2017 ReMA Convention & Exposition Highlights: Accentuate the Positive

Jul 18, 2017, 17:26 PM
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 Accentuate the Positive

July/August 2017

Forging ahead through market and political uncertainties, the nearly 4,300 attendees at ISRI2017 came together to learn, network, and get down to business in New Orleans.

EXPOHALLNew Orleans’ many charms weren’t the only reasons to feel good at ISRI2017 in April. Signs of life in scrap recycling were abundant throughout the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. While many sessions considered the potential impacts of Trump administration policies and further developments in China’s National Sword trade enforcement effort, positive trends for scrap recycling were evident throughout the convention: Total attendance of 4,296 was on target with organizers’ expectations. The exhibit hall saw steady traffic, and many exhibitors reported brisk business, encouraging them to sign up for booths at next year’s ReMA convention in Las Vegas. Bidding was energetic and generous on more than 60 items donated to the silent auction to support the Recycling Research Foundation. And the young executives group started a Facebook networking community during the convention that boasted 50 members by the end of the event.

Attendees used the convention’s education sessions, social functions, and networking opportunities to prepare themselves for the future, gaining new perspectives on important global issues that will help them improve their businesses.

China still weighs on metal markets

At the convention’s always popular metals spotlights, China’s massive primary metals production—and potential reforms it could implement to become a full member of the World Trade Organization—weighed on most discussions.

Ferrous sessions consider threats to EAFs. World events shape the U.S. ferrous scrap markets, according to speakers at the Spotlight on Ferrous. Steelmaking in China and India, excess iron ore mining in Brazil and Australia, Iran’s direct-reduced iron production, and growth in Russian electric-arc furnace steelmaking capacity all affect North American steelmaking, said John Harris of Aaristic Services (Innisfil, Ontario). Turkey, the top export destination of U.S. ferrous scrap, now runs a “balancing act,” switching between rolling mills and EAFs based on the cost of billet compared with scrap, which “affects the entire market,” he said.

China is still flooding the world with steel, but its efforts to become a global trade partner include planned cuts to steel exports and production capacity, said Becky Hites, president of Steel-Insights (Douglasville, Ga.). Even so, China’s domination of global steel production is likely to continue, she said. Harris outlined China’s success in expanding its land and sea trade routes and its rumored development of steelmaking capacity in east Africa.

Globally, the steel industry is seeing more consolidation while the weak economy is creating a move toward trade protectionism, Hites said. With continued global instability due to political changes, migration, and global conflicts, “economies will not get back into strong growth until these things are resolved,” she said.

In the United States, steel imports have been growing as a proportion of U.S. steel consumption. More effective trade enforcement in 2016 reversed some of that growth, but “imports are not going away,” Hites said. The U.S. steel industry is still “in distress,” with capacity utilization well below 80 percent for most mills. EAFs have higher utilization rates than integrated mills, and EAFs now produce more than 65 percent of U.S. crude steel.

Each 1 percent change in U.S. EAF capacity utilization equals roughly 54,000 tons of ferrous scrap, Harris said, but his models show EAF steelmaking is currently more expensive than basic oxygen furnace steelmaking. BOFs also are faster and produce steel with less copper. EAFs still need scrap, but DRI is cutting into their scrap consumption because it helps EAFs create low-residual steel, he said.

Looking ahead, Harris predicted that 3-D printing of metal products on demand and several other new technologies could change the economics of steelmaking.

Although EAF mills predominate in the United States, BOF steel mills have been growing steadily in market share globally, according to Chris Plummer, managing director at Metal Strategies (West Chester, Pa.). “The electric-arc industry is going to be growing everywhere, [but] we’re running into some headwinds,” he said at a session on EAFs’ role in the future of the scrap industry.

In 2015, the top three global EAF steel producers were India, 50.8 million mt; United States, 49.5 million mt; and China, 48.8 million mt. But China’s share and absolute tonnage volume continue a steady decline, which Plummer said has dragged down the global EAF average to a 25-percent share in 2016. Excluding China, “the world average electric-arc share is actually really high, at 45 percent. It’s been rising steadily at a fairly nice clip,” Plummer said.

Robert Hunter, recently retired from Midrex Technologies (Charlotte, N.C.), reiterated China’s influence on the ferrous markets, including the fears of a possible “tsunami of scrap” leaving China and making its way to the United States. A drastic increase in Chinese ferrous exports could occur within the next 15 years as demolition begins on some of China’s “ghost city” apartment structures, he said, but he believes “it’s going to be bad but not deadly.”

Primary production pressures nickel prices. Nickel is the poorest performing base metal on the LME so far in 2017, according to ISRI’s Joe Pickard at the Spotlight on Nickel/Stainless. Why? Adrian Gardner, principal analyst with Wood Mackenzie (Guildford, Eng­land), pointed to a primary nickel supply that is likely to continue to grow due to ore production in the Philippines and Indonesia and nickel pig iron in China. Analysts expect 75,000 mt more ore production from Indonesia and China by the end of 2018 than there was at the end of 2014.

China’s growing production of stainless has suppressed the West’s need for nickel, Garner said, thus “we do not see any large-scale nickel projects being built in the West” in the next decade at least. Instead, Europe and India are likely to face Chinese dumping of stainless on their markets despite efforts to prevent it. U.S. antidumping efforts have been more successful, protecting some domestic stainless markets.

Despite the glut of nickel globally, less than 1.5 percent of LME nickel is in the United States, said Steve Jones of Stainless Steel Midwest (La Grange, Ky.), creating strong domestic demand for stainless scrap while supply is tight. Growth in oil and gas production is raising stainless demand as well. He expects demand to remain strong through the second quarter and hopes for a positive price direction, but all price growth lately has come from the iron and chrome elements, not nickel, he said.

Global trade in stainless scrap correlates to nickel prices, Pickard noted, with roughly 5 to 6 million mt of stainless scrap traded globally each year. Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States are typically the top exporters, with Belgium the top importer. Setting aside trade within European and North American markets, the top importers were India, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand. China imports just 6 percent of global stainless scrap, “hitting below its weight, but it’s still an important export destination for the U.S.,” he said. In 2016 it was the second-largest destination for U.S. stainless scrap after Canada, with Taiwan, India, and Pakistan rounding out the top five. South Asia “has really come along” as a stainless scrap destination, with Bangladesh and other countries still small-scale importers but with great potential to grow, he said.

Copper trading accelerates with algorithms. The impact of high-frequency traders and investment funds on the copper markets dominated discussion at the Spotlight on Copper. Panel members grappled with how the market has changed since the early 2000s, when trading volume came from commercial accounts. Today, over 60 percent of trading is done by algorithm-based funds, said Edward Meir, commodity research analyst at INTL FCStone (New York).

