The Allan Co., the subject of this issue’s cover story, “Positive Spin,” beginning on page 50, joins Recycling Today in celebrating its golden anniversary in 2013, having been founded by Stephen A. Young in 1963.
The Baldwin Park, Calif., company started off as a paper stock packer and expanded its services in response to market opportunities. But the company also found a way to make the most of a bad situation.
At the time of Mexico’s financial collapse in the 1990s, a number of Mexican paper stock consumers owed Allan Co. money for their orders. Rather than take a loss, Allan Co. accepted payment from these clients in the form of rolls of finished paper. Allan Co. then sold the rolls throughout the western United States and Mexico, marking the beginning of a new division within the company. Allan Co.s’ finished paper division today carries inventory for all of the big producers and typically has 7,000 to 8,000 tons of material in standard sizes and basis weights in inventory at all times.
Clearly, this type of adaptive thinking has contributed to Allan Co.’s success over the last 50 years, as has being able to identify emerging trends and opportunities and respond to them.
Allan Co.’s response to the situation with its customers in Mexico got me thinking of adaptive leadership and the personality traits that are inherent to this type of leadership. These traits go well beyond the basic leadership skills, such as the ability to strategize, an aptitude for communication and decision-making and a focus on producing results.
Adaptive leadership skills, according to Travis Bradberry, a Forbes contributor and co-author of Leadership 2.0, include emotional intelligence, or how an individual uses knowledge of his or her own emotions as well as those of other individuals to build relationships, and a sense of organizational justice, or integrating what people think to make them feel respected and valued. Adaptive leaders, Bradberry says, also have transparent and honest characters and understand that they always have something more to learn as well as the responsibility to aid in the development of individuals whom they lead.
Adaptive leadership’s focus on transparency and honesty reminds me of another Allan Co. value—dedication to being true to its word when dealing with customers as well as with its staff.
Regardless of how the recycling industry has changed in the last 50 years and how it will continue to change in the next 50 years, some things always ring true. Respect and honesty will always remain important components of lasting business relationships. It seems only fitting that a company that is celebrating its golden anniversary should honor this Golden Rule of business.
There are many different types of recycling programs, from those run by municipalities and private organizations to programs managed by product stewardship organizations. Regardless of how a recycling program is managed, who administers or funds it or where collections take place, success depends not solely on recycling or stewardship but also on balancing the needs of many stakeholders.
As with any venture, a recycling initiative must first identify and understand its priority audiences and clarify to whom it is accountable before constructing an appropriate business model. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs—in which manufacturers fund the proper end-of-life disposal of their products—focus on balancing the complex wants and needs of a trinity of distinctly different stakeholders: governments (or policymakers) and nongovernment organizations (NGOs); stewards, or those financing such programs; and retailers and consumers who generate the material for the program.
Imagine each stakeholder group—with different priorities, somewhat opposing constraints and separate definitions of success—positioned as part of a traditional Venn diagram; three circles, each weighted the same, each overlapping equally. (See page 106.) This is the ideal “Power of Three” stakeholder model. Achieving balance between the three stakeholders and managing the sometimes disparate needs of each audience is a powerful source for environmental change. For EPR programs, the more defined the common ground the greater their influence, credibility and impact will be with their stakeholders:
1. Policymakers and NGOs want the industry to lead in every aspect of a recycling program. They want the industry to service all related aspects of the program, to be accessible to even those most remote public areas and to collect every possible recyclable within an industry’s product category. Cost matters little. Most would measure success by the volume (or weight) of material collected for recycling along with managing any public complaints that might arise.
2. Industry stewards, or those funding an EPR program, want a stewardship or recycling management organization to fulfill mandated obligations, prevent lawsuits, avoid bad publicity and maintain low costs. Stewards would define a successful program as one that is cost-effective and minimizes their risk with the government entity overseeing the program.
3. Retailers and consumers, as key players in the collection of materials, share a desire for convenience, low or no cost and as little intrusion into their behaviors as possible. Retailers that serve as collection sites may have similar expectations for the managing organization as they do with their other service providers: They want great customer service, with the organization meeting their needs, despite that the take-back program is free for them.
No EPR program can fully satisfy all of the needs of all stakeholders. The key is to balance the sometimes conflicting and overlapping issues and to recognize that those needs are ever changing.
For example, envision a state with a government-mandated recycling law, such as for batteries. To comply with the law, several stores agree to serve as collection sites for accepting batteries for recycling from their customers.
