Episode 127: Waste & Recycling Is Good Business

Liz Bothwell, Head of Content & Marketing

October 25, 2021

In this week’s NothingWasted! episode, we chat with Joe Ursuy, SVP & department manager - Environmental Services, at Comerica Bank. We spoke with Ursuy about the commodities market, the current appetite for M&A, the outlook for waste and recycling and more.

Comerica’s Environmental Services department helps to support the diverse and complex needs of clients across the U.S. and Canada who collect, transport, treat, recycle, process and dispose of all kinds of waste.

Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Can you dig into the economic forecast you guys discussed at the Waste360 Business Leadership Forum this year—specifically “reflation”?

Ursuy: Yes, “reflation” is our Chief Economist’s term for, basically, all the demand surge you see coming on right now. A lot of things we’re talking about with our clients every day is what we talked about in June at WasteExpo — learning how to operate in an inflationary environment. You see with labor, with disposal in certain markets, with transportation, certain types of insurance. So that was a big topic of discussion.

Waste360: The recycling market is hot right now; do you think it can sustain itself?

Ursuy: There is certainly a lot of demand right now. The one thing we know about commodities is that they go up, and they go down. They’ve been on a tear here for the past year-plus, so we’re trying to make sure we understand our clients’ exposure to commodities — and that they’re protected on the downside.

Waste360: Are there any changes you’re seeing in the industry that you think will stick around after Covid, good or bad?

Ursuy: I think certainly in the short term, the effects of the pandemic are causing our clients to operate in an inflationary environment, and the only way to combat that is to really drive price. That’s happening and will continue to happen. Also, the availability of trucks…we’re seeing a huge uptick in curbside waste and commodities from a permanent shift in more e-commerce purchasing. That will continue. …I think the story is about halfway written on the impacts of Covid on the industry.

Waste360: We recently did a poll to see what was most concerning for the industry these days. The top concern was labor shortages, by a wide margin — followed by supply chain issues and then climate change. What do you think of that?

Ursuy: I think that’s correct. It seems like we’re seeing more unique weather events, whether it’s the ice storm and freeze in Texas, to the fires on the West Coast. Labor is a big thing, and wages are going up. I would agree with all of those concerns.

Waste360: Are you seeing a lot of your clients, and the industry in general, being more prepared with succession planning?

Ursuy: A lot of the entrepreneurs who sold their businesses in the past few years are really good advisors, and we help with that as well. And there’s a younger generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in the industry, and we think that’s fantastic. We’re focused on that and want to see that younger generation of talent and drive. All industries go through succession, and this one is no different. But we’re encouraged [by what we’re seeing].

Read the transcript here.


About the Author(s)

Liz Bothwell

Head of Content & Marketing, Waste360

Liz Bothwell is head of content and marketing for Waste360, proud host of the NothingWasted! Podcast, and ghostwrites for others to keep her skills sharp and creative juices flowing. She loves family, football, her French bulldogs, and telling stories that can help to make the world a more sustainable place.

Follow her on Linkedin or Twitter

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