ISRI’s Commodity Roundtables Forum will take place Sept. 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. The annual event attracts processors, brokers, traders, and other recycling professionals from around the world. Register here.

Aluminum panelist Jay Armstrong has been working in the aluminum industry for decades. The president of TriALco, a primary and secondary aluminum smelter, Armstrong recently chatted with Scrap News about his passion for aluminum, and his outlook on the aluminum session at ISRI’s Commodity Roundtables Forum this week.

Can you tell me about your background and how your career led you to Trialco?

My first job in the aluminum industry was cutting grass for U.S. Reduction Co. in East Chicago, Ind. I learned how to do wet chemistry analysis before the advent of the spectrometer rendered it useless. I worked in a variety of plant operations including receiving materials, the melt department, shipping, and the metal control department scheduling heats. After graduating from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., I joined the U.S. Army. Once I returned from the Army, I became corporate metal controller for U.S. Reduction Co.’s seven plants. I went on to work for several aluminum companies before becoming president of TriALco in 2002, where I’ve been for nearly 20 years. I’ve really enjoyed tackling the challenges of the industry, as well as the great people I work with on a daily basis.

What do you find most interesting about aluminum as a commodity?

Of all the metals, aluminum is one of the most stable, at least until this year. It’s a remarkable metal. It’s infinitely recyclable and nearly 75% of all aluminum produced is still in existence. It is truly the green metal. Recycling is such an efficient, environmentally friendly action, and it’s the best way to lower the carbon footprint of the aluminum industry.

What are some topics and issues you’re looking forward to discussing during the session?

I hope to present the great progress aluminum has made in the production of the automobile, but we’re facing changes that are coming at a very fast rate. We need to proceed with caution and should only expand our production capabilities if we have contracts to fill our plants. The impact of the electric vehicle might have a profound impact on our industry.

Aside from your session, what are you looking forward to at this year’s Commodity Roundtables?

I’m most looking forward to seeing old friends and discussing the recycling and melting business with experienced and knowledgeable people.

Photos courtesy of Jay Armstrong.