“Algorithms don’t trade copper,” explained Matt Levine, vice president of Leonard Levine Metals Corp. (Highland Park, Ill.). “They trade numbers.” Those numbers, and the high-frequency traders behind them, have created a huge surge in trading volume. In 2007, fewer than 4 million contracts traded on the Comex; in 2016, 21 million contracts were traded. He warned that algorithms trade faster than scrap traders, and “chances are, we give away margins much more in this industry than we get them.”

Meir explained that prior to the advent of high-frequency trading, copper prices correlated strongly with stocks. That’s no longer the case, making it difficult “for analysts like me” to come to terms with the influx of trading funds, he conceded. Nonetheless, he emphasized that fundamentals still matter when evaluating the outlook for copper prices. Levine agreed, pointing out that supply and demand affect spreads and premiums on cathode.

Audience questions regarding Trump administration plans for infrastructure and defense spending produced ambivalent responses from the panel. Meir pointed out that the United States consumes 8 percent of global copper, while China consumes 50 percent. “So I don’t think it’ll move the needle.” Then, referring to 2016’s postelection surge in commodity prices, he added, “But it got everyone excited, including the funds and CNBC.”

Meir expects prices to remain relatively steady until October, when labor contract negotiations at key copper mines globally could lead to strikes and walkouts and disrupt 1.5 million tons of supply. Meanwhile, Tom Metos, a manager with Kennecott Utah Copper (South Jordan, Utah), a major North American mining operation, brushed off day-to-day and short-term market predictions. “We’re long [on] copper for the next 20 years,” he said, noting the company’s multibillion-dollar investments in mine infrastructure. “We’re not going to change our plan over a two-cent swing.”

Aluminum outlook remains stable despite China. Despite worries about excess global aluminum production capacity and China’s waning appetite for scrap, panelists at the Spotlight on Aluminum session said the metal’s outlook is generally stable for the remainder of the year.

Mike Southwood, an analyst for the Pittsburgh office of CRU International (London), predicted “reasonably positive” demand in 2017, though he noted key players are monitoring the Trump administration to see if new policies will affect markets. Southwood predicts demand for extrusions will increase 2.3 percent and demand for rolled products will increase 3 percent. Castings demand will decline slightly, year on year, because of slightly lower demand for car and truck production, yet he predicts a 20-percent increase in automotive sheet demand because manufacturers such as Ford and Chevrolet plan to make more “aluminum-intensive” models in coming years.

Southwood predicts the average aluminum price per metric ton will be $1,830 in 2017, but that could go up if China makes good on its promise to reduce its aluminum output to align with new environmental standards, he said.

Jeff Henderson, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council (Wauconda, Ill.), said China’s habit of exporting aluminum to deal with over­capacity problems is hurting U.S. extruders in the domestic market. This could jeopardize China’s bid to attain full WTO market economy status, however. If China subsidizes its aluminum output through state-owned enterprises, it will show that the nation “has not executed the reforms that are necessary,” he said.

China isn’t the only country with noteworthy activity in the aluminum sector, said Salam al Sharif, chairman of Sharif Metals (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). Middle Eastern countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council have invested in and expanded their aluminum production capacity in the past 20 years, building almost 5 million mt of capacity in 2016. The GCC countries’ aluminum production capacity now outpaces North America’s, he said. He predicted that volume could double by 2020.

Harry Dillman, a cast products unit manager for Pennex Aluminum Co. (Wellsville, Pa.), warned U.S. scrapyards to keep an eye out for boron carbide alloys, which can contaminate aluminum and ruin melts. Scrapyards can save themselves “from experiencing multiple hundred-thousand-dollar” losses by spotting the telltale signs of contamination: a milled product that seems dull, grainy, or fractured into a shape “like a Christmas tree,” he said.

Plastics recyclers explore new materials, markets

This year’s Plastics Business & Operations Summit, including specialized content the Society of Plastics Engineers (Bethel, Conn.) provided, focused on helping participants navigate current market trends and strategize for the future.

Low energy costs in recent years have lessened the cost of virgin plastics compared with scrap plastics, but plastics recycling still can be profitable and could become more so with proper investments, convention speakers said at the session on the impacts of the new energy boom on scrap plastics.

When businesses rushed to capitalize on cheap virgin feedstock following the crude oil price crash in 2014, recycled resin value dropped as well. Now, the price of scrap plastics is “not what it was in 2013, but it’s still worthwhile going forward,” said Joel Morales, senior director at IHS Markit (London). A lot of polyethylene is coming into the market, but the impact and price dip is less than originally anticipated, Morales said. “That’s good news for recycling because the [prices] are relatively higher,” he said. “It’s a challenging environment, obviously, but there’s good news for both PP and PE on the recycling side.”

Recyclers didn’t invest in robust plastics recycling infrastructure over the past decade because they exported so much material, said Patty Moore of Sustainable Materials Management of California (Sonoma, Calif.). The industry especially needs more investment in processing mixed resins, she said, but large capital expenditures are a tough sell when commodity prices are lower. “We could be doing amazing things, but we have to deal with the reality of the economy,” Moore said. “Nobody wants to do it when they’re not making money.”

The automotive industry is interested in quality recycled plastic materials, but “there are no shortcuts,” said Susan Kozora, director of advanced engineering at the International Automotive Components Group (Southfield, Mich.). The industry will not “take a downstep in quality in order to meet recycling targets,” she said.

Original equipment manufacturers for automakers use recycled resins when doing so saves them money, when the material can meet the same performance standards as virgin resins, and when they can ensure there’s sufficient supply for their needs. Even if your material can meet those three criteria, getting approval is a lengthy and detailed process, according to speakers at a session on getting your recycled resins approved by the auto industry.

Andy Acho, former worldwide director of environmental outreach and strategy for Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, Mich.), named KW Plastics (Troy, Ala.), Wellman Plastics Recycling (Johnsonville, S.C.), and Petoskey Plastics (Petoskey, Mich.) as three successful vendors of recycled resins to Ford. In contrast, Eric Connell, a senior engineer in the materials engineering division of Toyota Motor Corp. North America (Plano, Texas), presented two case studies in which recycled resins did not succeed. In the first case, additives in the recycled resin raised its density, making it heavier than virgin material. In the second case, early problems with contaminants created a negative perception about quality that they could not overcome. The company needs a strong, consistent, and uniform supply, he said.

The approval process for a new material supplier can take as little as three months or as much as a year, explained Sassan Tarahomi of Mitsubishi Chemical Performance Polymers (Warren, Mich.). Start by getting the material requirements and a test plan template from the OEM. Typically you’ll need to test six lots according to the plan and achieve results within a specified range. The approval process differs slightly among the North American, German, and Asian car companies, he said.

