In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we bring you a dynamic session from Waste360’s Business Leadership Forum, “The Outlook for Recycling.” It features speakers Jason Haus, CEO of Dem Con Companies; Alan Handley, Chief Executive Officer of Lakeshore Recycling Services; and Will Herzog, Western Regional Sales Manager of Machinex Technology–in conversation with moderator John Shegerian, Executive Chairman, Electronic Recyclers.
Here’s a sneak peek into the presentation:
Shegerian started off by asking Herzog to comment on the key considerations waste collectors should think through when trying to determine if they should build their own MRF and internalize recycling operations. “For me, it all starts with volume,” Herzog noted; “knowing the volume and what it’s going to take to secure that volume.” Handley added that collectors should “look at the market you’re in, and the infrastructure in place that you’re going to be competing with…and make sure you understand that the market isn’t [always] going to be like it is today.” Haus added that, “Just because the market’s good doesn’t mean you should get into it; you have to have a long-term approach.”
Shegerian then asked Haus to comment on labor challenges and whether robotics and AI are something that will and should continue to be part of MRFs across the country. Haus noted that he is “bullish on all the types of automated equipment [but] it’s also not the end solution for your entire MRF.” Herzog went on to talk about how it is currently a busy time on the equipment side of the business, “which is good—but also painful at times because we can’t always fulfill requests.”
On the overall outlook for recycling, Handley noted that, “Wishfully, recycling is here to stay. [But] I see what people put in their recycling, and it’s wishful at best and negligent at worst. Until you make this more of a…starting with the producer and driving it that way, that’s how you’re going to get real recycling. Start with the packaging and make it real simple for the consumer. And, I hate to say, but I think you have much stronger some type of government overlay or an incentive to make it really work.”
Sherigan asked the panelists about the challenges related to Lithium-ion batteries and best practices might help to prevent fires in facilities. Haus sees a need to “tell manufacturers they can’t make them anymore. The problem is there are millions of [the batteries] out in the market right now, so we’re going to have to deal with them, but I just don’t understand for a product that creates that much risk how we can continue to manufacture them.” And, “the manufacturers refuse to remove the recycle symbol on a battery, and that’s the problem. It’s incredibly difficult to educate communities of millions when we could get the manufacturers to do better.”
Listen to the full episode above.