In urban and suburban areas of the state, those stores may be convenient for consumers. Their battery collection boxes might be filled regularly, with consumers recycling a significant percentage of their batteries. This would result in a reasonably cost-efficient process: A set cost is determined to collect, process and transport a box with more than 40 pounds of batteries. All of the stakeholders likely would be satisfied and agree that the program is successful.
In more rural areas of that jurisdiction, however, the process and results might be very different. With fewer drop-off points, the percentage or volume of batteries collected likely will be much lower, with much higher costs. When a location collects only two batteries in a week, and the cost to collect, process and transport those batteries is more than you might see in other areas, would any stakeholders judge the program to be successful? The stewards focused on minimizing costs would be unhappy. Would it be more responsible for the stewardship organization to spend those funds on other recycling efforts, such as educational programs for consumers?
Complicating the issue is that most stewardship organizations were born from and remain an extension of industry trade associations. Since industry pays the bills, programs look at the trade association as the primary or even sole customer. Many EPR programs feel most accountable to participating companies that seek to minimize cost.
Some recyclables, such as paper, glass and plastic, are relatively easy to divert from the waste stream. Other, more complex products, including paint, motor oil and batteries, do not lend themselves to simple recycling programs. Materials like these require coordination from all stakeholders to properly and safely collect, sort, transport and process.
EPR programs that earn a reputation for equitably representing and meeting the needs of the trinity establish a unique foundation from which they can serve all without favoring any one. This allows them to navigate compromises and trade-offs and help ensure that mandated policies make sense for all parties. Greater balance in the trinity also earns high levels of credibility. EPR programs can then influence more expansive projects, such as development of legislation and education, and help secure funding.
Legislation is a decisive example of balancing stakeholders’ wants and needs. State and local governments may want to achieve the most collections but often don’t have the budgets to pay for them and support laws to minimize their costs. These laws may place an unnecessary burden on retailers to consistently and effectively recycle products in all stores statewide, let alone nationwide, and make it easy for consumers. A thoughtful approach to legislation that intentionally includes all stakeholders as part of the process offers the best chances for success.
With balanced legislation and the trinity in harmony, education becomes a priority. From consumer awareness campaigns to institutional and trade-related best practices, EPR programs can lead stakeholders to work together to advance environmentally responsible practices and move people to action.
Funding is an issue for every environmental program, from glass recycling to water conservation. EPR programs are no different. In an ideal world, the best and most successful EPR program would involve all manufacturers of a given material. Respected, credible EPR programs may see greater success in participation with producers funding the proper disposal of the products they put into the marketplace. Since it would be impractical to restrict recycling to materials from certain manufacturers, each would share equally in the responsibility. This level of participation is difficult, if not impossible to achieve. However, this ideal should guide every aspect of a program.
The Power of Three model leverages balance to achieve success. But what happens in the absence of this balance? Common consequences are patchwork regulation, environmental repercussions and alienating essential relationships.
Patchwork regulation—the result of EPR programs initiated, designed and mandated by state and municipal governments or NGOs—presents a unique challenge to recycling. What can be recycled, what must be recycled and how it should be handled can vary by state. Retailers are hit the hardest: Those in neighboring states may have to meet very different regulations, while national retailers may need to comply with several different state laws. When different jurisdictions mandate different regulations, compliance is confusing at best and sometimes almost inconceivable.
As a result, retailers are often of two minds: If only one or two states have laws about recycling a specific product, the retailer likely favors regulation at the state level. But when more than two states have EPR requirements, retailers prefer federal regulation, which can ensure uniform statutes across state lines. Uniformity offers ease in compliance, which, to date, hasn’t occurred.
Without balance in the trinity, there are environmental repercussions—some level of chaos and missed opportunities to positively affect change, which is the ultimate goal in any recycling effort. Across North America, there are examples of stewardship organizations that couldn’t garner industry support or couldn’t satisfy the aspirations of legislators. In the end, this hurts the environmental benefits of why the programs were set up.
EPR programs that do not balance the needs of the stakeholders risk alienating relationships with those that can be integral to their success. Successfully managing disparate interests is an aspiration; it is too easy to overemphasize an obligation to one and inadvertently forsake the others. Collecting three times the amount of material than was initially planned could financially jeopardize the health of a stewardship organization and harm the industry participants, even though public organizations may be thrilled.