Even within those segments, each OEM has its own approval process, added Derek Reed, a senior resin sales executive for PADNOS (Holland, Mich.). The OEM’s purchasing, engineering, and materials divisions all need to buy into the idea of using recycled resins, he said, but materials engineers are the key. The typical steps to approval are material testing, engineer approval of components, molding trials, function and appearance approval, purchasing approval, and the final sign-off from the materials engineer.

The session on recycling auto bumpers illustrated those concepts. They can be recycled back into automobile bumpers, but doing so requires vigorous testing of processing techniques as well as stringent quality control, the speakers said. Manufacturers like the material’s price—using recycled thermoplastic olefin from auto bumpers could save them more than $600,000 annually, said Bill Schreiber, the retired technical director of plastics for Lehigh Technologies (Tucker, Ga.). And contaminant levels are low, with yields of 90 percent or greater even after paint removal, he added. Bumpers are easy and cost-effective to remove from end-of-life vehicles, said IACG’s Kozora. But the regrind must meet the high performance standards of the virgin material.

Schreiber outlined some bumper processing best practices, such as hand-removing all metal pieces before the bumpers enter the granulator, using the correct screen size, and keeping granulator blades sharp. Dull blades could result in phase separation of the TPO, which is a rubber-plastic blend, he said. After granulation, the material goes through one or more cleaning and sorting processes, paint removal, extrusion, and pelletization. Full paint removal is essential, or else the product won’t perform at the same level and new paint won’t adhere properly, the speakers said. Kozora cautioned that different methods of paint removal can affect the physical properties of the TPO or of the various stabilizers added to meet performance standards. Oxidative induction time testing can measure the impact of different paint removal processes, she said.

TPO suppliers to auto parts makers will need to test and certify each batch for quality assurance. Alternative end markets for TPO include half-pipe used in parking lots and septic fields, Schreiber added.

Plastic scrap markets have tight margins from which to squeeze out profits. Because rejected bales are costs that narrow margins further, plastics processors need to find cost-effective methods to improve sorting and reduce rejections, said panelists at a session on bale audit procedures. Jon Stephens of Avangard Innovative (Houston) described new technologies to automate bale identification and tagging, such as improved tracking that can reassure buyers of the materials they’re purchasing. Steve Alexander of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (Washington, D.C.) considered how products containing plastics are designed, protocols for testing plastic bales, and business-to-business knowledge sharing that would improve the industry as a whole. The more in-depth knowledge recyclers have of the materials in their streams, the more efficiently they’ll be able to produce a quality product, he concluded.

Unconventional fillers can be incorporated successfully into plastics, but thoughtful engineering and product design are essential, according to Chris Surbrook of Midland Compounding and Consulting (Midland, Mich.). He presented four case studies examining the use of sawdust, paper shavings, scrap automotive paint, and crumb rubber as filler in customers’ thermoplastic applications.

Besides cost savings, which often is the driver for exploring new fillers, using such items presents new opportunities to recycle materials that might be unrecyclable in their current states, Surbrook said. But when integrating unconventional fillers into plastics, it’s important at the start of product engineering to figure out “the effect of this new product on the recycling stream,” he said. Designers need to research whether the finished material or the unconventional filler could potentially be a contaminant, he said. “Is it going to be disruptive? How is that going to affect or cause special handling needs at its end of life?” Surbrook also noted the importance of adequately labeling and segregating composite plastic products. Some materials—such as crumb rubber or nylon—can be challenging to process if they’re not properly identified in a plastics recycling stream.

Rob Banning of Trimax (St. Louis) presented a new potential filler: cellulose fibers. Using cellulose in plastics improves the characteristics of PE and PP, Banning said, explaining that the end products are more durable, lighter, and less inclined to warp. The cellulose-infused plastics also can be made with 30 to 40 percent less energy because they require a lower molding temperature.

Both postconsumer and postindustrial plastics recycling have plateaued with the current infrastructure and business models, suggested Kevin Cronin, vice president of sustainability and research and development for Ultra-Poly Corp. (Portland, Pa.). Postconsumer resin recyclers are challenged by the commingling of single-stream recyclables, consumer apathy, and materials recovery facilities that can’t handle today’s material streams, he said. Further, with recycled resin’s low and volatile prices, “it’s hard to build a solid economic model.”

Postindustrial plastics recycling has its own challenges: It’s highly transactional—“every truckload is a separate deal [and] has to be vetted,” Cronin said. It’s a highly fractioned marketplace and value stream. And the market “focuses on the lowest-hanging fruit.” Those that don’t recycle their home scrap say it’s not worth the effort or expense. The result, he said, is too much material being landfilled and product designs that are inherently nonrecyclable.

Recyclers need new business models to grow the supply, improve yield, maximize volume, and grow demand with materials that offer higher quality and consistency, Cronin said. He outlined three Ultra-Poly projects in new and challenging markets. “Embedded” recycling operations recycle difficult plastic streams for individual customers for a tolling fee. “Purpose-built” processing facilities handle valuable material that could contaminate other streams. Ultra-Poly built a facility just to process high-density and medium-density PE pads used by fracking operations, for example. It’s a large stream of relatively valuable material, and the technology the company developed could apply to other contaminated streams, he said. A third “extended-loop” recycling initiative takes a high-value stream of plastics from a source that can’t reuse it and finds consumers who can, providing value to both sides.

To “move the needle” on plastics recycling, Cronin advocated more consumer-level education on what to recycle as well as a university-level curriculum to create technology, expertise, and a “viable and attractive career path” in recycling. He also called on brand owners to design products and packaging for sustainability. “If we can’t solve these problems ourselves,” he warned, “the government will solve them.”

The future of trade in recovered resins is online, suggested Sebastiano Novek, CEO and founding partner of Scrapp Inc., an online scrap trading platform that’s in beta testing. The Internet makes comparison shopping and information collection easier and lowers transaction costs, he said. But anonymity, carelessness, and inexperienced brokers can be problems for online transactions.

Paper spec summit addresses proposed changes

At the Paper Stock Industries Chapter summit during the second half of ISRI2017, more than 70 attendees discussed and debated newly proposed language for the preamble section of the paper stock specifications in ISRI’s Scrap Specifications Circular.

A general session on the proposed changes included representation from associations, mills, brokers, and processors, who presented the new language for the preamble. Johnny Gold of Gold Group Consulting (Swampscott, Mass.) described the major sticking points in the subcommittee meetings to create the newly proposed draft preamble, such as whether a zero-tolerance policy for contaminants and prohibitives was necessary or workable.

