See You in Vancouver for ISRI2015

Get your passports ready because ISRI2015 will be a meeting you don’t want miss. Taking place in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, it will be the first ISRI convention to take place outside the U.S. There are already signs that it will be the largest ISRI convention ever held! Take a look at what Vancouver has to offer in the short video preview below:

Vancouver 2015


Silent Auction Helps Raise Funds for RRF

This year’s silent auction for the Recycling Research Foundation (RRF) raised more than $13,000 that will be used to help fund the organization’s scholarship program, research projects, and other related activities. The Foundation’s mission is to “promote the art and science of scrap processing and recycling through research, sponsorships, technical assistance, and educational programs for the purpose of advancing the industry.” Thank you to all those who participated this year from the donors to everyone who bid.

Remember, donations can be made to RRF all year long and are tax deductible under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please contact Tom Crane for more information.

Highlights from ISRI2014’s Final Day

Hillary ClintonThe final day of ISRI2014 may go down as one of the most exciting ever. Attendees saw Dell Inc. receive the 2014 Design for Recycling Award (video) for Latitude 10 and XPS 10 tablets, and its Latitude E7240 laptop, witness former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver a remarkable speech, and relax and enjoy live entertainment at the evening’s closing beach bash. These were memories that will never be forgotten.

The final day also included several interesting sessions. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Financial Instruments and Their Use in Exporting
Exporting is essential for many scrap companies, but how can they reduce the risks and offer the most favorable terms? The “Financial Instruments and Their Use in Exporting” session addressed that question.
Alex Johnson of Euler Hermes North America (Owings Mills, MD) named the variety of risks exporters face from the purchasing company, the foreign bank, or events in the buyer’s country. When selecting a payment method, options range from those that are most protective for the seller and most risky for the buyer, such as full payment in advance, to the opposite, an open account, which is most risky for the seller and least risky for the buyer. Too-restrictive terms could limit your sales opportunities, Johnson noted. The payment tool should depend on the circumstances of each sale. He described the pros and cons of using payment terms on the two ends of the risk spectrum and gave examples of where they might be appropriate.
Neal Weisenburger of Wells Fargo (San Francisco) described tools in the middle of the spectrum, such as letters of credit and documentary collection that mitigate some risk while giving sellers greater export competitiveness. He emphasized the importance of ensuring a letter of credit is structured properly and free of errors and that you understand and can comply with its terms and conditions. Any errors or discrepancies, even minor ones, can give the buyer an opportunity to delay or withhold payment, he said.

Working with Cash Transactions
The scrap recycling industry has traditionally been a cash business—but there’s a perception among many in the banking industry, government, and the public that if you’re dealing in cash, you’re probably doing something illegal. Today, there is increased scrutiny on cash businesses from the IRS, FBI, and banks due to financial scandals like Bernie Madoff and money laundering schemes from drug cartels and others, like terrorists—and it’s having an adverse impact on scrap recyclers, said speaker Ryan Rasske, president of RiskGap Advisors in the “Working with Cash Transactions” workshop Thursday.

Because banks are under more pressure from the federal government to ensure that their customers are conducting legal financial transactions, many are looking closely at their customers that deal mostly with cash transactions and assessing their risk factor to decide whether or not the bank wants to continue doing business with such clients.

Rasske suggests that scrap recyclers who deal mostly with cash take a proactive role in building a strong relationship with their bank so that the bank can better understand what the scrap industry is all about and that it is operating a legitimate business—before the bank asks you tough questions.

“Put yourself in a better position by saying to your banker, ‘Look, I treasure this relationship with the bank, and I will give you complete transparency into my business so that we can keep this relationship going,'” so that the bank doesn’t see your business as a risk, said Rasske.

