Pile of Scrap Ep. 18.5: Controlling the Message - John Sacco
Are you sick and tired of the countless regulations being put on your yard that are implemented by elected officials who know nothing about the industry? John Sacco is, which is why he’s decided to tell us what we need to do to get our voices heard so that we can properly inform the public and control the message about what it is we do.
Watch this episode of Pile of Scrap here.
Introduction: The following is an original audio series from Sierra International Machinery with your host, John Sacco.
John Sacco: Welcome to a solo podcast of Pile of Scrap. I'm John Sacco and I'm coming to you live… Or, well, won't be live when you see this podcast, but I'm here in my house and a thought just occurred to me and I felt like I really wanted to talk about this. It's the power that we all have in this industry in the recycling industry. Couple of weeks ago in Nashville at the ISRI Board of Directors meeting, ISRI passed in conjunction with the NFPA about the recyclability of pizza boxes. And, why is that important to me? Well, we did a Super Bowl commercial, which I'm hoping a lot of you saw about recycling pizza boxes. It was, it was a comedy and it was a lot of fun making it. And what happened is, is it's bringing attention to these pizza companies that the pizza box that they deliver to you from the Domino’s to Papa John's, Little Caesar's, Pizza Hut, that that box is actually recyclable. Clean out the plastic, the grease paper, the grease liner, get rid of the food content, and actually you have a product that can be recycled. But, why – we're not talking about pizza boxes. What I want to talk about is the power of bringing the message to the public. You know, our industry always seems to be under attack by some regulator or some government new elected politician who really doesn't know anything about our industry. They're being told something that is as far from the truth because they don't understand our industry. And, then some journalists who’s, um, environmental socialist activists gets on it and it spreads and we're letting four people dictate to an industry of thousands how our industry's supposed to work. And, that's just wrong. Really to effect change is it's accumbent on everybody in the recycling industry to let their local politicians, let their local public know about what we're doing and how we're doing it in a responsible and productive and for-profit manner. But, if we stay silent, if we don't take to whatever platform possible – look, it's Pile of Scrap has been on YouTube, it's on Sierras International’s, we put it on our LinkedIn page and we put it on our Instagram. And, then a lot of people share it. And, there's other people doing their duty out there and letting the world know. But, there isn't the thousands of us in this industry letting the regulators know exactly what we do and how we do it, how we do it in a safe and environmental way. You know, I've, I've talked about this, about Sierra's spending $600,000 this year on stormwater. Here in Bakersfield, California, we 5.8 inches of rain a year and I'm spending $600,000 to filter water that comes off our parking lot that never touches a piece of recyclable material, not scrap iron, copper, aluminum, not cardboard, nothing. Yet, the regulators in their infinite wisdom have deemed that recyclers must recycle everything that comes off their parking lot. Okay, so I spent the money. But, this begs the question, what is Walmart doing? Why is their parking lot any cleaner than my parking lot? How about Lowe's? How about Home Depot? How about Office Maxx? How about, how about every strip mall in the United States? How about government offices: the DMV, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. None of these people have to sample their stormwater nor are they required to do anything about it to filter. So, I think our voice needs to be heard more that we can let these people know, “You can't just pick on recycling companies because ‘some SIC code’ because we're recyclers.” You know, that's not fair, but you know what? We're silent because we've been muted by those who say, “Oh, we're the evil business. We're the polluters.” I say to everybody who listens to this podcast, it's coming on you to get out there and show them that they're wrong, that we do recycle in a very environmentally conscious way. And, I've said this a few times today, but because how many of you heard us out there talking about this? How many people really are talking about what we do? Yeah, we have our great trade association. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). They're the voice of the recycling industry. Now, I was Chairman of ISRI, so anybody at ISRI, don't take this wrong, but the real voice of the recycling industry is everybody who recycles, everybody who has a scrap metal operation, paper recyclers, blue bin recycling, it doesn't matter. Tire recycling, electronics, recycling, plastics, recycling. Anybody who does a recycling function, we need to be out there communicating to the public what we do and how we do it and why we do it. Think about a steel mill without us scrap metal recyclers. You know, electric arc furnaces requires scrap metal to be run. So, we're an integral part of the U.S. manufacturing base. Without new steel, we don't have a lot of new cars and we sure don't have a lot of bridges and a lot of roads will... One day, maybe, somebody in Washington will come together and parties will come together and say, “Hey, we do need new roads and we need a new bridges.” But that's another discussion. I don't want to get into the politics of anything but without steel, copper, or