Moisture content issues the summit addressed included accurate measurement of moisture and determining buyer/seller responsibility in regard to rejections. Linda Leone of WestRock Co. (Norcross, Ga.) reported that the company has tested several moisture measuring devices. While the surface scanning tools were considered more accurate, the probe measuring devices were so close in performance to the surface scans that the issue came down to durability and price. It’s much easier to replace a $500 probe than a $5,000 surface scanner, she said.

Luncheon speakers Brian Taylor of Recycling Today and Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s senior director of government relations and international affairs, addressed what paper processors and traders can expect from the new Trump administration and what might happen to U.S.–China trade relations. China is the largest consumer of recovered paper. Their verdict: Lots of smoke and mirrors are obfuscating the primary trade agendas of the two administrations, which are pursuing more advantageous trade deals.

The summit participants also worked toward combining specifications for domestic and export transactions. The next step will be to harmonize differences between them for presentation to the ReMA board.

Electronics recyclers face new challenges, opportunities

The Spotlight on Electronics addressed the potential recycling and refurbishing impacts of the Internet of Things. Refurbishers can cash in on the resale value of some Internet-capable devices, said Gary Stephens, CEO of Renew Logic (Austin, Texas), yet data security is a major challenge. For example, when turning on a refurbished, Internet-connected TV device for the first time, George Hinkle, president of ARCOA Group (Waukegan, Ill.), clicked on the Gmail icon and accidentally accessed the e-mail account for the stranger who owned the device previously. “That’s a problem,” he said. Craig Boswell, president of HOBI International (Batavia, Ill.), said privacy concerns could go beyond the accidental e-mail breach. “How about a connected car? If I really wanted information on my competitor, I’d buy his top salesman’s BMW, turn on the GPS,” and the sales calls are still listed, he said. Recyclers and refurbishers must learn to apply data destruction techniques to less common smart devices when they inevitably reach the end of life, Stephens said.

While recyclers aim to protect people from data security breaches, they also must protect themselves and workers from battery-related dangers, Stephens said. It can be tough for recyclers to sort through and identify a potentially harmful battery in tiny devices such as a personal fitness monitor. “Batteries are shrinking,” and recyclers are seeing more of them in the stream than ever before, he said.

Recyclers also are concerned about the way manufacturers install batteries. Just five years ago, when a worker took apart a device, “the battery just fell out,” Stephens said. Today, the battery might be glued, clipped, or screwed in so tightly that getting it out might be dangerous for the worker. “When you have to pry a battery out, you have fires,” he said. Some companies have invested in sprinkler systems or specialized prying tools to make the job safer and easier, he said.

People rely more and more on mobile devices to do business, and the connection speed between these devices and the cloud is getting better and faster, panelists noted at a session on cloud computing. That means mobile devices need fewer components to process data—and that’s not great news for recyclers, who rely on collecting and recycling those components. Yet Jenny Schuchert, content director for the International Association of IT Asset Managers, said this growth could result in more recyclers of end-of-life servers from on-site networks or cloud storage.

Companies are expressing more interest in the cloud and demanding more servers, which are getting larger, storing more data, and even duplicating efforts because of specific security needs, she said. For example, a health-care organization might have servers on site but also have an off-site data center because of privacy requirements. “That’s good news for [recyclers] because multiple devices need to be purchased, and they will have to come to the end of the life cycle,” she said.

The cloud storage industry is concerned about data security, so recyclers who want to cash in on these end-of-life servers must prove their data-destruction measures are top notch, noted Lane Epperson, president of HiTech Assets (Oklahoma City). Some companies won’t allow their servers to be refurbished because “they are not willing to accept any [data-breach] risk whatsoever because of security issues.”

As electronic devices get smaller, they are manufactured with fewer recyclable materials and are harder to collect—and that means thinner profit margins for recyclers, said Jim Levine, president of Regency Technologies (Twinsburg, Ohio). Years ago, recyclers were skilled at taking electronics apart and identifying the parts that could be repaired or recycled, “but now, these things are in your pocket, they fall into the street, or they lack material [that can be recycled] for an economic benefit,” he said at a session on electronics miniaturization.

Some of the smallest devices are simply not repairable or recyclable currently, said Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit (San Luis Obispo, Calif.). The tiny, cordless Apple EarPods are one example. He predicted knowledge sharing will help make this process easier in the years to come. “Fixers are smart. … They are figuring out ways to take apart small things for repair.”

Another challenge is keeping track of thousands of different types of cellphone models and other electronic devices. Recyclers and refurbishers can’t predict which models will have value until they learn more about what’s inside, Levine said. Recyclers also have to estimate how much labor it will take to recycle or repair—and how much that labor will eat into profits.

What’s old in scrap tires is new again

Fear has driven disruptions in important tire and rubber markets, such as tire-derived fuel and recycled rubber infill for sports surfaces, said speakers at the Spotlight on Tires/Rubber. By shutting down sites that consume tires and not permitting the scrap tires to be landfilled, however, regulators could be creating even scarier problems. Since the 2013 shutdown of a TDF plant in Sterling, Conn., for example, processors in the state have stockpiled 8 million tires in shredded form, creating “a disaster looking for a place to happen,” said Terry Gray, president of TAG Resource Recovery (Houston). And in places like Puerto Rico, stockpiled tires create breeding habitats for mosquitoes that carry diseases such as Zika, “the scariest of all” problems he’s seen, he said.

Just as end users of TDF backed off using it in the late 1990s because of fears of zinc levels, the market for mulch and infill today is down due to health concerns, said Elizabeth Hoover, environmental program coordinator at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Along with mulch, playgrounds and sports facilities make up 50 percent of the total crumb rubber market, but “they’re under attack,” Gray said, warning that despite multiple studies showing the concerns are not warranted, “emotional mothers are going to win … over all the science in the world.”

A remedy for disruption is diversification, and Hoover recommended that tire processors maintain at least two market streams. They could also use the services of a broker that has various consumer customers so they can concentrate on making their products.

Product innovation is another remedy for disruption, suggested Kyle Eastman, vice president of crumb rubber sales and development at Liberty Tire Recycling (Pittsburgh). For example, Liberty is developing thermal panels that use crumb rubber as an insert to conduct heat.

ReRubber (Ontario, Calif.) CEO and President J.D. Wang described his company’s research and development efforts to create more downstream applications for recycled rubber, particularly for powder. Since new product adoption rates tend to be faster in Asian markets, he said reRubber’s strategy has been to innovate in the United States and implement in Asia, “work out the kinks, and then bring it back to the U.S.”

