“One of the truths of the recycling industry is that recyclers are constantly innovating,” says Robin Wiener, president of the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). And yet, she says, one of the biggest challenges facing recyclers in the United States — and around the world — is a fundamental lack of understanding.
“We have made progress over the past two years as recycling has been federally recognized as ‘essential’, allowing recyclers to continue operating during the early stages of the pandemic,” observes Wiener. “However, this has not translated, as we had hoped, into a better understanding of recycling itself or the industry. As a result, the sector continues to see “misguided” legislation and regulations at the state and federal levels in the United States, as well as internationally through the Basel Convention and other intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
“It is for this reason that I always look forward to attending the annual ISRI convention so that I can walk around the show and see the latest in technology, processes and equipment for the industry. “, notes Wiener optimistically. ISRI Agreement features the largest exhibit space of any recycling event during the year, with over 250 exhibitors on nearly 350,000 square feet2 from space. ‘I hope your readers will join me for ISRI2022, which will be held on March 21st until 24and in Las Vegas so they can see for themselves what the next generation of recycling technologies and solutions looks like! »
Thinking back to her early days at ISRI, her role in the recycling industry was the result of what she calls “sheer luck.” Wiener recalls, “I had just started law school in the evening and was looking for a day job that would utilize my expertise in environmental policy and my background in engineering. ISRI was looking for a Compliance Coordinator and it turned out to be a good match.’
She adds: ‘I had every intention of leaving four years later when I graduated from law school, but found I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I literally couldn’t sign the papers given to me by the law firm that offered me a job. Recycling was “in my blood”, as they say, and I have never looked back.
When asked which women in the industry she looks up to, Wiener has quite the list. An important name for her is Karen Strelitz. “Karen is the co-founder and owner of California Metal-X, a Los Angeles-based copper and bronze ingot manufacturer. He’s someone I feel very lucky to have gotten to know over the years and leaned on from time to time,” says Wiener. She praises her for raising three beautiful daughters while building a successful business “from scratch” at a time when women were rare in the industry.
Elisabeth Christ, who heads the communications department of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), is another household name and “strong woman” in scrap. And Wiener adds, “There are also many smart, dynamic young women rising through the management ranks in the industry today, each of whom I look up to and enjoy getting to know, including including Brandi Harleaux (CEO, South Post Oak Recycling Center) and Nidhi Turakhia (Executive Vice President, Allied Alloys). They are our future, which, if they are any indication, looks very bright!
Wiener says she has celebrated many highlights over the past year. With his team, ISRI completed an award-winning digital transformation, successfully achieved demurrage billing relief for railroad members, and laid the foundation for an internship and apprenticeship program targeting college students. and historically black universities, tribal colleges and trade schools to expand the pipeline for workers in the recycling industry.
“I truly believe that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to work with a team of professionals who work hard every day,” says Wiener. “And they have done so throughout the year, ensuring that our members – and our industry – are protected and have the tools and resources to survive one of the toughest times we have ever seen. have ever known.”
She points out, “I couldn’t be more proud of my team and what they’ve accomplished over the past two years, working in transformed bedrooms, home offices, kitchens and closets, while balancing uncertainty, anxiety, children, pets, partners, spouses, and sometimes COVID itself. And I want you to know that you motivate us all by your support, your sharing, your openness to news ideas and your dedication to doing the right thing.
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