In this special event series, ISRI News is in Chicago covering The Roundtables. The annual event attracts processors, brokers, traders and other recycling professionals from around the world.
Global export markets for US recyclers look a bit bleak at the moment. “Exports of recycled materials are down almost 20% when compared to last year,” said Joe Pickard, ISRI chief economist and director of commodities during the global markets and trade roundtable at The Roundtables. Paper, copper, plastic and ferrous exports were all down compared to last year. Pickard did note that it was not all doom and gloom, “aluminum was up 2.7%. India has become the largest export market for this commodity. Stainless steel was up 78% due to increased trade to Mexico, India, Taiwan and other countries.” It’s notable that trade with Mexico almost quadrupled over the past year.
What can a recycler do when the global markets are uncertain? One key is to use all the resources available. ISRI Specifications are designed to facilitate the trading and use of the entire range of recycled materials including recycled ferrous and nonferrous metals, paper, plastics, electronics, glass, tire and rubber, and residential recyclables. By providing a common language for buyers and sellers of recycled commodities around the world, the Specifications also play a key role in market development and realizing the full economic and environmental benefits generated by recycling.
Craig Boswell, co-founder and president of HOBI International, recommends building relationships, “work with people you can establish relationships with. When you get a good relationship, they tend to be sticky; it’s a great way to grow together.” Boswell also recommends leaning into ISRI, “because of ISRI, I know about policies, and I feel like I have a voice.”
Another aspect to keep in mind is to look at emerging markets. “India is now home to the largest population in the world, surpassing China,” said Josephita Harry, vice president of sales in the Non-Ferrous division at Pan American Zinc. “Only 8% own cars. As wealth continues to grow in the country demand will increase. And that’s just one sector of society.” Harry also recommends getting involved with ISRI, whether it’s at conferences to meet new trade partners or on committees like the ISRI Trade Committee.