Pile of Scrap Ep. 50: Make Some Noise
Looking back at 2021, John Sacco does a solo podcast to address today's most significant issues facing the recycling industry. With the government as our biggest competitor trying to label our commodities as waste and recyclers not making enough noise about it, we've begun to lose our voice. As John says, 2022 is the year we start standing up and advocating more for this industry, doing more for our communities, and educating the public on how the recycling industry operates. New year, new us.
Watch this episode on YouTube here.
John Sacco and Cheryl Coleman
Introduction: The following is an original audio series from Sierra International Machinery: Pile of Scrap with your host, John Sacco.
John Sacco: Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the Pile of Scrap. Today, well, it's, we're coming up to the end of the year and, uh, I thought I would do a podcast with, uh, a year in review and some of the things that happened during the year that really I think are, are informational and quite frankly, very important to our industry. You know, I hope everybody had a great holiday season, a great Hanukah, a great Christmas, and, uh, just wanna wish everybody the best. Uh, we move forward into 2022. So the pile of scrap have, uh, we haven't been out on the road, uh, of late, uh, to start out that I, I had COVID and at the end of September, we were planning on doing some, uh, podcast on the road. I ended up getting COVID on vaccinated and I got it. And it's, it was an interesting in 12 days in isolation, that is for sure. And now with Amron, um, variant, you know, went from Delta and now Amron and, and what have you, um, you know, there are a lot of people still getting it. And, uh, so traveling, uh, outside our offices and going to see people a little difficult, hopefully in the new year in 2022, we can get out there and have some podcasts with other customers that seems that people like, and, uh, I'm looking forward to this next year, but I wanted to talk about the start off as in the year in review, as a win and a loss that our industry had when fighting regulators. And I ask this question, who is your biggest competitor? And a lot of people are gonna say, well, it's ABC, uh, recycling down the street or X, Y, Z recycling to me the biggest comp competition to our industry. Isn't ourselves. Isn't other recyclers. It's the government to me, the government is our biggest competitor and they just keep coming and coming after us. They're relentless cuz they have the deepest pocket books out of anybody. And let me give you here in California, what transpired this last year? Uh, first I'm gonna start with, uh, a loss, the DTSC, which is the department substance toxic controlled, made an emergency action to shut down automobile shredders in the state of California calling them, uh, hazardous waste processors. Well, they fought this in, um, late August and September, but withdrew the motion after we've filed all our responses. And they did this in, I think in a very nefarious way, they took our playbook. They saw how we were gonna respond and they re re manipulate it and resubmit. And they won the action. Automobile shredders in the state of California have based on their win are now hazardous waste processors, but the auto shredders and other recyclers have filed suit to put an injunction against this, to litigate this. Now this, this is big because in the end commodities aren't waste. And I think this is the biggest problem we face because the competition governments would love to lump in commodities as a, as metal and copper and iron and stainless steel and, and aluminum as waste. And if they could do that, just think of the power grab you government would have by capturing our commodities that are traded free and fairly on the open market. But now they get to control it. Now they get the revenues and the sinking revenue budgets as budgets soar throughout every city municipality across this land. Just think of that victory, if they could win that, what they could do. And I think it's just even more essential that as anybody who would listen to this podcast, if you're in the recycling industry and you are not advocating and you are not out in front, we're just gonna get destroyed. You know, the old saying, if you're not at the table, you're gonna be on the menu. And quite frankly, our industry's on the you in a lot of places across this land. So let's talk about the victory. Israel members in California, the chap, our chapter of the Institute of scrap recycling industry sued the state of California or Cal recycle a division there that they wanted us to report all our materials that we purchase wanted to know the source, where they came from and how many tons that we process. And they did this under the skies that, Hey, this is diversion from landfill. Well, our commodities are never destined for the landfill. No, but no manufacturer who has a residual metal recyclables scrap is going to, to go to landfill with it. Or if you have aluminum residuals, or if you have copper residuals or stainless residuals, any form of metal paper, uh, cardboard, you're not going to the landfill with this material. These people are far too savvy. I understand there's a commodity and they have a lot of value there, but Cal recycle try to co-opt all us as, and identified it as waste. So is re the chapter. We sued Cal recycle. And not only did we win, we won with bias to the point where they can't do that anymore. So if you are ISRI member and the state of California, you do not have to report to the state of California, any information, and just think about that. Why would they wanna know where the sources of our information is? So if they could ever power grab recyclables and make it all waste, they would know immediately who has it. They know immediately everything about our industry and they don't have to do anything about it. The billions of dollars that our industry has invested the private owners, the for profit recyclers, such as Sierra and all our other friends across California and across this land, we would've lost our businesses. And, and, and I, I don't think I'm overstating the problem here, because this is, this is what we fight. That's why I say government is the