Understanding the Recycling Trade Media
Recycling trade publications are valuable because they specialize in the recycling market and offer information that’s largely unavailable in mainstream media. “They talk your language and understand your issues; they know your business,” said Kent Kiser, publisher of ISRI’s Scrap magazine, at the April 10 workshop titled “Inside the Recycling Trade Media.” Most times, recyclers interact with recycling trade publications only when they read them or seek positive coverage from them. Occasionally, recyclers might attract negative press attention if they have an unfortunate incident such as a fire or theft issue, but they must remember that the reporter is only doing his or her job of reporting the news, not trying to ruin the recycler’s reputation or image. Such incidents point to the need for greater understanding among recyclers and the recycling trade media. In the workshop, three journalists—Brian Taylor of Recycling Today Media Group, Dylan de Thomas of Resource Recycling, and Sean Davidson of Metal Bulletin Group—answered questions to shed light on their craft. The varied questions reviewed how the reporters develop sources in the recycling business, how they respond when a recycler contacts them directly, and what actions recyclers should avoid when dealing with the media. The reporters also discussed why some recycling companies receive a lot of press coverage while others get little, if any, attention. In the workshop’s question-and-answer period, attendees asked how recyclers should respond if reporters show up at their door and whether the commercial part of their publications ever affects their editorial content.

Meet New ISRI Chair Doug Kramer

The following excerpts were taking from the article, “The Family Guy,” appearing in the March/April 2014 edition of Scrap magazine.

Doug KramerDoug Kramer proudly admits to following his father’s example in his association service as well as in his choice of career. Doug seems to have been destined to scrap. Born in East Los Angeles in 1964, Kramer grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs of Monterey Park and Whittier. His father’s work at Kramer Metals exposed Doug to recycling at an early age, and he took to it immediately. As a boy, he says, he would flatten his Matchbox cars with a hammer and load them into his toy dump truck. When he was about 6 years old, he started going to work with his dad whenever possible, sleeping in his clothes so his father would have no reason to leave him home in the morning. In those days, his paternal grandfather and uncle also worked in the family business, so he benefited from their recycling wisdom as well. “There wasn’t anything about the scrapyard I didn’t love—the way it smelled, the sounds, the sights, the people,” he says. “I understood it, and it didn’t scare me.”…

After finishing college in 1986, Kramer joined the family scrap business full time. His first assignment was soliciting industrial accounts. “I really couldn’t wait to get in and start working,” he says. At the same time, he immersed himself in ISRI, following in his father’s tradition of association service. Stanley’s leadership résumé included serving as president of the Southwestern Chapter in both ISIS and ISRI, chair of the chapter presidents committee, vice chair of the convention committee, and member of the finance, legislative, and insurance committees.” …

Kramer’s first ISRI position outside the chapter came when he served on ISRI’s state committee in the mid-1990s. After that, he filled numerous other leadership roles over the years, including chair of the chapter presidents committee, vice chair of the government affairs committee, member of the ISRI national board of directors, chair of the radiation task force, member of the audit committee, and vice chair of the operations committee. …

Doug Kramer Looking ahead to his two-year term as chair, Kramer acknowledges that some recent big-picture issues will remain top priorities, including materials theft, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed changes to the definition of solid waste, and the impending reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Growing ISRI’s membership will be another focus, he says, “because it [speaks] to the long-term sustainability of the association.” He also wants ISRI to embark on a long-term strategic planning process. “I think we need to see what we really look like and who we want to be,” he says. “ISRI is a business that requires a lot of self-examination in terms of which direction is and isn’t right.” Part of his approach, he says, will be asking “why?” until “we get down to the kernel, to that spot where there’s no longer a reason to ask ‘why?’ because we’ve found the answer, and then we know what to attack.” Kramer is well-versed in such endeavors, having served on two previous strategic planning committees for ISRI. “We need to look at where we are today, where we want to be in five years, and how we get there,” he says. “I don’t think we understand that now. We’re so busy fighting fires.”

ISRI Elects New Board Members

Congratulations to ISRI’s new national officers:

Chair: Doug Kramer, Kramer Metals, Inc.
Chair-Elect: Mark Lewon, Utah Metal Works, Inc.
Vice-Chair: Brian Shine, Manitoba Corporation
Secretary-Treasurer: Gary Champlin, Champlin Tire Recycling

Q&A with Design for Recycling Winner Dell Inc. – featuring Scott O’Connell, Director, Environmental Affairs at Dell

1. How does Dell’s corporate culture embrace ISRI’s designing for recycling principles?
We are a company that personifies entrepreneurial spirit, celebrates it every day, and embodies it in everything we do. We’re focused on winning at Dell, but winning the right way. To us, that’s embodied by a commitment to integrity and responsibility. Every day across Dell, people pair the power of technology with the power of innovation to make a positive social and environmental impact. Beyond compliance, Dell Powering the Possible is our commitment to put technology to do the most good for people and the planet.

