Pile of Scrap Ep. 46: The Walk & Talk with Andrew Lincoln - ISRI’s Environmental Justice Initiative
John is boots-on-the-ground in Washington, DC for ISRI’s Summer Board and Committee Meetings! John meets up with Andrew Lincoln, Vice President of Lincoln Recycling and member of ISRI’s Executive Committee, for a walk-and-talk episode. They discuss how ISRI is proactive in growing this industry and the importance of maintaining relationships with lobbyists and government officials, educating and promoting the recycling industry, and keeping the term “environmental justice” at the forefront of our minds.
Watch this episode on YouTube here.
Andrew Lincoln and John Sacco
John Sacco: Good morning. Welcome to Washington, DC. This is our walk and talk. I'm here with Andrew Lincoln. Lincoln… What's your new name? What's the name now?
Andrew Lincoln: Uh, Lincoln Recycling.
John: Lincoln Recycling. Andrew is a member of the Executive Committee at ISRI. He's been a former President of his chapter. He's… Tell us all the things you're involved with with ISRI because I think we're here for the ISRI Board of Directors meeting. And, Andrew, you are a young executive… Passionate about this industry. You’re working with ISRI. Tell us what all what you're doing with ISRI.
Andrew: Um, yeah, I mean, it started with my family… My dad. He was a chapter president long, long time ago. And, uh, when I came back into the business in ‘06, uh, my brother Jeremy was currently the chapter president of the Pittsburgh chapter. And, uh, I think, you know, starting my ropes off there needed help with the chapter. I got involved with the Chapter Board, helping with golf outings and eventually about, uh, six years ago, I moved up to the Executive Board for the Pittsburgh Chapter and a lot of it's operational… Doing the meetings and a lobbyist event here and there. And, uh, two years ago, I was chapter president and last year I came off and, um, Gary Champlin, when he came in on as Chair, he had decided to have, uh, two members of his Executive Committee be picked by the Council of Chapter Presidents and, uh, the Women's Council. And so, um, I decided to take that leap and luckily my peers, uh, voted me in and I'm now on my second year on the Executive Committee.
John: Can you believe a year has already gone by? How fast it goes?
Andrew: I don’t know where it went. A lot of Zoom – Zoom meetings.
John: You know, it's no surprise that you were selected by your peers. You're very active with ISRI. Why… You know, I remember when your brother was a chapter president… He seemed to, you know… He did this job, he did it well, but he doesn't have that passion, you know? Why do you have the passion? What's different? Why are you loving ISRI so much that you're putting your effort and time and everything you're doing in your volunteerism with ISRI?
Andrew: Well, I think it helps us find a voice in this industry. I mean, when you come together at the National Board Meetings, it's a lot different than the chapter level. Um, you're really trying to come up with advocacy, uh, agendas to help move the industry forward and to tackle problems, you know, at the state level to the national level. Um, and I have a passion for it, and I see that it helps me become stronger locally, local and vocal in my –in my community. And, it makes a difference. Uh, you know, you want to have grassroots campaigns. You want to have relationships because when something does go awry and issues will come up, you already want to have those relationships with your –with your lobbyists, with you – with your state representatives, um, so that you can just have a personal conversation with them before it gets bigger.
John: So, here we are in the epicenter of all regulation… Washington, DC. And, this is the first time we've been together since Nashville of February of 2020. So, it's been a long time since all of us been together. To me, there's a certain excitement to be here, and I'm sure it is for you, but now you're here. What – what are we doing? What is ISRI doing? And, you're on the Executive Committee. What – what agencies are we having challenges with or – for that matter, are we having success with right now that helps us as an industry – as the for-profit recycling industry? What – what's going on right now that you can tell us about?
Andrew: I mean, one of the very big hot topics is environmental justice. Um, you know, the Biden Administration… He's really pushing that and through his whole administration. And in ISRI… I mean, we're responding, we're trying to be as proactive as we can. Uh, there are some states that have already enacted EJ laws. And, so we're, you know, Danielle and the State Subcommittee… We're working with them. ISRI has hired a national firm to help. Um…
John: What is the big issue with environmental ju–What – where does, you know, it's, uh, it seems like it's a buzz word: Environment and justice. And, who can argue that there needs to be environmental justice. Yet, our industry, the for-profit recycling industry, we are what I've always said: We are the original environmentalists. Look, our industry, from way back from your father and the generations ahead of us have always been environmentalists.
Andrew: Oh, sure.
John: But, we just were never deemed that we were. You know, we went from junk to recycling to now – or, junk to scrap. Now, we're recyclers, but we've been recyclers from the get-go. So, but what is environment? What is the, you know, crux of this whole thing? What's going on with this?