biggest competitor we have. So I ask yourself why, why are they this way? Because I think a lot of it has to be attributed to the self-inflicted wound. Our industry is put upon ourselves. And what do I mean by that? Well, there's some bad actors out there. You, you read all the time, metal, recycler, and scam to buy stolen materials. And that's problematic. We gotta weed those people out of our industry because one bad apple spoils the bunch. But you know, there's a lot of us in this industry who do it the right way. Like here in California, you have to photograph everything you buy, you have to fingerprint and you have to have license plate. And we have tag and hole where you can't pay people for three days. And we're doing it by the book with all these bad actors out there that are doing it cause us harm. Cause all of us who are doing recycling in the responsible manner, in the proper manner they're hurting us. And you know that that's gotta, that's gotta stop. Also, another thing is we we're hiding our industry is hiding from the fact that yeah, our jobs look a little dirty. You know, there's little grit underneath the fingernails to be in the recycling industries, but there's no without grit, there is no green and green is not money. Green is the environment. There's, it's an undeniable fact that recycling is essential and we are the essential, raw material supplier to critical manufacturing. Without our materials, nothing gets made in this country. You can't make automobile. You cannot build hospitals. Can't build schools. You can't build highways and bridges without recycled metal, nothing electrical in, in, in the hos, all the things inside the hospitals, all the equipment, all the electronics that run schools and phone systems and daily businesses cannot be made without our industry. And I think we need to get out and front of it. Now, I, I want more people. This should be your new year's resolution. I, I sound like I'm preaching to the choir, but guess what? The choir's not singing loud enough. We need to get out there and we need to be posting. Why we're essential. Talk about the materials that we're processing and how we are supplying manufacturers with their raw materials. So critical goods can be made during this pandemic. What we heard about, oh, what's essential business. And the government got to choose winners and losers who got to be open. And who didn't think about that? There was a lot of work done behind the scenes that got our industry in many states is essential. Why? Because we do supply mills and consumers with our product. Just think about this paper. If it wasn't for the paper, recycling industry paper mills, would've ran out of paper to make all the tissue paper, paper, toilet, paper, napkins, paper towels. Would we run out in two to three weeks without recycled fiber? Our industry, the for-profit recycled industry provides that material to the paper mills. This is, this is paramount to what we do. This is I'm very passionate about it because I, I, I feel that we've lost our voice. Now my, my arching director, Lindsay Morada, she, she says, you're stealing. Need my line. Well, it's true. Our industry's lost their voice. Get out people and get out there and get in front of this going forward, because this is what's going to help us and educating policy makers, regulators, and activists that we do good for the environment. We do good them, great paying jobs. You know, our industry, there's so many good paying jobs, jobs that pay well above the poverty line because they're essential to running our businesses, welders and technicians and machine operators. These are people making north 60,000, north of 80,000 truck drivers in California. Some of 'em make above the a hundred thousand dollars. Mark. Those are great paying jobs. This isn't an industry in which we're dealing with slave labor and bottom of the barrel because it's too technical. Safety's a big part of what we do. And you have to have people who know how to operate safely because without that, we don't get to stay open individual operations. So I think that's very important note going forward. So get out in your communities, clean, help, clean up your communities, do more for your community. 2022, your resolution should be do more for your communities. The for-profit recycling industry does a lot get out there and do more, make it your point to do more, to educate the people higher from your communities. Be a source, be the beacon in your communities. A place that people in the community say without that recycling facility, we would be a worse off community. Make get your goal going forward. Cuz that's what we're doing at Sierra. We've hired a community relations coordinator. We've been out cleaning up neighborhoods. You've probably seen it in some of our content. Um, we're doing more. We're hiring from the community more. We we're given away. We're given back to the schools and our community. And I think it's coming to everybody to do the same, get out there and do more. That's your resolution. It should be going forward in 2022, you know, CNN run this piece on this college student who was, um, outraged that in the blue bin or recycled bin, not everything was recycled. All her plastics didn't get recycled and she was outraged. And how, how can you call it a recycled bin if everything's not recycled that goes into it. I think that that's our opportunity to educate because not everything is recyclable. Regardless if the manufacturers call it recyclable, you have to be able to do it with profit. You know, real estate is a big component to recycling facilities and we don't have enough real estate to store all the plastics that are single use plastics. Like you go to McDonald's and you get your fork and your napkin in your spoon and you tear open that plastic. What do you do with it? Now you can put it in the blue bin. Now the recycle bin, you can do that. But when it goes to MEFs, they're probably not gonna get pulled out because there's no weight and then you need too much volume. So I don't think it should be outrageous that everything doesn't get recycled that gets into the recycled bin. I think when they finish recycling, everything they possibly can. What's left over, doesn't get put into our waterways. Does