Best foot forward

May 1, 2014
Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor


Former U.S. first lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not the first major political figure to appear at the podium at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) Annual Convention. She was, however, the first to make worldwide news courtesy of a shoe thrown at her in mid-speech.

Clinton ducked the shoe, thrown by a woman whose motives remain unclear, and after a few quips returned to her prepared text. Immediately before and after the shoe-throwing incident, which took place in Las Vegas in mid-April, Clinton had been in the one slice of her presentation that focused on the topic of solid waste and recycling.

Describing a Clinton Climate Initiative program in Delhi, India, Clinton referred to the project as the city’s “first integrated solid waste management system” and said it was diverting tons of plastic scrap each year from landfills and had “given a lot of people good jobs.”

Upgrading the recycling infrastructure in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries has increasingly gained the attention of not only not-for-profit groups like the Clinton Climate Initiative but also recycling companies that are identifying the opportunities.

In this issue’s cover story, Recycling Today Global Edition Group Publisher James Keefe reports on the activities of Haiti Recycling in that Caribbean nation.

The Sajous family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is emblematic of the phrase “doing well by doing good,” as they have built a strong business while also engaging in recycling programs that help provide careers and futures for people in Haiti.

My conversations with recyclers and scrap traders at recycling events around the world have frequently touched on the topic of establishing scrap materials buying and processing locations in parts of Asia, Africa and South America that are currently underserved.

Some of these recyclers hail from parts of the world where this infrastructure is needed and some are from OECD countries. Their motives are often a combination of seeking new business opportunities and wishing to do something meaningful to bring the recycling mindset to places where it has not traditionally existed.

In traditional markets such as Europe and North America the recycling industry is full of business owners and managers for whom the scrap industry has offered a lifeline to prosperity and a fulfilling career.

The recycling industry maintains the ability to create those same opportunities in parts of the world where millions still strive to attain a better life.