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The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) returns to Vegas and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in April for the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition. Chuck Carr, vice president of member services for ISRI, says the association’s members clearly love the destination, consistently voting Mandalay Bay their favorite venue in surveys.

ISRI has introduced a number of changes at this year’s convention that it says will benefit its members by providing additional value and time to network with colleagues and exhibitors, Carr says.

What hasn’t changed is the association’s emphasis on programming. “We’re really proud of how we’ve tried to build programming with a good return on investment (ROI) that can be demonstrated,” he says.

That aspect is even more critical currently with many scrap processors’ margins being compressed.

WHAT’S NEW

Among the changes attendees will notice at the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition, which is scheduled for April 2-7, is exclusive exhibit hall hours.

“We hear from members that as the show has grown, it is increasingly difficult for those looking for new equipment because they don’t have time to see all the vendors,” Carr says.

In response to this feedback, ISRI has scheduled two hours the morning of Tuesday, April 6, without competing programming. During this time, attendees can browse exhibits and enjoy a continental breakfast in the exhibit hall.

The ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition also features expanded plastics programming in the form of the Plastics Business & Operations Summit, which is schedule for Monday, April 4, through Wednesday, April 6.

Carr says, “ISRI members have dealt with plastics for years, but plastics have never had the same level of attention within ISRI as metals or paper.”

He says the association has taken steps to address this by building its plastics operations, including elevating the Plastics Recycling Council to a division with voting representation on the ISRI board of directors. The Plastics Business & Operations Summit, which ISRI calls “the most comprehensive plastics education and training event,” builds upon these earlier efforts.

Carr describes plastics as “the commodity for the future,” adding, “If we can help our members learn how to make money off of this important product, the better off we all are.”

According to ISRI, for those considering expanding into plastics recycling, the Plastics Business & Operations Summit “will demonstrate how this ever-expanding commodity can enhance your revenue stream and help you stay competitive with others in the recycling industry.”

Seasoned plastics recyclers also will find the summit beneficial, ISRI says, adding that it “will provide in-depth market reports, teach you how to source and add additional materials to your supply and help you improve your current collection techniques.”

Another change ISRI is introducing at this year’s convention is the availability of a social badge at the discounted rate of $495 ($525 if purchased on-site) compared with the full registration rate, which ranges from $775 to $1,000 for members and $1,300 to $1,525 for nonmembers, depending on the time of purchase. Fully registered attendees can purchase this badge for a spouse or guest to gain admission to the Opening Night Gala, the Closing Night Gala, the Consumers’ Night Reception and the “Just for Fun” programming, Carr says. However, the social badge does not allow entry into the exhibit hall apart from specified events or into any other general sessions or workshops.

Long-tome attendees of the event also will notice that ISRI has modified its Consumers’ Night Reception in 2016. Instead of taking place after the exhibit hall closes on the second full night of the conference, the reception has been scheduled for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in the exhibit hall. Craft beers will be featured in the seven hospitality areas named after the commodities ISRI members handle, making it easier to connect with attendees who process and consume those materials.

ISRI also has changed the hours of its Opening Gala Reception this year. Instead of its usual 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. time slot, the reception will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 4, Carr says, giving attendees the opportunity to schedule dinners afterward.

Despite these changes, Carr says attendees can continue to expect “pertinent, up-to-the-minute programming” designed to help attendees manage the difficult market conditions they are experiencing currently.

TRIED AND TRUE

Repeat ISRI Convention & Exhibition attendees likely will be pleased to know that the event again features commodity spotlight sessions for ferrous, copper, aluminum, nickel/stainless, electronics, paper, plastics and tires.

The Spotlight on Electronics kicks off the electronics recycling program track April 6 at 8:30 a.m. Adam Minter, author of the book Junkyard Planet and the recent article “Recycling is dead. Long live recycling,” addresses global commodity markets, electronics recycling in the developing world and other industry trends during his presentation.

Additional electronics recycling sessions planned for April 6 are Challenges and Issues in Electronics Recycling, Implications of Changes to the Electronics Recycling Industry and Evolving Opportunities for Electronics Recycling.

In addition to the Spotlight on Ferrous, attendees handling ferrous scrap will want to attend the session The Current State of DRI in the U.S. Ferrous Market, which is scheduled for April 5 at 3 p.m.

Educational sessions of interest to individuals dealing in nonferrous metals include The Lead-Free Copper Alloy Debate, The Increased Use of Aluminum in the Automotive Industry and its Impact on Recycling, Increasing Purity of Nonferrous Scrap by Using a Vibratory Feeder and A Rising Tide: The Growth of the Indian Copper Scrap Market.

Recyclers who handle recovered fiber will find the following sessions of interest: Materials Recovery for the Future: Flexible Packaging and MRF Recovery; How Sustainability, Paper and Plastic Recycling Can Help Shape a Better World; and RIOS (Recycling Industry Operating Standard) Certification and Paper Recycling.

The sessions More Than Just Tires: Understanding EDPM, Nitrile and Butyl Rubber Recycling; Responding to Myths about Tire Recycling; and Comparative Techniques for Textile and Tire Fiber Recycling will appeal to those individuals who deal with tires and rubber.

In addition to this commodity-specific programming, the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition features sessions on financial issues, safety, RIOS and general topics, such as crisis communications, unemployment regulations and regulatory compliance.

The difficult markets recyclers are facing currently make attending this year’s event all that more critical, Carr says.

He adds that attendees of the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition will find that the quality of the event will not be compromised even though markets are. “When markets are down, people are concerned that the quality of what we offer will be reduced. That certainly won’t be the case this year,” Carr says.

He adds, “In these slower market periods, the ones who hunker down will have the most trouble. You need to be out there learning ways to make your business leaner and more efficient, preparing for when markets do turn around. The smart money is on those who use these times to prepare for those times when the water is high.

“The future of recycling begins on April 2 in Las Vegas,” Carr continues.

REBOUNDING FROM 2015

Just as recyclers are hoping for better markets in the year ahead, ISRI also is hoping for renewed interest in its conference with its return to Las Vegas.

2015 was the first year ISRI took its convention outside the U.S., selecting the Vancouver Convention Centre for the event. However, a number of factors contributed to lighter attendance at that event, Carr says, attributing it to a “perfect storm of weakening markets that made it more difficult for people to travel.

“We learned a lot of lessons from Vancouver,” he says. “It’s no secret that it was not one of our better-attended shows.”

Despite the lighter attendance at the 2015 conference, Carr says ISRI continued to provide robust programming, which will remain the case in 2016, though markets have been difficult.

Carr says he believes the 2016 conference will be “appreciably better than last year and a year we will be proud of.”

He adds, “Any time ISRI returns to Vegas, registrations tend to go up. We are expecting better attendance than last year but not to break records because of the realities of the marketplace.”

Carr adds that as of mid-January, the number of paid attendees and exhibitors registered for the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition exceeded previous years’ registrations through the same period.

He reminds would-be attendees to book their flights now to save money and to get the best ROI from this year’s conference.

“There are lots of options for people to save money,” he says, citing the room rate of $65 per night at the Luxor, which is adjacent to the Mandalay Bay.

More information about the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition is available at www.isriconvention.org.

The author is managing editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted via email at dtoto@gie.net.