Publisher's Letter: How Times Have Changed

Departments - Editor's Column

January 7, 2013
Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe


It’s hard to believe that in 2013 Recycling Today celebrates 50 years of service to the scrap and recycling industry. During those 50 years, the industry has changed tremendously. Some might say the people active in the industry during 1963 would not recognize the business of today.

Founded in February of 1963 and titled Secondary Raw Materials, our editorial and circulation coverage focused on serving dealers, processors, brokers and consumers of secondary ferrous and nonferrous material, paper and textiles. In 1974 we adopted the title Recycling Today, reflecting the emerging wave of environmental consciousness in the U.S.

In those early years, the business was much more local than the international marketplace of today, and much of the processing was done by hand.

Material sourcing has evolved tremendously, with the original roots of the business focused primarily on sourcing industrial and obsolete scrap. Of course, that remains true today; however, the recovery of postconsumer recyclables has grown dramatically.

In 1988 Recycling Today expanded its industry coverage and circulation reach to include the then rapidly developing postconsumer recycling sector.

Producing and marketing recyclables has grown into a multinational business generating billions of dollars in revenue and employing tens of thousands of people.

In addition to globalization, the rise of technology has revolutionized the industry. Automobile shredders have been said to have had the most dramatic impact, but shredders of all types, with accompanying separation technology, have given rise to significant change. Today’s material recovery facilities (MRFs) are so advanced they can require hundreds of motors and highly advanced automation management systems to operate. And, of course, software now allows recyclers to run physical and trading operations with greater efficiency and accountability than ever. Technology continues to have a tremendous impact. Ironically, it’s also creating a new materials stream with end-of-life electronics, one of the fastest growing sectors of today’s industry.

Recycling Today has a distinguished history serving all segments of the recycling industry. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we’ll commemorate that coverage through a new department, From the Archives, which we launch officially next month.

We’re also producing a special 50th anniversary issue this summer that will provide an in-depth look at the evolution of the recycling industry. If you have a story or anecdote to share about that progression, please contact me or one of our editors.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!