Andrew: The tie in between environment and justice? I think, it's two things. It's also a combination of a civil rights movement. Um, there's been known to have fence line communities where you have – where industries were allowed to operate. And then, uh, you have poorer communities, you have Black communities, you have Hispanic communities that live around those areas.
Andrew: And, I think that's where the environment justice movement is. It's trying to make sure everyone has equal rights to clean air, clean water. Um, yes, recycling is important. Um, unfortunately, in some states, we're a named industry and we don't want to be a named industry. We want to show the EPA or the State EPA Associations that we're here to try to help. We're providing jobs, we're… If we're not… If we don't have our industries, we're going to be trucking it somewhere else and causing more distress.
John: Well, okay. Take Sierra. And, our location... We are… And, they once deemed it Enterprise Zone because it was a low income area.
John: But, our – I think we did a study at Sierra. I think we're like 90% of our employees come from this area. Okay? So, jobs are not enough, it seems like. Uh, you know, we get inspected regularly in California by CalOSHA Cal EPA, or, you know, all the agencies are in… The fire department, DTSC department talks to some–and, you know, we run a clean ship.
John: How – I struggle with… What's the problem here? Is it our industry not messaging it right? Drew, do you think we need to do more as individual companies in our local areas to show the good that we're doing? What is your thoughts on how we better this image and, yet, get the word out that we are good for the environment, we are good for the local community? So, the environmental justice… We are environmental justice. And, we should be the beacons that people look to… Say, look at the recycling industry. These are the leaders in helping the communities. How do we do this?
Andrew: I think it’s messaging. I think it's getting with your local community. If you're with a chamber, if you're in a, um, economic development zone, getting with your other business neighbors, making sure you’re – everyone's doing their part to try to keep the neighborhood clean. Uh, you know, sponsoring events, uh, helping out nonprofits. I think it's all part of that messaging, the allow, uh… Invite the community into your facility, show them what you do, show them all the things you take in and that if you weren't there, it’d be going to the landfill.
John: Or the streets.
Andrew: You know, all the – it's just all the benefits of recycling. I mean,
John: I think the streets… See, my – I have always thought, and a lot of us, in our conversation amongst us, that if it wasn't for the recycling fa–then, really, we're industrial recyclers. Then that's just not the blue bin that the pollution would – that would create and would harm our environment and our local communities would be incredible if our facilities weren't there because where would all the refrigerants go? From… You know, discarded appliances, and mercury switches, and automobile fluids… That would go into the gutters and get into our waterways. It would be a huge problem. So, you know, I'm with you. I think our message. And, that's really, you know, you're – you're fighting this in respect to… You’re part of this committee and we're getting this out. And, I think people who watch this podcast are going to see and go, “Hey, maybe they need to do a little bit more.” Don't you think?
Andrew: Yeah, we all do. Well, it takes everyone. Um, starting at the chapter level… Uh, I mean the EJ Working Group has really helped me broaden, uh, my experience with, you know, the background of it… Uh, going back to the sixties and seventies and the Civil Rights Movement. Um, and, you know, we all have certain bias that we grow up with. So, I mean, it's helped educate me and, you know, just recently, our Pittsburgh Chapter… I mean, we had a lobbying event in Harrisburg and, um, it's just helped me talk to our state representatives about it ‘cause there's movements coming in or bills trying to see their way through in every state.
Andrew: Some will get passed, some won't. Um, but you know, it doesn't hurt to have that conversation now.
John: Well, that's great work and, you know, I think all of us need to do our fair share going forward and, you know, keep the messaging up. Well, now I'm going to go to another area that you're active in. This is – shows your passion and why it's not a surprise to me that you're chosen by your peers to be on the Executive Committee. You run this, uh, this event in, uh, your chapter, uh, the BYAB. Tell us a little bit about it and what's it for and what you've done.
Andrew: Sure. Uh, BYAB stands for Best Youngest And Brightest. And, this was an event started four years ago, uh, by Andy Golding and the Northern Ohio chapter. And it was, you know, sort of brought back to life. Uh, I guess, you know, decades, years ago, there was a Young Executive program. Um, I believe, actually, Brian Shine and Mark Luan, uh, met at one of them years ago.
Andrew: So, Andy brought it back to, really, uh, to allow, you know, to foster that networking within the next generation of recyclers coming into our industry. Um, it's capped at 50 individuals. Uh, we sold out Pittsburgh, uh, which is going to start next week. Um, and it's for those Young Executives ISRI members, um, that are under 40. We do – the first day, we do a meet and greet… Sort of an icebreaker. Uh, I don't want to spoil the surprise of what they're going to be doing.
John: No, no. Don’t spoil it.
Andrew: But, doing team building activities. So, you’re really, you know, getting beyond the handshake and you're working on a project with people you don't know. The following day, uh, they're going to have a leadership series with a professional speaker from Culture Shock, talking about team building within your own team in different leadership styles. And then, we give them a tour of the city.
