In this special event series, ISRI News is in Chicago covering The Roundtables. The annual event attracts processors, brokers, traders and other recycling professionals from around the world.

Recycled materials employment pipeline, mistrust in the London Metals Exchange (LME) and India were all part of this year’s nickel and stainless steel panel discussion at The Roundtables. The panel, moderated by Dave Bestwick, director of sales and procurement at Dominion Nickel Alloys, included Joe Pickard, ISRI chief economist and director of commodities, and Nidhi Turakhia, partner and executive vice president at Allied Alloys.

Pickard started the panel with a brief economic overview stating that “the US economy has been remarkably resilient…job openings are now at 8.8 million.” He mentioned that unemployment also increased over the last month which could mean that we’re headed for a soft landing with regards to inflation.

“What are we defining as a soft landing?” asked Bestwick, echoing concerns held by many. Pickard explained that getting inflation down to 2% without a major economic contraction would constitute a soft landing. “While overall the economy continues to grow, the manufacturing sector is still contracting,” said Pickard.

Despite the increase in unemployment, Turakhia shared that “while there is a strong labor market [in Texas] it is still hard to find and keep employees in the recycled materials industry.” She mentioned the best solution is “educating the next generation on the recycled materials industry.” Turakhia mentioned ISRI’s workforce development program helping her and her company increase the employment pipeline.

“When are we getting a competitor to the LME?” asked Bestwick, highlighting how confidence has been eroding due to recent events including Kataman alleging it has been the victim of metals fraud after a shipment it bought supposedly full of nickel was instead filled with steel waste. All the panelists agreed that it is time the LME had some competition.

India is now home to the world’s largest population and potentially the largest export market for the US, especially for steel. “This growing population has meant a growing transportation industry and a large increase in stainless steel use to complete current and future transportation projects,” explained Turakhia. India seems to be where China was 10-15 years ago signaling that growth and lucrative trade could be sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Images courtesy of ISRI.

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno is a Communications Manager at ReMA. He is fascinated by the innovation and sustainability found in the recycling industry. He graduated from The Catholic University of America where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Spanish. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his collection of short stories he hopes to one day finish writing.