aluminum, stainless steel, infrastructure. It’s not going to happen. And paper. I love the paper recycling industry because if you think about all the things that are made from recycled fibers, from paper, it's enormous. From tissues that you get at drive-ins to packaging. The content that is packaged – packaging. If we select packaging that is made from recycled fibers, we're doing the environment a favor. So we choose, we have a right to choose as consumers what products we can pick off the shelves and if it has a recycled content in its packaging well then we send a message, more recycled content in your packaging and we'll buy your product. There's a lot of things out there. I oftentimes think about – you know, cardboard is an interesting prominent because they have a liner for, if you go to a store and you pick up a 12-pack of… You name the beer company, I won't name it for you, but it's, it's a special poly lining that keeps it together because of the humidity, that moisture that gets into the carton and without it, it won't fall. It doesn't fall apart because regular cardboard, when it gets wet, eventually it could crumble and – pick it up, a 12-pack, and all 12 beers or sodas or whatever the heck it is you're wanting to get out of a 12-pack will fall on the floor. So, through innovation and through the support, packaging companies will come up with a solution. They will come up with the solution for a cardboard container that is 100% recyclable without the poly coating on it, that colorful thing. And, that will work. Innovation, you know, necessity is the mother of invention. So, now in America –switch the subject. Let's go to plastic. You know, China was the big buyer of plastic, right? And, China closed their markets. But what's happening now, you're seeing investments for people who are now making pellets from recycled plastic here in America because without a market, without consumption of plastic, it's going to go to a landfill. You can’t just say, “Oh, recycle plastic – I’ll put it in the blue bin.” Okay, that's great. It goes to the MRF and it gets recycled. It gets pulled out. Okay, I've got this bottle. Now what do I do? I put it in a bin. I bale it. Okay, I've got this bale: 1500 pounds, 1800-pound bale of PET. Now, we're going to do it. Well, if you don't have anybody consuming that plastic, then you have nothing. You just have garbage makes you feel good that you feel like you're recycling it. But recycling needs consumption. You have to be able to take the recycled product and consume it to make new products. So, hopefully we can get more investment in this country into all these different types of recycling consumption from paper mills – more paper mills are coming online, which is a great news for the paper industry. We've got more steel mills coming online here in the next couple of years, which is fantastic for the scrap metal industry. We need more plastic consumption, you know, more tire – more uses for tire. You know, maybe a little bit more government help to industry to find the usage for that. But it's – let's circle back. What, what was –how did I start this conversation? It's about us informing the public what it is we do. It's about us canvassing the politicians in the state houses across America. It's about us going into Washington D.C. and to the Capitol, knocking on the doors of our Congressmen and our Senators and saying, “Look, innovation can happen. But, quit puttin’ shackles on us – shackles in the form of regulations, shackles in the form of extra burdens with taxes and this, that, and the other. Our industry has been around for centuries and it's our industry that creates the ability to reuse products, to get them out of the landfill, but it comes to us to inform the public. We are not a big dirty junk yard people. We are recyclers. We are the original environmentalists. You've heard me in many podcasts say that. We are the original environmentalist. Why? Because we're the ones who actually keep this stuff from the landfill. That's because we've had people who can consume it. So, really, the thought that I had today for this podcast is really about us. Everybody who listens to this podcast, what are you doing to inform your local people, your local politicians, Boards, County Supervisors, or Board – whatever the heck it is. Okay. Every – from parishes, they call them in the South, into the Aldermen up in the Northeast, whatever it is. It's about us giving our message out. Don't let somebody who doesn't recycle control our message. We must control the message of what we do. And, so I'm hoping that when you listen to this, you will understand what where I'm getting at now. Everybody's on social media, everybody has their LinkedIn and everybody has Facebook and everybody has their Instagram. Well, if you're showing your business and how and what you're doing to help save this planet, then maybe our work can spread to a much larger audience and, more importantly, to the audience that makes these rules and regulations that can – that can handcuff – that shackle our businesses. So, get out there and let everybody know. Get out there and let everybody know the job we are doing as recyclers to help this environment in this great country of ours. And for that matter, I have friends in the Canada who are listening to this podcast and in Mexico and in South America, all over the world. Let's get the message out. Let us, the recyclers, control the message of recycling. So, that is it. This is my short podcast of a new episode of Pile of Scrap.
Conclusion: This has been a Sierra International Machinery original audio series. Thanks for listening. Please share this podcast and make sure to subscribe.