“Things are tough” for tire and rubber processors—so tough, they’re talking about civil engineering applications again, “which most of us, as processors, wish we’d moved past a long time ago,” Liberty’s Eastman noted in the spotlight. At the session focusing on civil engineering markets, Mark Rannie of Emanuel Tire Co. (Baltimore) agreed that it’s something “we need to look at again” because markets are about getting paid for what you produce, and civil engineering offers an opportunity for continued growth. “What we know in this business is that tires don’t stop. If markets go away, meaning places to put [tires] go away, we’re in trouble, and … we’re in trouble today,” he said.

“Tires are starting to stack up again, and we need to find markets for them,” agreed Monte Niemi, founder and CEO of First State Tire Recycling (Isanti, Minn.). He described the facility, licensing, and other requirements for creating and marketing tire-derived aggregate used in a variety of construction projects, such as retaining walls, solar insulation, rail vibration mitigation, building stabilization, and stormwater retention systems.

Becoming a supplier of TDA is more than shredding tires, Niemi said. He recommended that processors become experts who can answer the questions of contractors, engineers, and even passersby at construction sites. Instead of thinking about how to get rid of their material, processors need to think about how to build an industry, Niemi said. You do that by being a partner to engineers and departments of transportation and solving the problems they bring to you.

In a session on using recycled rubber in road construction, Gary Hicks of the California Pavement Preservation Center at California State University, Chico, said that in recent years, asphalt rubber’s performance has improved, lasting longer and enabling users to reduce its thickness. It also has become very cost-effective.

So what can tire recyclers do to help expand the demand for AR as paving material? The challenge is to explain the technologies to the decisionmakers, such as state highway departments and the contractors they hire, said Barry Takallou, president and CEO of CRM Co. (Crumb Rubber Manufacturers) (Newport Beach, Calif.). Despite the studies that say it’s cost-effective, transportation departments argue incorrectly that AR pavement requires new equipment and is not cost-effective, he said.

Takallou encouraged participants at the session to form an action committee to generate ideas, such as collaborating with technical experts, to address this challenge. “Our pavement system in the United States … is in the ICU room right now—[it] is dying, … and the DOT is saying let it die,” he said. AR is a product that works, and it’s demonstrated that it works, Takallou asserted.

Pyrolysis turns a tire into 10 pounds of oil, 6 pounds of carbon black, 2 pounds of syngas, and 3 pounds of steel, said Ray Riek, principal of R&D Management Consulting (Lake St. Louis, Mo.). He predicts commercial-scale tire pyrolysis is likely to succeed in the United States in the next three to five years. Profitability will come not from the oil, but from the carbon black. When recovered properly—not “overcooked”—and milled and pelletized, it can find a market, he said. It’s competitive with virgin carbon black, which is made by burning oil, when oil is more than $40 a barrel.

Two-thirds of the carbon black market is tire rubber; the remainder goes into other rubber and plastic products or it’s used as colorant. To become a carbon black supplier to major manufacturers, you must invest in quality certification and testing, a process that can take up to five years, Riek said. In February, ASTM International began developing a standard for recovered carbon black, which should aid market development, he added.

“Pyro oil” typically sells as heating or blending oil, but it can’t compete with today’s low natural gas and oil prices, Riek said. Crude oil would have to reach prices above $80 a barrel for it to be competitive, he suggested. Instead, “you can get 60-percent margins on the carbon and break even on the oil.”

Some engineering problems remain barriers to large-scale pyrolysis operations, but Riek believes they’re resolvable. “People are on the verge of success, but they need the operations, marketing, technical, and financial skills in place, and no one yet has all of them,” he said. A partnership, such as Delta Energy’s relationship with Bridgestone, might make it possible. He suggested a multisite operation aiming for $100 million in revenue should be the goal.

Location can be a factor in success, he said, because 20 to 30 percent of the cost can be shipping. He believes the Rust Belt has the population, the demand, and the scrap tire supply to support a facility. Input volumes of 70 to 100 tons of tires a day could be “financially viable [with] investment-grade returns.” He cautioned recyclers that pyrolysis is a chemical business and requires staff with the expertise to meet technically oriented consumers’ needs.

Exploring EV and aircraft recycling

The supply of end-of-life plug-in electric vehicles is growing, as is the supply of end-of-life airplanes, but recycling either one poses hazards scrap recyclers should understand.

In terms of power, think of a lead-acid car battery as a tricycle. The most advanced lithium-ion electric car battery, in comparison, is the Apollo space capsule, said Michael Burz, president and co-founder of EnZinc (San Anselmo, Calif.). “It’s a tremendous amount of energy and nothing to be trifled with.” The end-of-life management of vehicles with lithium-ion batteries is still a question.

Plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries typically span the entire bottom of the car. The newest Tesla vehicle battery has 260 watt-hours per kilogram and weighs 1,100 pounds.

Li-ion EV batteries are complex systems of cells, modules, and a management system designed to prevent a single cell failure from creating “thermal runaway,” a chain reaction of overheating and explosion. Each battery also contains cables, a cooling system—which often contains flammable glycol—and a casing, with additional shielding below the battery to protect it from road damage.

Fire is one concern in EVs with these batteries. Burz noted instances of fires in parked EVs, one several weeks after it finished a crash test, most likely due to a slow leak of electrolyte from the cells. Water cannot be used on such fires, but foam can at least cool them in an attempt to prevent the chain reaction, he said. He advises clearing a 25-foot radius and calling the fire department.

Li-ion EVs have special dismantling requirements, too. A cut in the wrong place “could result in serious injury or death,” Burz said. Manufacturers have guidance online for first responders to identify no-cut zones and other hazards, but he suggests that recyclers contact the dealer for battery removal. In addition to the electric shock and fire hazards, he cautioned recyclers about these vehicles’ greater weight.

The infrastructure for recycling Li-ion EVs does not yet exist, said David Wagger, ISRI’s chief scientist and director of environmental management. With significant numbers expected to hit the scrap stream as soon as 2020, Burz said, “now’s the time” for recyclers to work with engineers, manufacturers, and other groups to create the needed systems.

Opportunities exist in aircraft recycling, but planes contain numerous human and environmental hazards, cautioned Tim Zemanovic, general manager of Jet Yard (Marana, Ariz.), which stores, dismantles, and recycles airplanes. Planes built before 1982 can contain up to 400 pounds’ worth of depleted uranium, which was used as counterweights. Newer planes could have other radioactive material, including in exit signs and smoke detectors. Also of concern are fuel, hydraulic fluids, oil, nickel-cadmium batteries, and hydraulic accumulators with fluid pressurized up to 3,000 psi. When dismantling a plane, “if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get in trouble quickly,” Zemanovic said.

The Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (Washington, D.C.) provides guidance on proper recycling and business practices, Zemanovic said. Between parts and materials recovery, 85 percent of a plane can be recycled now, but the goal is 95 percent, he said. AFRA has created best management practices and two types of accreditation, for disassembly and recycling.