By balancing the needs of the trinity and equitably addressing fundamental requirements, EPR programs can succeed with real, measurable results. Importantly, successful and effective recycling programs have the potential to lead by example. As organizations, they can emerge as a recognized and respected voice on broader issues related to product stewardship and end-of-life product disposal. Even better, they earn the ability to influence initiatives that minimize health, safety and environmental risks while maximizing benefits.
Carl Smith is CEO and president of Atlanta-based Call2Recycle, North America’s first and largest consumer battery stewardship and recycling program. Smith leads the organization in its efforts to help preserve the environment through the responsible recycling of batteries. With more than 322 million wireless devices (phones, tablets and e-readers) in use in the U.S. alone—all powered by rechargeable batteries—recycling the battery and the device are more important than ever before, according to Call2Recycle.
Since 2012, Renewable Energy from Waste (REW) magazine has brought its readers the latest developments in the waste conversion industry through its magazine and e-newsletters.
This November, the publisher of REW, the Recycling Today Media Group, is taking its coverage of this developing industry one step further by launching a conference dedicated to waste conversion technologies.
The Renewable Energy from Waste Conference will take place Nov. 18-20 at the West Palm Beach Marriott in West Palm Beach, Fla. Other conferences have covered this industry before, but the REW Conference differentiates itself in many ways. Recycling Today Media Group Publisher James R. Keefe says, “Capturing the resource potential of waste streams is the fastest growing sector of the waste and recycling industry. This is the reason we introduced Renewable Energy from Waste magazine in 2012. It’s also the reason we’re taking the follow-up action in 2013 of introducing this event. We’ll be considering the full breadth of possibilities from energy to the production of building-block chemicals.”
For a video preview of the Renewable Energy from Waste Conference, visit www.RecyclingToday.com/rew-conference-2013-video-preview.aspx.
Through REW’s sister publication, Recycling Today, the Recycling Today Media Group, based in Richfield, Ohio, has been covering the recycling industry for half a century. Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB), Fairfax, Va., has been a longtime ally of the magazine publishing group. The consulting firm has helped the public and private sectors develop solutions to their waste management problems for decades. The Recycling Today Media Group and GBB have joined forces on this conference to plan and deliver programming based on their expertise of what is driving the waste-to-energy and waste-to-fuels industry.
“Through Recycling Today magazine we’ve been examining the markets that create value from industrial and consumer discards for 50 years,” says Keefe. “When we introduced the Renewable Energy from Waste brand, we partnered with GBB, one of the industry’s most respected consultancies and a group that’s been covering this evolution since the early ’70s. This partnership ensures a depth and breadth of coverage and insight you won’t find anywhere else.”
Harvey Gershman, GBB president, says the decision to partner on the conference came naturally. “We thought it would be a good idea to have a conference to bring the magazine to life.”
He adds, “We are going to get the people from the industry who are doing the projects out there to get together and share their experiences and knowledge so that the market can go forward together better.”
Smithers-Apex, a global conference organizer, rounds out the partnership of companies producing the conference.
“The industry needs one place where economic, municipal and corporate experts come together to share their successes and struggles with candor and impartiality,” says Andrew Smaha, conference director for Smithers-Apex. “This event provides one-stop shopping to gain critical insights into the technologies and regulations shaping the industry and to build relationships with the individuals who drive market perceptions and decisions that affect your company.”
The REW Conference program includes several sessions that provide an in-depth look at waste conversion technologies, including refuse-derived fuel (RDF), anaerobic digestion (AD), plastics to oil and gasification. The conference also will have panel discussions on project financing, regulations and end user applications.
“The attendees will have a chance to hear directly from project developers and technology providers on what they are doing out there and the status of their offerings,” Gershman says.
“Renewable Energy from Waste 2013 attendees will have the opportunity to discuss formulas to help assess the feasibility of most waste conversation technologies, including startup costs, determining processing/tip fees [and] competition from traditional fuels and financing options,” Smaha adds.
During the opening keynote session Nov. 18, Keefe and Gershman discuss “The Status of Renewable Waste in North America.” Attendees can hear firsthand which companies, projects and technologies are converting waste into energy in North America and how they are progressing.
The keynote session on day two is sure to be a lively discussion. The session, “Pitfalls and Lessons Learned,” looks at why some projects are successful and others are not. Moderated by Mark Riedy, a member of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC, the session includes panelist Mark Hammond of the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Fla. For a complete schedule of sessions, refer to page 114.