This philosophy guides our product designers to think and design using systems concept and lifecycle approach. From design to recycling and everything in between, we look at the cradle to cradle environmental impact at each step of products’ lifecycle. This methodology aligns with ISRI’s design for recycling principles as well as other high industry design standards.

2. Why did you choose to submit Dell’s Latitude 10 and XPS tablets and the Latitude E7240 Ultrabook for ISRI’s Design for Recycling Award?
Ultrabook and Tablets are slim and lightweight, boast of longer battery life and resume from hibernation almost instantly. It is due to this reason that these products have quickly gained popularity in the consumer and business segment. Their rapid adoption also raises questions about their end-of-life characteristics. Dell accepts responsibility for continually improving the environmental design aspects of all products and their end-of-life management. Dell products are highly recyclable and Dell brought the same Design for Recycling methodology in our Tablets and Ultrabook.

Latitude 10 and Latitude E7240 were evaluated for recyclability by a 3rd party per the IEC 62635 standard and were found to be over 95% recyclable based on the current methodologies. This included evaluation of ease of disassembly (battery, LCD, circuit boards), assembly methods (modular, snap fits, less adhesives, uniform and less screws), material selection (preferable material choice for plastics and displays) and information sharing with recyclers. XPS 10 and Latitude 10 tablets were also independently evaluated by iFixIt (US) and Franhoufer Institute (Germany) and were recognized for superior design for recycling.

3. Speak to Dell’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainability?
Dell’s Environmental Policy commits us to deliver environmentally responsible products and services that prevent waste and pollution, demonstrate environmental responsibility, comply with the law and provides us tools to continually improve. In 2012 we launched this commitment as a first step toward a new sustainability strategy for Dell. Our Dell 2020 Legacy of Good Plan brings this strategy into focus and sets the trajectory for how social and environmental sustainability will become an accelerator for successful and sustainable customer and societal outcomes for years to come. Most important, our plan includes 21 ambitious, strategic goals bound by an end date of 2020. Our vision is that by 2020 the good that will come from our technology will be 10x what it takes to create and use it.

4. Why is winning ISRI’s 2014 Design for Recycling Award significant to Dell and how will you use this recognition to increase visibility of the importance of the design for recycling philosophy within the electronics industry?
The ISRI Design for Recycling Award is an honor that speaks to the highest standards for product’s environmental sustainability. It reminds product designers that their actions matter and they have a huge influence on how environmental protection and sustainability be impacted. But perhaps the most profound effect is that it encourages designers in Dell and every other company to start thinking and making choices and use their influence that could enable sound management of electronics products at their end-of-life.

We continue to champion the design for recycling philosophy in all the forums we engage and encourage our industry peers to do the same. Dell’s recognition by ISRI for the Design for Recycling Award will help us bring the issues experienced by recycling industry to the table and encourage collaboration with all stakeholders.

Catching Metals Thieves Red Handed

“Enforcement Solutions to Material Theft” described one new approach used to catch thieves in the act of material theft. 3SI Security Systems (Exton, Pa.) has been deploying a patented device originally designed for solving bank robberies, said Richard Long, senior vice president and director of global law enforcement. The compact, flexible device can be attached surreptitiously to common target materials. Terrence Cunningham, the Wellesley, Mass., police chief, explained how he used it to catch those stealing copper wire a few inches thick from a municipal light plant. Other, similar uses have tracked thefts of streetlights, cable, tractor-trailer tires, fire hydrants, construction equipment, bicycles, vehicle batteries, and propane tanks, Long said.