John: I applaud this. You know, Sierra has sent some of our young people to it. And, the feedback that I get every year… Sierra is a sponsor. And, I sponsor this event not so much for the name branding. I sponsor it because I really believe in what you're doing. This is true. And, I want you to know that this is the program… This is the innovative programming that you volunteers in the industry see a need for. And, you're bringing the Young Executives throughout North America can come to this event, you're building relationships, you're educating and ultimately promoting the recycling industry in a way that's going to take us into the next, you know, the next generation.
Andrew: Yeah. No, that's, that's my hope and goal. And, some of the folks that are coming to this are already part of the ISRI Young Exec. Committee with ISRI. So, I mean, I see this as a stepping-stone for these folks to get more involved in ISRI, hopefully start stepping up into the chapter level and leadership. And then…
John: Uh, leadership's a big issue at ISRI.
Andrew: It's a national…
John: You know, not every chapter has the depth to the leadership of their chapter. And by this program, you're sparking the interest. Now, I just love what you guys are doing. And Andy Golding. Yes. You know, kudos to Andy for bringing this on, but you know, kudos to you, Drew, because you're bringing it out. You're, you're continuing, and it's a successful event. You've sold it out. And here we are, post – Well, are we post-pandemic, in the pandemic… But, you sold out how quick?
Andrew: Uh, we sold out in a week, so we…
John: That’s a testimony to the quality of the programming you're bringing in. And, I think that's fantastic. So, let me ask you this question. With all this involvement, what do you want people who watch this podcast to know about ISRI and why it's so important to be involved?
Andrew: I think it's important to help keep moving this industry forward. When we come here to the Board meetings… Yes, some of us are competitors. You know, not really where – I don't have any competitors coming from Northwest Pennsylvania, but, um, that all goes to the side and we're all here to work together and push the industry forward. And, I think it's important for the, the next generation to, you know, to pick up, carry the torch, you know, sort of to speak.
Andrew: With environmental justice or whatever the next issue may be.
John: You know, the more voices we have, the more members we have, the louder our voice is. And, I think anybody who doesn't think ISRI… If you're in the recycling industry and you're not part of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, I just think that's shortsighted. I mean, we face so much. And, like here we are in DC, you know, right here – the epicenter. And, it takes us advocating to the EPA, to OSHA, to the department of transportation… And we've had a great victory with the rail and trucking. You know, how to take on that. How do people not know why this is important? I don’t get it.
Andrew: Uh, it takes membership involvement. It takes, you know, uh, Ben, Abram speaking in front of the Transportation Board and laying out all his issues and the class one railroads are taking advantage of the shippers. Uh, you're seeing it in ocean freight. It starts with one voice and it, you know, in the trade association, someone brings it up and then it becomes a hot topic and Robin and staff pursue it. So, I mean, it, it takes members speaking up and being involved and it makes a better trade association.
John: Well, it takes members like you… Look, I was Chairman, but you're, you know… I'm 59, you’re 43. You're the next level. You're in you – and you're reaching outto the Young Executives younger than you. So, we are creating a nice level…
John: It is really where we have the experience. And then we have the leaders and we're developing leaders and, Drew, you are part of that. And, I want to thank you for that involvement because as a former Chair of ISRI, this is – it's still – I'm still passionate about ISRI. I still love it. I love coming to the meetings. I want to be involved because I know we are one bad regulation directive that could wipe our industry out. For example, when I was Chairman, the EPA came out with the definition of solid waste and our industry was in the absolute crosshairs and we could have been wiped out. And, due to the involvement of the membership, the volunteers, the great leaders to Shelly Pattons, the Joel Dumbos, the Jason Youngs, uh, John Hoffa–I forget his last name, but show many members came together and we responded to the EPA. And we – I don't want to say, “we won” because that's not the real thing. We educated them about us. And, that regulation was put aside.
Andrew: So, we weren't in their crosshairs anymore.
John: No. And, it’s every, you know, every new administration has new people who come and head these departments and some people have different ideas of what they think they want, but it takes our voice, together, to help educate them. So, our industry is not regulated out of business.
Andrew: You’re absolutely right.
John: Well, Drew, I want to thank you so much.
Andrew: I want to thank you, John. Uh, you know, you've been a, a mentor to me and growing up in ISRI… And, your involvement and I appreciate…
John: Where did we have dinner when you were right with your fiancé? We were having fun that one night you were texting her?
Andrew: Oh, that was in Vegas, I think.
John: Is it Vegas? I thought it was New Orleans. It doesn't matter, but you know what? You're welcome, but thank you. This excites me to have people like you. And, knowing that as a former Chair, I look to the future. ISRI’s got a strong, bright future, and it's because of you, Andrew Lincoln. Thank you very much. And, that's it for another episode of Pile of Scrap, the Walk and Talk.