It’s not often that the opportunity comes up to visit operational facilities employing waste conversion technologies. The REW Conference has set up exclusive tours of two facilities that are doing just that.
The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County Integrated Waste Management Complex contains a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) waste-to-energy (WTE) facility that processes some 850,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year. It also is currently undergoing an expansion allowing it to increase capacity from the current 2,500 tons per day to more than 5,500 tons per day by 2015.
The Ineos Indian River County BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Fla., uses a combination of gasification and fermentation technology to turn different types of waste materials—including municipal solid waste—into advanced biofuels and renewable power.
Both tours are available for an extra fee. The Ineos Indian River County BioEnergy Center tour is open to public-sector attendees only.
Approximately 25 technology and equipment companies have tabletop exhibits at the event. Attendees have several opportunities throughout the three-day event to interact with exhibitors. Breakfast, lunch, networking breaks and receptions Nov. 18 and 19 allow attendees to network with each other and with exhibitors.
These exhibitors can help determine the best type and size of equipment needed to process a particular feedstock for use in a specific waste conversion technology.
Exhibiting companies include Apollo Equipment, California Pellet Mill, CP Group, General Kinematics, Lindner America LLC, Machinex, Process Baron, Scott Equipment Co., SSI Shredding Systems, Van Dyk Recycling Solutions and Walker Magnetics.
More information on these companies can be found at www.rewconference.com/sponsorship-exhibit.aspx.
Another key distinction of the REW Conference is the cost to attend. As Keefe explains, “We’ve structured our registration packages to be affordable so companies and organizations can send multiple delegates, allowing them to capture greater insights to guide decision making and projects.”
An early bird rate of $549 can be locked in until Oct. 18. After that, the regular rate is $699. A special academic and government rate is offered at $349. The tours are an additional $99.
“Our upcoming event provides a dynamic collection of sessions that will explore technologies, look at the economics of the sector, analyze what’s really working and what’s not,” Keefe says. “It will provide exceptional networking and informal meeting opportunities to allow delegates to gain further insights into this rapidly developing field.”
More information about the conference can be found at www.REW conference.com.
The author is managing editor of Renewable Energy from Waste magazine, a Recycling Today Media Group publication, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ferrous scrap recyclers continue to experience 2013 as a series of signs of hope that flare momentarily and then
Many scrap recyclers reported an uptick in volumes in July and August. Seasonal factors combined with economic indicators pointed to two reasons why lackluster sectors, such as construction and demolition, might have had a little more activity.
While the increased volume was appreciated, it occurred at roughly the same time as a drying up of ferrous scrap export orders followed by concerns that the economic recovery remains slow and is subject to hitting the brakes when bad news is in the air.
A scrap recycler in the Southeast notes the absence of export orders as well as messages he is receiving from domestic steel mill buyers that their companies have seen the peak demand for finished steel in 2013. “In terms of volume, mill buyers had a level program in September,” the recycler says, “but there is some concern that order books for the fourth quarter won’t be as good as they were for the second and third quarters.”
Export orders have been so few and far between that American Metal Market (AMM) did not update its East and West Coast export pricing indices between Aug. 26 and Sept. 12, 2013. Normally the indices are updated weekly.
Domestic demand helped prevent ferrous scrap prices from falling too far on AMM’s monthly indices, with No. 1 busheling down by nearly $10 per
Prices tracked by the Raw Material Data Aggregation Service (RMDAS) of Pittsburgh-based Management Science Associates (MSA) have shown a similar pattern, with its national average for No. 2 shredded scrap having fallen to $375 per ton in August.
That figure is down from its 2013 peak of $411 per ton in March. The price has bounced back and forth in that range throughout the past 12 months, with the market neither able to gain momentum nor willing to plunge into a trough.
Domestic steel production has likewise bumped along in a narrow range of output and capacity utilization throughout 2013. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Washington, D.C., in the week ending Sept. 7, 2013, raw steel production in the U.S. was 1.87 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 78.1 percent.
That figure is up slightly (0.9 percent) from the 1.85 million tons produced the week before and is up 6.9 percent from the 1.75 million tons produced in the week ending Sept. 7, 2012.
But for each encouraging week of production gains tracked by AISI this year, there has tended to be an opposite and roughly equal week of output loss. Overall figures indicate 2013 will not be a growth year for steel producers in the U.S.
