The mood of the recycling industry can be measured in many ways. ISRI2018, the annual convention hosted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, is one place where recycling professionals can assess the market, view new products and technologies, network and get a good indication of where the industry stands.

ISRI says the event is the world’s largest annual gathering of scrap recycling professionals. Scheduled for April 14-19 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, this is ISRI’s seventh convention at this venue in the past 12 years, says Chuck Carr, ISRI vice president of convention, education and training.

“There is no better place to gauge the mood of the industry year over year than at an ISRI convention,” Carr says. “ISRI2018 is going to be our largest show in many years as business is stronger and world issues [are] ever-more important to local, regional and international trade.”

Getting a global perspective

With the changing import policy in China, international trade will be a hot topic at this year’s event. Carr says ISRI always intends to present information on the latest world issues, and this year will be no different, with the exception of who will be delivering the messages.

Other topics to be discussed are human resources compliance, business valuation and commodity markets.

Keynote speaker Carlos Gutierrez is well-versed in trade with China and the rest of the world, says Carr. Gutierrez, who will speak during the Opening General Session Tuesday, April 17, served as CEO and president of Kellogg Co. from 1999 to 2004 and as chairman from 2000 to 2004. He also served as Secretary of Commerce in the George W. Bush administration, where he showed he understands the world of business, ISRI says. As the nation’s top commercial advocate, Gutierrez helped open global markets for U.S. companies and was a champion of efforts to build new trade partnerships in Latin America. Today, he serves as co-chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group and sits on the board of Time Warner Inc.

Regarding Gutierrez, Carr says, “His speech will kick off workshop sessions that will discuss the nature of China’s new policies and give the absolute latest news available to attendees.”

He adds, “We also expect a substantial delegation from Chinese industry who will be on hand to give their perspective as well.”

Nearly 4,300 recycling professionals from more than 50 countries attended ISRI2017 in New Orleans, Carr says. For this year’s event, he anticipates the convention will continue to attract attendees from around the world, adding that the event has become the “primary, must-attend show in the business across the globe.”

He notes that simultaneous translation services will be made available for all general session programs and for a portion of other workshop programs. Additionally, language assistants will be on hand at the registration desks.

“Whether you operate a small facility that typically trades with local mills or an international conglomerate operating in many countries, our industry is global and is impacted by the global economy and events,” Carr says. “ISRI gives folks the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world and gain knowledge that can help their businesses strive.”

He continues, “With the constantly changing state of trade and the economy, attendance in 2018 is as important as ever.”

Putting heads together

Meeting colleagues, networking and making business deals in person are standard practices at large events like ISRI2018. One place for attendees to meet is the exhibit hall, where nearly 300 exhibitors will be showcasing the latest equipment and technologies available to the recycling industry. Another such area is inside the meeting rooms where sessions are held.

Workshop sessions and spotlight programs are planned for specific commodities and materials, including metals, paper, plastics, electronics and tires and rubber. ISRI says workshops this year will focus on putting the business “odds in your favor” for a more successful future.

“The ISRI convention provides the best networking opportunities, the best recycling-related trade show and the most comprehensive education programs available to the industry worldwide,” Carr says.

In addition to these opportunities to talk with other industry professionals, ISRI hosts its governance meetings—board and committee meetings—prior to the convention’s start. Beginning Saturday, April 14, and running right before the opening reception April 16, Carr says all ISRI members interested in making ISRI policy or drafting ISRI specifications are welcome to attend these meetings.

He explains, “These meetings, which are held quarterly, are where ISRI members set policy and budgets for the association. All ISRI members are invited to participate.”

Adding more young people

While attendees can expect to see many familiar faces throughout the show, Carr says there will be a noticeable difference in 2018: more young professional participants. ISRI has been working on growing its young professionals network, Carr says, and that work will be evident at ISRI2018.

(The ISRI Northern Ohio Chapter held a first-of-its-kind Best Young and Brightest [BYAB] event in Cleveland, July 26-27, 2017, with 45 young professionals under the age of 40 from scrap recycling companies located across the U.S. and Canada gathering for a day and a half of networking, team building and learning. The BYAB Committee is working on details for the 2018 event.)

On the other end of the spectrum, ISRI2018 also is welcoming the association’s newest group, the Century Club, which is made up of anyone whose combined age and years in the recycling business equal 100 years or greater, Carr says.

Reservations in the ISRI room block at Mandalay Bay, The Delano Las Vegas and Luxor are open. The ISRI rate for these hotels is available only through the association’s convention website, www.isri2018.org/schedule, as are additional details on registration and the event schedule.

The author is associate editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at mworkman@gie.net.