By the opening general session of ISRI2022 on Tuesday, March 22, in Las Vegas, attendance had topped 5,000 and continued to grow, association leaders said.
“Despite the lingering effects of COVID, and not to mention a disturbing conflict in Eastern Europe, we have delegates from more than 43 countries at ISRI2022,” says Convention Chair Stephen Moss of Stephen A. Moss Inc. “Our estimates suggest we have more first time attendees than ever before. Our average attendee is getting younger as well.”
ISRI Chair Gary Champlin delivered his State of the Association Address to the first in-person convention and exposition in three years. “We are ISRI strong!” he says. Champlin, of Champlin Tire Recycling, noted that in the interim between conventions, ISRI provided more than 500 virtual meetings to keep members informed about issues that affect their businesses.
Champlin recognized Immediate Past Chair Brian Shine of Manitoba Corp. and the establishment of the ISRI Brands Leadership Council. “That provides an opportunity for leading consumer brands to connect with recyclers across the commodities, to solve issues and identify opportunities across the recycling value chain,” Champlin says. He noted that the Commerce Department declared recycling an essential industry at the start of the pandemic, and that 11 states passed resolutions recognizing recycling as essential in 2021.
Champlin says he and Chair-Elect Brian Henesey of Rocky Mountain Recycling share the same goal of increasing recyclers’ participation in ISRI by commodity and by geographical region. “When our members come together through our chapters, regions, and divisions, and board, there is no stopping us,” he says. He encouraged recyclers to think of sustainability in terms of “people, planet, and profit.” He also praised ISRI’s career pathways program to get more students at historically Black colleges and universities and tribal colleges to start careers in recycling.
“What we do is only becoming more essential,” he says. “We are all contributing to the effort to preserve our planet’s finite natural resources, and address climate change through decarbonization. We need to find an effective way to deliver this message to policymakers at all levels of government.”
ISRI’s awards to generations spanning the recycling field began with Chaplin handing the 2022 ISRI Lifetime Achievement Award to Charles “Cricket” Williams Jr. of Davis Industries. That followed an acknowledgement of the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award winners, Sam Gershowitz of Gershow Recycling and the late Mark Reiter, who helped create ISRI’s original advocacy network.
Youth Outreach Subcommittee Chair Peter Van Houten of Bob’s Metals introduced the winners of the ISRI-JASON Learning 2021-2022 Youth Recycling Video and Poster Contest. Mark Monteleone and Joei Tarrazi, high school seniors from Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) in Highlands, N.J., created a poster urging neighbors to use recycled tires to fight coastal erosion. Ani Nishanian and Namira Meghla, fifth graders from Willow Springs Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va., produced the winning video urging people to recycle plastics.
Words Matter: Connecting with Your Audience–Sponsored by EasyScrApp
Will Howard, vice president at language strategists maslansky+partners, explained how the right words can help change behavior and drive business results. The company gave ISRI2012 insight into public perceptions of the industry using a focus group at the convention. It is working with the association to find words that help the public fully appreciate recycling’s role in society. “Changing minds is really hard, because brains are lazy,” Howard says.
Maslansky+partners’ motto is, “It’s not what you say, but what they hear.” Howard said that will be key for recyclers to remember as the partnership moves ahead. “If we want to convince [the public], we have to make it easy for them, going ahead—that’s the nature of relationships,” he says. According to the consultants’ formula, whatever language an organization adopts, it must be plainspoken, plausible, personal, and positive to succeed.