Last month, in collaboration with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), ISRI hosted its first ever MRF Summit. The purpose of the Summit was to bring together recyclers, municipalities, and brand owners to talk about common issues and provide solutions for MRFs to the problems they are currently experiencing due to the shifting markets the industry has experienced over the course of the year.
There has been a proliferation of announcements by foreign governments of late, like Vietnam and Taiwan about limiting exports of scrap into their countries, changing specification’s allowable contamination rates, etc. All of us in the paper business need be mindful always about quality, but especially in these times when exporting or when selling domestic. Market volatility will only invite speculation on the quality of U.S. scrap paper. Our message is clear that we have the highest quality and most sought after scrap paper to import.
Our turnout for the event exceeded our expectations for attendance and were filled with engaged discussions on how to improve recycling quality at the MRFs. While many of the largest MRF operators participated, we would like to see more of the smaller operators come and share their success stories and concerns at future events. It is evident that increased communication between municipal recycling administrators and MRF managers needs to occur if we are to have any hope of tackling the quality issue.
We need to seize this opportunity and keep the momentum going with ever increasing dialogue between all of the stakeholders. Let’s clarify the language we’re using and educate the industries and communities we support with a better understanding of what we bring to the manufacturing supply-chain. However, we should not forget that recycling has local and regional problems that may require tweaked solutions.
We, as an association, need ISRI’s “Better Bin” inbound specs to gain greater acceptance and adherence by the municipalities and their constituents to help our processors continue to produce the best quality scrap fiber bales sold in the world. The PSI Chapter has been proactive and working diligently to improve the quality of the recycling stream. Through a collaborative effort, the with the ISRI’s Paper Division, together we recently included an update to the “Guidelines for Paper Stock” in ISRI’s Scrap Specifications Circular that among other changes, clearly lists items that are considered “Prohibitive Materials” and should not be included in the recycling stream. In addition, for the first time, “Zero Tolerance” of any material that contains any amount of Medical, Organic, Food Waste, Hazardous, Poisonous, Radioactive or Toxic waste and other harmful substances or liquids. Other changes we have brought to the ISRI Specifications “Guidelines for Paper Stock” include the integration of the Domestic Transactions and Export Transactions. This is intended to streamline and improve the trade of paper scrap commodities as changes take place in the global marketplace. In addition, moisture allowances on outbound shipments from processor to consumer were updated. The new “Guidelines for Paper Stock” can be found on page 26 of the Scrap Specifications Circular.
Together we can bring all of the stakeholders together and create the relationships that will keep our industry strong.
Linda Leone, ISRI Paper Division Chair
Leonard Zeid, PSI Chapter President