The device can hold a charge while dormant for two to three years, Long said. It can deploy when moved, when removed from a defined geographic area, or based on other triggers. Deployment launches 3SI’s proprietary tracking system, which the device owner can access via computer or mobile phone. The device transmits a GPS signal, a cellular signal, and a RF signal every six to 60 seconds that shows its speed, direction, path of travel, and GPS coordinates—information useful for immediate pursuit and later investigation and prosecution. The signal will continue for about seven hours after deployment, with options to extend that lifespan.

Law enforcement agencies can purchase and deploy the devices, Long said, but other community members sometimes band together to purchase the devices for them to fight a specific crime problem. Private companies also use them for internal investigations without police involvement. 3SI sells the devices individually and charges a monthly monitoring fee per device.

The Future of Electronics Recycling

Electronics recycling in the next five years will likely focus on mobile devices and their designs, which are expected to evolve to make the items more recyclable and reusable, said panelists at the “Future Trends in Recycling” workshop Wednesday.

Today, the latest wireless phones include security features that kill usability and destroy data if a phone is lost or stolen or when a user disposes of a phone to upgrade to a newer one. It’s called “bricking”—and while that might make consumers more comfortable about the personal information they store on their phones, what that means for recyclers, resellers and refurbishers is that those devices can never be used again as phones.

Recyclers are instead stacking these phones at their facilities, waiting—and hoping—that they might be able to do something with them in future, said panelist Lane Epperson of HiTech Assets.

To address this issue, companies that design and manufacture mobile devices are looking to do so in a way that strikes a balance between securing privacy and data and allowing for reuse as well. Sprint is developing mobile devices that incorporate “modularity,” which would extend the life of devices by allowing consumers to replace or upgrade segments of their phones as needed, such as displays, processors, memory, and batteries—and therefore recycling these devices in the future could focus on modules instead of complete units, said speaker Darren Beck of Sprint.

What’s not clear yet is how flexible recyclers and the scrap industry will be to adapt to such changes, said Epperson.

Another trend electronics recyclers could see in the next five years is government mandated third-party certification of electronics exports to ensure that downstream recycling meets environmental standards, said speaker Walter Alcorn of CEA.

Employee Communications Savvy

Employ, educate, and engage—those words describe “The Three Significant Circles of Management,” according to Dian Anderson of Anderson Coaching & Training and Judy Ferraro of Judy Ferraro & Associates, who led a workshop by that title on April 9. When interviewing job candidates, the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance, so probe for “behavior patterns” rather than correct answers to questions. Behavior-based interview questions to ask include: What did you do in your last job to contribute to a teamwork environment? Can you provide examples how you resolved a conflict between you and another person? Was there a time when your supervisor wasn’t satisfied with your work performance and, if so, what action did you take?

When training employees, it’s important to understand that people learn in three main ways—visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), or kinesthetic (experiencing). In addition, to ensure effective communication, remember that everything you choose to say–or not say–relays a message, Anderson said. For instance, if you don’t tell a good employee that they’re doing a great job, you’re sending a message that performance doesn’t matter, Anderson said. A person’s personality type also affects how he or she learns, with the four major types being driver (task-oriented people who get work done at all costs), socializer (people-focused individuals), relater (caretaker-type individuals who hate conflict), and analyzer (people who are thorough and deliberate). Each personality type processes information differently, Anderson said.

Common communication mistakes include assuming an employee knows certain information already, providing vague instructions or vague feedback, not following up or not following through, having no plan or focus on outcome, and hearing but not listening, Anderson said.

To ensure the best results from employee training, start with the end result you want to achieve in mind, which behavior you want to change, and what you want to change the behavior to, she concluded.

Advancements in Crumb Rubber Technology

Charles Astafan general manager of Columbus McKinnon Corp. (Amherst, N.Y.), discussed improvements in crackermill technology used to make crumb rubber with ambient material, while Bill Schreiber, Lehigh Technologies (Tucker, Ga.) provided an overview of products his firm makes using a cryogenic process during Advancements in Crumb Rubber Technology. The new machines conceptually run the same way as older models, Astafan said. The biggest change was the decoupling of the equipment’s rollers allowing for users to change its friction ratio, he said. Lehigh uses about 90 percent tire rubber that undergoes a cryogenic process to form micronized rubber powder that’s used in a number of products including tires and asphalt, he said.