In the modern scrap era—from 1900 onward—U.S. recyclers have faced one international issue more times than any other: export controls.
One notable case arose in 2004, when the Copper and Brass Fabricators Council and the Non-Ferrous Founders’ Society filed a petition seeking export controls on copper and copper-alloy scrap. In addition to claiming that such scrap was in short supply in the domestic market, the groups noted the dramatic rise in copper scrap prices in the previous year and attributed the market challenges to China’s unfair trade practices. ISRI launched an aggressive defense, retaining Patton Boggs, a Washington, D.C., law firm with expertise in export-control matters, and filing comments with the U.S. Department of Commerce, countering each of the petition’s claims and promoting the industry’s free and fair trade policy. “When we put everything together,” recalls Scott Horne, ISRI’s former general counsel and vice president of government relations, now retired, “it became evident that there was a more-than-adequate supply of material available; however, it was available at a higher cost than the plaintiffs wanted to pay.” In the end, the Commerce Department rejected the petition.