 3.4 million tons of aluminum recovered from purchased scrap in the United States late year, USGS estimates that about 53% came from new (manufacturing) scrap and 47% from old scrap (discarded aluminum products). The aluminum recovered from old scrap, such as aluminum cans and other obsolete products was equivalent to about 35% of total U.S. apparent consumption of aluminum, according to the USGS figures.

    By type of consumer, the government statistics show that secondary smelters, which use aluminum scrap to create a variety of new aluminum and aluminum alloy shapes including ingots, sows, and other products, were by far the largest consumers of domestically purchased aluminum scrap last year, recovering over 1.9 million metric tons of aluminum by metallic content. The next largest consumers of aluminum scrap in 2012 (In order) were independent mill fabricators (1.4 million metric tons), foundries (97,000 metric tons) and other consumers (7,000 metric tons).

    At the start of 2014, the light metal provided a prime example of a market in search of balance. While more than 5.4 million metric tons of aluminum are hoarding in LME warehouses, world aluminum production continues to rise. Figures from the International Aluminum Institute show reported and unreported aluminum production in China alone surpassed 24 million during 2013, a 10 percent increase from the corresponding period in 2012. Concerns about excess aluminum supply, investment outflows from commodities and the coming changes to LME warehouse load-out rate rules have weighed on aluminum market sentiment and prices. The average LME official 3-month aluminum price fell from $2,049 a ton in 2012 to $1,887 a ton in 2013. The LME rules changes are intended to reduce the time it takes to receive metal deliveries from LME warehouses, which could cut into the physical market premiums. But as of early January those premiums rose to record levels, prompting analysts to speculate that aluminum stocks could simply shift to off-exchange warehouses. And while Alcoa, Inc. expects global aluminum demand growth of 7 percent in 2014, most analysts expect the global aluminum market to remain in surplus this year. Should prices continue to fall; further production cutbacks could be on the cards.  To sum up, considering this current scenario, the significance of aluminium scrap as a raw material input for aluminum production increases manifold and it calls for a much organized and strategic system for aluminium scrap collection and recycling.

    Joseph C. Pickard is the Chief Economist and Director of Commodities for Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. This blog entry was originally posted on AL Circle Editorial Blog.

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