Most aircraft first get disassembled for resalable parts. Each part is tagged, inspected, and overhauled before it’s reused. “A couple thousand parts can be resold per plane,” Zemanovic said, totaling 40 to 50 percent of the plane by weight. A typical aircraft contains $1 million to $3 million in parts, he said, with the engine 70 percent or more of a plane’s end-of-life value. Damaged parts must be mutilated and destroyed.

Metals in a plane include some less-desirable alloys, such as 2000-series and 7000-series aluminum, the most common alloys in the fuselage and wings, respectively, he said. Different metals, such as titanium and steel, are riveted and bolted together, thus they might remain together even after shredding. Altogether, a plane might contain 4 tons of titanium, copper wire, stainless steel, and other recyclable metals, he said, but the cost of dismantling and processing—including managing hazards—could exceed the value of the parts and material.

An estimated 400 to 600 planes are dismantled in the United States each year, Zemanovic said. The end-of-life aircraft supply is concentrated in the Southeast and Southwest, particularly Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. In addition to dismantling and recycling, he sees opportunity for companies to broker material from aircraft, which is “always a challenge.”

The economy, trade, and global markets

Panelists at the Spotlight on the Economy wrestled with two questions: Where can the construction and automotive industries find skilled workers to fill increasing demand? And how will the Trump administration’s new policies and budget affect these sectors?

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said economists are holding their breath to see how the construction sector will fare in the next few years. “The continuing worry is where to find workers,” he said. One area of uncertainty is how the Trump administration’s immigration restrictions will affect hiring for construction-related jobs. The country relies heavily on immigrants to fill construction jobs, but both immigrant and native-born populations are declining in the United States, “which can hurt productivity,” he said.

Simonson said 43 states had added construction jobs since February 2016, but some major metro areas have had trouble filling those positions, especially with skilled workers such as carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. “A lot of firms are raising base pay” and providing bonuses and in-house training because they must hire less-experienced workers, he said.

The automotive industry worries about finding skilled workers who can handle high-tech manufacturing for projects such as self-driving cars. “Jobs today require special skills, and our pipeline of education isn’t sufficient,” said retired Ford executive Andy Acho. He predicts that the automotive industry could be 2 million people short for skilled jobs in the coming years. In a market that is “fast, furious, and uncertain,” car companies also need to embrace sustainability initiatives, which younger-generation workers demand, he said. That means using more recycled materials. Simonson agreed that recycled materials and sustainability are the wave of the future: “Owners are focused on the bottom line, but you have to convince them they will save money by going with a higher standard.”

In the session on what to expect in U.S. trade policy over the next four years, Scott Miller of the Center for Strategic and International Studies explained that the current administration’s push for economic nationalism is complicated because “the United States [is] the largest economy in the world, but we’re deeply integrated with the world,” especially when it comes to trade. “Today, close to one-third of U.S. output is driven by imports and exports,” compared with less than 10 percent in the 1950s, he said.

Two-thirds of the United States’ trade is with Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and the European Union, Miller said. Easing trade frictions with China is particularly important because the United States exports more scrap to China than to any other country. “The question is, how do we make that relationship productive and not destructive?” he said.

Tightening U.S. trade policies to boost American businesses—in the form of border taxes, for example—could result in retaliation or mimicry as other countries also turn toward nationalism, said consultant Paul DeLaney of Kyle House Group. “China will be an immediate test for some of the concepts of the new administration, as far as reciprocal trade,” he said.

Another hot trade topic is the uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement. “Tremendously complex, highly specialized production networks have developed” in NAFTA’s 23 years of existence, Miller said, and altering those supply chains could affect the U.S. economy. Dissolving NAFTA would instantly deem anything made in the three involved economies less globally competitive, Miller said. “There’s a big downside if we mess it up.”

DeLaney recommended contacting members of Congress or the administration to voice opinions—good or bad—of upcoming trade and tax measures. Scrap recyclers shouldn’t “assume [government officials] understand what you do or the implications of tax reform on your business,” he said. “Industry plays a critical role in helping them with the education process.”

There likely will be no major changes to NAFTA for at least two or three years, said ISRI’s Adina Renee Adler. In the meantime, Carrie Kroll McMullan, counsel at Washington, D.C.–based international trade and customs group Venable, offered guidelines for scrap processors and traders seeking to do business with Mexico now.

She recommended taking a gradual approach. Start by participating in a trade show, co-hosting a networking event with a similar company, or partnering with a trade association. This gets a foot in the door, she said, and “we often find that the market opens up when you are considered a local. That’s very true in Mexico, where relationships are very important.” For longer-term opportunities such as manufacturing, consider a joint venture or investing in a local entity such as a maquiladora, which can offer cost savings in terms of labor, duties, and taxes.

Before constructing a facility in Mexico, McMullan advised researching the different locales and weighing their advantages and dis­advantages, such as the cosmopolitanism of Mexico City versus the indigenous culture and geography of a more rural area.

China is still a big influence on the global scrap trade despite its waning appetite for scrap. In the coming years, however, developing countries will start participating more in the market, which will open up more trade routes—and introduce more competition, journalist Adam Minter said.

China’s appetite for scrap is slowing down, in part because China now generates a “significant” amount of its own scrap, he said. Despite predictions that China’s labor force was unstoppable, China is now seeing its labor force shrinking as its working-age population ages. This will drive labor costs higher, Minter said.

Yet China still holds an undeniable influence over the global scrap trade. Minter predicts that in the next 10 years, contracts will begin to use Shanghai Futures Exchange prices instead of London Metal Exchange prices. “China’s footprint is too big for the Shanghai Futures Exchange to remain irrelevant forever,” he said.

Other countries are poised to become bigger players in the scrap trade, including countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. China has subsidized infrastructure in the region in order to link these countries to its trade routes, Minter said. China also has turned its attention to trade in Kenya and other African nations.

To compete against these growing markets, North America and Europe will have to work harder to keep producing high-quality scrap, he said. Currently, North American and European scrap is higher quality than that coming from developing countries, but this could change if North American and European processors and exporters aren’t careful, Minter said. “More and more, quality will dictate how successful or not you are in the global scrap trade,” he said.

Global scrap traders have been paying close attention to China following news about the possible expansion of its National Sword 2017 campaign, which launched in February. Although vaguely worded, the government statement implied additional scrap import crackdowns over the next year.

Government policies are critically important to Chinese businesses, said Robin Cai, general manager of Alter Metal Recycling’s (St. Louis) Hong Kong office, at a session focused on how to do business in China. Policy affects everything, including costs, licensing, and the ability to import materials. Plus, regulations have pushed Chinese scrap dealers to favor cleaner, higher-grade commodities. Regulatory controls resulted in a 14-percent dip in Chinese scrap imports from 2014 to 2015, and more restrictions could cause further decreases, said Steve Wong, managing director of Hong Kong–based Fukutomi Co.

