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 bootor, 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 Agencys 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 dont go our way, we as an industry may be in for the fight of our lifetime, he said.
Outlining his administrations 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. Kennedys 1962 speech at Rice University in Texas. ISRIs safety initiatives are being undertaken not because theyre easy, but because theyre right.
Kramer, president of Kramer Metals Inc., Los Angeles, also expressed his desire for more ISRI members to become involved with the groups functions and services, noting that the playing field is level at ISRI. The size of your company doesnt 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 its an efficient way to process these materials, he said, highlighting the need to be a low-cost producer in todays market.