January 19, 2022

Look Into the Crystal Ball at ISRI’s Economic Outlook Webinar

This week’s Industry Voices was written by Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist and director of commodities.

Recyclers benefited from the continued economic recovery in 2021 as demand for recyclables increased sharply both at home and abroad, and commodity prices registered major gains. As of Dec. 2021, U.S. producer price indexes for most of the major recycled commodities were up anywhere from 25% to 85% year-on-year according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increased domestic manufacturing output and capacity utilization rates also supported recycling markets. U.S. steel mills, for example, shipped 17.4% more steel from Jan. 2021 to Nov. 2021 than they did during the same time period in 2020, driving demand for recycled iron and steel higher. The latest trade data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows U.S. exports of all recycled commodities from Jan. 2021 to Nov. 2021 increased 10% year-on-year by quantity to 35.6 million metric tons and surged 53% higher in dollar terms to $28.8 billion.

While the recycling industry rebounded significantly from an economic standpoint in 2021, the industry continues to face many challenges. Employment is among the chief concerns, as the industry struggles to hire and retain new employees due to the extremely competitive labor market conditions in the U.S. today. The industry is also facing inflationary concerns; ongoing transportation and supply chain bottlenecks; rising interest rates and reduced economic stimulus; heightened regulatory scrutiny; and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Economic Outlook for 2022: Looking into the Crystal Ball webinar on Thursday, Jan. 20, ISRI senior economist Bret Biggers and I will cover all these issues and more. With so much uncertainty regarding the economic and commodity market outlook for 2022 that will impact company bottom lines, recyclers can’t afford to miss learning about the latest trends and most relevant 2022 forecasts from ISRI’s economists and our economic consultants at John Dunham and Associates. We hope attendees will come away with a better understanding of the likely economic and market scenarios that will drive their company’s performance in 2022. We’re also excited for a lively discussion with attendees to address the specific questions that are most pressing for ISRI members and audience participants. We hope to see you there!