Certain Chinese business practices differ from U.S. scrap recyclers’ preferred methods, but David Chiao of Uni-All Group (Atlanta) recommended embracing such cultural differences rather than fighting them. He suggested viewing China not as one enormous, homogeneous country, but rather as a continent with many diverse regions, ethnic groups, languages, and customs. Doing business successfully with someone in China involves catering to that person’s customs, he said. China’s scrap industry also feels the effects of an ongoing labor force transformation: “China is shifting from manufacturing to service. This is something we need to watch,” Chiao said.

Things are moving fast in India, bringing opportunities for those who are ready, said Sunil Barthwal, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of Steel. During the session on doing business in India, Barthwal said India is the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of crude steel. More than half of India’s current steel production is in electric-arc furnaces, the output from which is expected to reach 140 million tons by 2030, he said. Domestic scrap production will not keep up with future demand, he said, forecasting an estimated 46 million mt of ferrous scrap production but 55 million mt of demand by 2021–22.

“Please, then, remove the import duty on ferrous scrap” to reduce that deficit, urged fellow panelist Zain Nathani of the Nathani Group of Cos. (Mumbai) and vice president of the Metal Recycling Association of India (Mumbai). “There is a deficit; we all recognize it. There is no reason why importers and steel manufacturers should be penalized with any sort of import duty,” he said. Nathani described MRAI’s work with the Indian government to ease doing business there. In addition to imports of shredded ferrous scrap, India now allows the import of certain unshredded grades, such as heavy melting steel, as long as the material comes through one of 14 ports. “That is a huge relief for Indian steel mills,” he said.

India currently lags behind China as an importer of scrap plastic from the United States, noted Sunil Bagaria, CEO of plastics, paper, and paint trading firm GDB International (New Brunswick, N.J.). He cited challenges such as “customs procedures [that are] still very burdensome,” the emphasis on paper documentation in a digital age, and “corruption [that is] deeply ingrained … [and that] impacts cross-border trade.” Industry needs dialogue with government to improve recycling in India, he said. Those in the Indian government who object to importing plastic scrap claim it hurts the domestic recycling industry, but “that is not true,” he said. “Let the industry decide. If the scrap meets the quality and environmental regulations, then let there be competition.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a voluntary program that could help companies that export or import materials reduce inspection time and more easily clear their loads at U.S. ports and land borders. Developed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program works with the World Customs Organization to develop and apply import criteria and security guidelines to prevent illicit smuggling and terrorist infiltration, explained John Cisneros and Phil Thompson, C-TPAT supply-chain security specialists.

The goal of the program is to prevent “the bad stuff” crossing the U.S. border from high-risk exporting countries such as Mexico, Cisneros said, showing illustrations of concealment tactics smugglers have used in truck shipments, containers, railcars, and so on. As Thompson pointed out, smugglers don’t necessarily want your cargo; they want your conveyance to move their cargo. C-TPAT, which currently has nearly 11,000 members, originally allowed only importers in the program, but now other companies may join if they commit to adhering to the minimum-security criteria—procedures intended to prevent a supply-chain breach. Participating in the C-TPAT is marketable, Cisneros said, because “it tells your partners you’re following the rules and guidelines.”

Guidance on residential recycling, stormwater management

ISRI2017 also offered practical ideas for improving municipal recycling programs and stormwater management at metals processing facilities.

Working with the public. When it comes to getting the public to dispose of their recyclables properly, “we’ve made a mess for the consumer” by changing recycling do’s and don’ts and confusing people, creating even more contamination, said Julie Colehour, partner of social marketing and public relations firm C+C (Seattle). As a result of this confusion, half of what’s in people’s trash cans is still recyclable, even though they think they’re doing a good job of recycling, Colehour said during a session on improving curbside collection programs through outreach and education.

The key, she said, is to make recycling personally relevant to people and to be creative about conducting research. One approach is to interview people in their homes to observe the reality of their recycling habits.

“We want more, better recycling,” said Jason Hale, vice president of communications for The Recycling Partnership (Falls Church, Va.), noting that contamination rates are on the rise in curbside collections. To reduce confusion, he recommended using simple messaging and less-complex terminology for community recycling programs, such as saying cardboard instead of OCC.

Focus on the most important message for the particular community, such as handling plastic bags properly or fighting contamination, he added. Recyclers also can provide personalized feedback, such as by placing tags on the recycling carts that say “Oops” for recycling something incorrectly or “Shine on” when residents do a good job. Follow up with a basic public-service campaign, which can reinforce positive recycling habits by appealing to people’s emotions, he said.

Using images and written instructions for recycling cart labels is another approach to outreach that gets down to the basics, according to Bob Gedert, affiliate associate contractor with Resource Recycling Systems (Ann Arbor, Mich.). Even the messaging on your trucks is a way to reach out and gain public trust, he said. “Follow that (blue) truck if you doubt it’s going to a MRF as opposed to a landfill.” Municipalities should base their recycling program’s message on local values, such as emphasizing that the program creates jobs or that it contributes to the circular economy, he recommended.

Stormwater management best practices. ReMA is preparing a stormwater control manual based on the results of a review of facilities that have strong best management practices, so that managers can find the practices that work best for them, ISRI’s David Wagger said.

Robert Pitt, emeritus Cudworth professor of urban water systems at the University of Alabama, described his work toward creating an industry-specific stormwater management model that will help scrapyards predict the effectiveness of existing or proposed control practices. He aims to develop a version of the popular runoff-evaluation program WinSLAMM (Windows-based source loading and management model) calibrated for metal recycling operations.

A recent ISRI-funded study gathered data from several metal recycling facilities across the United States with outdoor operations that typically have concrete areas, galvanized metal roofs, or storage areas with severely compacted soil. The study evaluated control practices used separately and in combination, such as hydrodynamic separators, sand filters, ponds, coagulation to remove dissolved metals, and treatment trains composed of multiple controls. “None of these were able to reduce everything at a significant level, but some certainly were better than others,” Pitt said. He added that “going through a treatment train … was generally the most robust because we have complementary processes that are operated together.”

Kent Kiser, Bernie Lee, Adam Minter, Rachel H. Pollack, Katie Pyzyk, Megan Quinn, and Cynthia G. Wagner.




Perception and Communication as Business Tools

Becoming more observant of the world around you can give you key information that could make a difference in an important transaction, human resource management, or safety. But even looking at the same scene, “no two people see anything the same way,” said opening general session speaker Amy Herman, an art historian and author of Visual Intelligence. That’s why people come away from the same meeting with different conclusions about what they saw and heard, she said.