it get put into our rivers, into our oceans? They're properly disposed of at the end, when we've done everything we can to pull out in that particular. And so I think people need to understand 80% more than 80% of everything recycled in this country is industrial recyclables. Industrial metals that have been are a byproduct of manufacturing. You know, the recycle bin is less than 20% yet. It seems it gets a lot of, of the focus. But if we tell our story that we're 80%, we're above 80%. I think we can change the, the focus here without our industry, without the for-profit recycling industry. You know, where's this, material's gonna go forget about what it does for the manufacturing and the building of goods. We're all automobiles gonna go. And the pollutants from the oils and the, the, the, the liquids that are in automobiles and appliances and any other metal that is to, that can be recycled, which is recycled. Where's it gonna go? We gonna fill up landfill space with materials that it can be reused and repurposed. No, just that's crazy. That's nine. So it's incumbent upon us going back. We have to tell our story. We may be preaching to the choir, but our choir needs to start singing louder. So, you know, we go forward we're we're hopefully we're gonna have, um, you know, in 2022, we're looking forward to the Israel convention. I'm gonna to be doing a live podcast and I'm hoping I get a lot of people want to come on and sit down with me on the stage. And, uh, at our booth in Israel should, um, should we have an in-person convention? Which I really hope we will, but you know, nobody knows with the, with the virus, with the COVID, what, what will happen. It's my hope that they find the cure. I mean, I know the vaccine is important, but you know, like as they found, not necessarily the cure, but they found what helps keep people alive. And hopefully soon the drug companies are gonna find cures and solution to where we can meet. Again, God forbids somebody in your family does get COVID that there is treatment. And if we can get treatment that saves more lives along with the vaccine and along with, you know, being socially responsible, if you're sick home, you know, we can have a great convention here this next year, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody again, you know, it's just been so long since we got to be together in a room. And I, I personally, oops, I personally am looking forward to that. Um, you know, some of the other things too, and, and looking back in the year, we've seen commodity stays very strong and 2022 talking to some economists, you know, we have new mills going online. The government, um, has a lot of infrastructure plants that they plan on spending a lot of money. I believe our industry's in position to do pretty good this next year. And, um, a lot of people made a lot of investment, so we're gonna keep investing in our operations because the for-profit recycling industry is about making sure we can be here tomorrow with reinvestment today. And, and it's very important, you know, it's, it's a great industry. Um, how many jobs, how many people's lives we impact? How many family is that we feed? You know, this, this industry is quite frankly, one of the backbones of this country. You know, it's just a great indu industry to serve. I'm I'm, I, I'm so blessed to be able to say that I, I work in this industry because I feel like there's real purpose of what we're doing. And, um, you know, we're gonna continue on, we're gonna March on in 2022, um, a couple other things, you know, a company Sierra we're growing our, our recycling demolition side of our business is growing. We're, we're doing more projects. Uh, and you know, I think urban D uh, demolition is urban recycling because you take so many things that you tear down and you pull the recyclables out and then you can reuse the asphalt for are base and concrete for base. And, you know, we're doing a lot pulling the metals out and, and there's a lot of things that are being able to be recycled. So we do a lot of, uh, you know, urban renewal, if you will. And, uh, uh, really excited about that. The, our equipment companies here, international machinery is poised. We're gonna be introducing some new products going forward to this, uh, new year. And we're really excited about that and stay tuned. We're gonna be announcing things, you know, we've had a lot of fun content, you know, Sierra's out there every day, putting out content. I had a lot of fun doing commercials. Um, but you know, the content that we're creating and why are we doing, why do we do this every day? Is again, it's about to our message, the message of the good of what we really do. And, um, the more people that join on and more people that start doing it, and I'm seeing a lot more people do it, but we need, we need thousands of people out there, daily thousands of companies saying on a daily basis, what they're doing. And then maybe people in this country will start saying, you know, recycling is not, is essential. And it's critical to what the data, to the health of our communities, to the health of the people that live in these communities. Because without us, I think the greater pollution around us would just would just be dating. And, and, and, and that's not what we want. Well, I'm coming here to the end. And again, I want to thank everybody. Who's listened to pile of scrap. Everybody who is out there trying to make a difference in the world, in our industry, you know, keep, keep fighting, keep swinging. Because as mu, as many times as we get, you know, things thrown at us that look like challenges than they are, but we keep winning because together we can win this, this battle of misinformation and, and lack of understanding of what we do here in the recycling industry. So I wanna wish everybody a happy new year, an incredibly prosperous 20, 22 <affirmative> and get out there and let's have some fun, have a safe new year's Eve don't drink and drive. That's always my message in our industry. I always say, and I say it every podcast, we are the original environmentalist. Now, without grit, there is no green. So everybody, I wanna say, thank you again, happy new year. And that's it for this 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.