“Adjusted year-to-date production through Sept. 7, 2013, was 66,581,000 net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 77.2 percent,” says AISI. “That is a 4 percent decrease from the 69,390,000 net tons during the same period [in 2012].”
Figures gathered by the World Steel Association (WorldSteel), Brussels, indicate that the U.S. situation is typical of the rest of the world, though Chinese steelmakers continue to increase output.
July 2013 statistics gathered by WorldSteel indicate that the European Union (EU) is joining the U.S. in moving backward in steel production, with the 27 EU nations producing 5.3 percent less steel in the first seven months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.
Joining the rest in the mild steel slump is Turkey, the largest single destination for ferrous scrap exported from the U.S. In the first seven months of 2013, Turkish steelmakers have produced 20.2 million tons of steel, down 4 percent from the 21.1 million tons they produced in the first seven months of 2012.
The trend in Turkey is not encouraging based on July figures. The 2.8 million tons produced by Turkish steel mills was down 10 percent compared with the 3.1 million tons of output in July 2012.
The drop does not seem directly tied to the construction sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, where construction spending has continued unabated in 2013. An estimated $1.5 billion in construction is taking place in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone, according to a report in Arab News, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Dubai-based building products company
Several thousand miles away, scrap recyclers in the U.S. hope those projects make it off the drawing board and soon result in increased activity at Turkish steel mills.
The American Metal Market (AMM) Midwest Ferrous Scrap Index is calculated based on transaction data received that are then tonnage-weighted and normalized to produce a final index value. The AMM Scrap Index includes material that will be delivered within 30 days to the mill. Spot business included after the 10th of the month will not be included. The detailed methodology is available at www.amm.com/pricing/methodology.html. The AMM Ferrous Scrap Export Indices are calculated based on transaction data received that are then tonnage-weighted and normalized to produce a final index value. The detailed methodology is available at www.amm.com/pricing/methodology.html.
Secondary plastics markets seem to have received the memo that summer officially has come to an end, and activity has picked up somewhat as a result.
According to a reprocessor of postindustrial material, generation is steady to increasing as of mid-September. The reprocessor, based in the East, adds, “Plant shutdowns in July and early August made supply slightly inconsistent.”
Domestic demand also has picked up, leaving the lazier pace of the summer behind. “Domestic demand is coming out of the summer doldrums, with slight improvement recognized in September,” a material recovery facility (MRF) operator based in the Midwest adds.
The reprocessor describes demand as “strong,” particularly from the building/construction, lawn and garden and dunnage sectors. He adds that pricing for secondary plastics is “stable to rising.”
A reprocessor based in the Southeast adds that demand from the automotive sector is strong in her region.
Polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE) and rigid PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are all experiencing strong demand currently, the reprocessor based in the East says, adding that it’s more than a seasonal increase. “It feels like spring of 2004, which was very strong and continued through 2007,” he says.
The reprocessor based in the Southeast also says that pricing and demand for PP are increasing, though she is unsure at the time what to attribute the increases to.
“Low-end ‘export’ grades are still being hurt by [Operation] Green Fence and the India situation,” the reprocessor based in the East adds, referring to China’s initiative to crack down on existing regulations regarding waste imports and to the devaluation of the Indian rupee.
He adds that low-end grades and combination loads are still difficult to ship successfully into China. “Full containers of clean, graded material are flowing well with solid pricing,” he says.
Regarding India, the East-based reprocessor says high grades are moving at reduced pricing, while sales of low grades have come to a halt.
The MRF operator also notes an improvement in export markets, particularly in regard to China. “Export markets are improving, with several grades affected by China’s Green Fence starting to move, including woven PP Super Sacks, mixed rigid containers, mixed engineering grades and low-quality film grades.”
The MRF operator says mixed loads of plastics Nos. 3 through 7 remain difficult to move on the export market, adding that China, Vietnam and Indonesia are popular destinations for his firm.
“There is still robust supply available, which is likely to keep pricing suppressed until next year,” the MRF operator adds.
Transportation is not currently an issue, according to sources, with the MRF operator saying, “Rail and export containers are readily available.”
The Southeast-based reprocessor adds, “The end of produce season has helped decrease our overall expenses in the area of transportation.”
However, the reprocessor in the East says freight costs have increased 3.9 percent this year for his company.