Herman uses works of art in her workshops to train medical students, law enforcement officers, and other professionals how to see details, look at things from different angles and perspectives, and take note of information that might be missing. To succeed in business, you must assess, analyze, articulate, and act on all this information, and “you need to do a better job of communicating what you perceive,” she said.

Herman demonstrated this point in an exercise that had audience members work in pairs. One person in each pair described a painting; the other listened, then tried to identify which of three paintings matched the partner’s description. To succeed, the describer had to provide as much detail as possible, and the listener had to note both what was included in the description and what was left out. “Use every piece of information you have,” Herman advised. “A detail could be a game changer.”


Promoting Dirty Jobs—and the Recycling Industry

Mike Rowe, the ISRI2017 closing general session speaker, knows a thing or two about “the wide, beautiful, dirty world of work,” as he puts it. For nine years—from 2003 to 2012—he hosted Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel, serving as an apprentice in 300 challenging work environments. In his ReMA talk, Rowe recounted how the idea for the show stemmed from a 2001 program he filmed in San Francisco’s sewers for CBS’s Evening Magazine. That segment captured Rowe’s experiences coping with the sewer’s physical constraints (low ceilings and 105 degree F heat), contents (no explanation needed), and wildlife (roaches and rats). He referred to the experience as a peripeteia, using the Greek term for the literary device in which a character experiences a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances. In his case, the reversal catapulted him to unexpected fame.

As he filmed Dirty Jobs across all 50 states, Rowe said, he learned that recruiting qualified employees is the “single hardest challenge” for business owners. That inspired him to start the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to promote training for skilled jobs and “convince kids that it’s OK to work with their hands.” To attract workers to the scrap industry, Rowe encouraged the ReMA convention attendees to become public representatives and advocates for their industry. “What you’re doing is out of sight,” he said. “People don’t get it because they don’t see it. Nobody thinks about what you do.”



Cutler, Carpenter Glean Lifetime Honors

Herschel Cutler and Crawford Carpenter each received the ReMA Lifetime Achievement Award at the association’s 2017 convention, becoming the 28th and 29th individuals to earn the honor since its inception in 2004.

Cutler, ISRI’s first executive director, led one of its predecessor associations, the Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, and oversaw its merger with the National Association of Recycling Industries in 1987. He credited ISRI’s many achievements on behalf of the industry to its ability “to think creatively, to try to anticipate problems before they arose, and to have solutions ready to be implemented should the issue become reality.”

Carpenter devoted his career to the papermaking and recovered paper sectors from 1971 to his retirement this year from Caraustar Industries (Miami). During his tenure with The Newark Group (Cranford, N.J.), Carpenter began volunteering with ReMA and its Paper Stock Industries Chapter. Over the years he held numerous ReMA leadership positions, including PSI president, member of the Paper Division board, member of the ReMA national board, vice chair of ISRI’s Education and Training Committee, and president of the Recycling Research Foundation.

View videos of Cutler, Carpenter, and other ISRI2017 honorees at ISRI’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/ISRI1987/playlists



ISRI Honors Leaders in Transportation Safety

ISRI named OmniSource Corp. (Fort Wayne, Ind.) driver Gene Reed its Safe Driver of the Year. In addition to honoring Reed’s record of 46 verifiable years of safe driving with no preventable accidents, judges lauded his commitment to community service—including volunteering with the Red Cross in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, observed ReMA Chair-Elect Brian Shine of Manitoba Corp. (Lancaster, N.Y.).

ISRI presented the Golden Wrench Award to Forrest Matheny of Cohen Recycling (Middletown, Ohio). The award honors the year’s best heavy-vehicle maintenance technician or manager, whose efforts help ensure commercial vehicles are safe on the road.

ISRI Transportation Award winners for fleet safety in 2016 were as follows: General Metals of Tacoma (Schnitzer Steel Industries) (Tacoma, Wash.), first place, Best Fleet, and Pacesetter Award, Small Class (300,000–500,000 miles); Berman Bros. (Jacksonville, Fla.), second place, Best Fleet, Small Class; Shine Bros. Corp. (Spencer, Iowa), third place, Best Fleet, Small Class; Rochester Iron and Metal (Rochester, Ind.), first place, Best Fleet, Intermediate Class (500,001–1 million miles); United Scrap Metal (Cicero, Ill.), second place, Best Fleet, and Pacesetter Award, Intermediate Class; Consolidated Scrap Resources (York, Pa.), third place, Best Fleet, Intermediate Class; Pick N Pull Auto Dismantlers (Schnitzer Steel Industries) (Portland, Ore.), first place, Best Fleet, and Pacesetter Award, Medium Class (1,000,001–5 million miles); LP Transport (LP Padnos) (Holland, Mich.), second place, Best Fleet, Medium Class; Schupan & Sons (Kalamazoo, Mich.), third place, Best Fleet, Medium Class; and OmniSource Transport (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Best Fleet and Pacesetter, Large Class (more than 5 million miles).



EcoStrate Receives DFR Award

ISRI selected EcoStrate SFS (Arlington, Texas) as the 2017 Design for Recycling® Award winner for its efforts to recycle “challenging” scrap streams into composite products. In particular, the company uses plastics from end-of-life electronics, textile scrap, and packaging waste to make composite traffic signage, flooring, and other products for building and substrate markets. EcoStrate manufactures its products at a commercial-scale facility in California, with plans to open additional operations in Texas and elsewhere around the globe, said CEO Ron Sherga in his acceptance speech. The firm’s composite material also is recyclable at the end of its useful life. The DfR Award recognizes companies that advance product recyclability and sustainability by designing their products with recycling in mind.



Bids Fund Recycling Research and Scholarships

A black cowboy hat—sculpted from an old filing cabinet and bicycle chain—proved the most popular item among bidders at the annual silent auction to benefit the Recycling Research Foundation, a nonprofit associated with ISRI. The sculpture, made by scrap metal artist Kathy Walton, was donated by ISRI’s Southeast Chapter. Another popular item, earning the highest final bid of $3,250, was the NASCAR event package donated by Textron Aviation.

Thanks to these donations and 60 other items—including sculptures, luggage, hotel packages, trade publication ads, equipment, and other goodies—the 2017 silent auction netted $25,000. That’s nearly 40 percent more than last year’s silent auction.

Thanks to all the donors—and congratulations to the auction winners. For more information about RRF and the silent auction planned for ISRI2018 in Las Vegas, contact Natasha Grant, 202/662-8524 or ngrant@isri.org.


Forging ahead through market and political uncertainties, the nearly 4,300 attendees at ISRI2017 came together to learn, network, and get down to business in New Orleans.

  • 2017

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