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ISRI convention draws large crowd, national attention

May 31, 2014 | 08:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, ISRI, Jerry Simms, Hillary Clinton, Steve Wozniak, Doug Kramer, Thomas Danjczek, Rich Brady OmniSource

More than 5,700 attendees gathered at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ annual convention and exposition in Las Vegas in April to hear presentations and discussions on issues ranging from regulations and safety to the environment and the general economy.

During the nearly weeklong conference, they heard from dozens of industry experts, had a chance to visit with hundreds of exhibitors showing off the latest in services, products and technologies, and also had the opportunity to hear former first lady, senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to boot—or, more accurately, to shoe.

Outgoing ISRI chairman Jerry Simms opened the convention by touting the accomplishments of his administration over the past two years. He reflected on progress made on five “key issues” that he identified upon assuming the ISRI chairmanship in 2012, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that recyclers could recover plastics from automobile shredder aggregate, the introduction of a “comprehensive strategy” on the theft of scrap materials and progress on the “extremely critical” issue of industry safety standards.

The opening session included a keynote speech from Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak, who said he would welcome suggestions from the ISRI convention audience regarding how technology could help further develop the recycling industry.

In a warning issued during the closing session of the convention, ISRI chairman-elect Doug Kramer said that the EPA and Congress are unable to understand the “difference between waste disposal and recycling” and highlighted the challenges faced by the industry amid increased regulation. “If these (regulatory) decisions don’t go our way, we as an industry may be in for the fight of our lifetime,” he said.

Outlining his administration’s goals for the next two years, Kramer placed particular emphasis on safety, praising the recycling industry as “a safe industry” but stressing the need to continue efforts to become safer. “We choose to be safe,” he said, drawing on President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice University in Texas. ISRI’s safety initiatives are being undertaken “not because they’re easy, but because they’re right.”

Kramer, president of Kramer Metals Inc., Los Angeles, also expressed his desire for more ISRI members to become involved with the group’s functions and services, noting that “the playing field is level at ISRI. The size of your company doesn’t matter.”

The U.S. steel industry does “not satisfy” the domestic scrap metal market, former Steel Manufacturers Association president Thomas A. Danjczek said, noting that a “significant amount of (steel) imports could be replaced” by domestic production.

While “the North American steel market has shown real resiliency” in recent years, the industry “ought to use more scrap here,” Danjczek said in the “Spotlight on Ferrous” panel. He noted the “importance of self-sufficiency” within the domestic steel industry and cited “real benefits” of increased steel production for steelmakers and the scrap industry. The U.S. steel market imports about 30 percent of its material, Danjczek said, adding that the industry is “cyclical in performance, but not in volume.”

Rich Brady, executive vice president of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based OmniSource Corp.’s Southeast operations, also spoke on the panel, pointing out the increasing number of shredders in the scrap industry. “People recognize that it’s an efficient way to process these materials,” he said, highlighting the “need to be a low-cost producer” in today’s market.

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