Previewing the 2021 ISRI Commodity Roundtables Forum with ISRI’s Joe Pickard

This week’s Industry Voices is a Q&A with Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist and director of commodities, previewing ISRI’s Commodity Roundtables Forum. ISRI’s Commodity Roundtables Forum will take place Sept. 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. The annual event attracts processors, brokers, traders, and other recycling professionals from around the world. Register here. 

What does the planning process look like for you for the Commodity Roundtables Forum? 

The roundtables are one of ISRI’s biggest events of the year, especially this year as we gather again in person. Planning for the roundtables includes working with staff and ISRI division leaders to organize panels of experts including industry veterans, commodity and economic analysts, and other specialists who can provide the latest information about the key market trends and economic developments that will be of the most interest for attendees. We’re excited about the outstanding group of panelists we’ve assembled this year across the ferrous, nickel/stainless, copper, aluminum, and electronics sectors.

In your estimation, how much has COVID-19 affected some of the topics that could potentially be covered during the year’s forum?

The impacts of COVID-19 have been widespread, ranging from supply chain disruptions to labor shortages and pent-up demand for commodities. Those impacts continue to be felt today, so COVID-19 will be a recurring topic across the roundtables discussions.

What’s one topic from each session you’re looking forward to hearing discussion on?

For ferrous, I’m looking forward to hearing more about steel capacity expansion plans in the U.S., and how they will impact domestic scrap demand. For the nickel/stainless panel, I’m looking forward to hearing more about how nickel price volatility is impacting stainless steel scrap supply and demand. For the copper and aluminum roundtables, I’m looking forward to hearing where the commodity analysts (Edward Meir and Jason Schenker) see prices heading in the future. For the electronics roundtable, I’m looking forward to hearing about when the semiconductor shortage might start to be resolved. And for the general session on financial risks, I’m looking forward to hearing about how recyclers can mitigate commodity and financial market risks.

What do you hope people take away from this year’s Commodity Roundtables Forum?

Ideally, we hope people will gain new insights not just on what the main drivers are for commodity and recycling markets, but how to adapt to these constantly changing times in order to help their businesses thrive going forward.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s forum?

I’m especially looking forward to this year’s in-person forum for the opportunities to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in quite a while due to the pandemic. I’m also looking forward to meeting new attendees and introducing them to ISRI.