When we began planning in late 2019 to examine the state of the scrap recycling industry in North America, we never imagined that 2020 would bring with it a global pandemic that even as of mid-August continues to disrupt operations for many recyclers and traders and the manufacturers and individuals who supply them.

Alas, that has been the case, with most businesses feeling the brunt of the impact when cities and states began issuing shelter-at-home orders in late March. Many of these orders extended through April. Automotive production stopped, disrupting the aluminum and ferrous sectors most significantly. But that was not the only segment of the manufacturing industry that was affected; the effects were more far-reaching, including the aviation industry and the oil and gas sector.

While manufacturing has rebounded to some extent as of mid-August, recyclers still indicate that generation is off by 20 to 30 percent.

The pandemic is a recurring theme across many of our questions to the industry via a survey that Readex Research, Stillwater, Minnesota, sent out on Recycling Today’s behalf in July. It also was a talking point during our mid-May roundtable, which virtually gathered a number of scrap industry executives to discuss the issues and opportunities they see ahead for the scrap recycling industry. We had planned to host the roundtable during the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Convention in Las Vegas in April, but that event was canceled because of the pandemic. The following pages include excerpts from that conversation as well as the survey results.

We’d like to thank our State of the Scrap Recycling Industry sponsors that have helped to make this research possible: Eriez Manufacturing Co., General Kinematics Corp., Harris, Liebherr USA Co. and Sennebogen LLC.

We’d also like to thank our roundtable participants (See above.) who shared their time and thoughts with us and those of you who took the time to take the survey. Your input is essential to all that we do.

While a pall of uncertainty still hangs over the industry, our roundtable participants expressed certainty in the resilience of the scrap industry and hope for better days ahead.

Stay strong and scrap on.