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Cautious optimism marks ISRI forum

A mood of optimism and positive hopes for 2022 have marked the latest commodities gathering organised by the US-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

Speaking on IRSI’s latest podcast, its chief economist Joe Pickard said the key themes of the Commodities Roundtable Forums in 2021 in Chicago from 22-24 September were the general appreciation in the value of commodities, an overall improvement in market conditions and growing demand.

‘Cautiously optimistic is probably the best description of the mood at the conference,’ he said. ‘In a lot of ways conditions are better but recyclers continue to face a number of challenges including labour markets and the transportation sector. There is also recognition we face continuing obstacles like supply chain bottlenecks.’ And he noted that delegates were widely sympathetic to the difficulties faced by others.

Asked for an insight he had not anticipated, Pickard quoted analyst Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics, who suggested recyclers should review their assets and consider selling those of value. For example, disposing of capital equipment not being used, Schenker said, could help cash flow.

In terms of the US domestic conditions, Pickard said the optimism related to demand for metals from aircraft and construction. He pointed out that 70% of materials recovered for recycling in the US goes to domestic users such as steel mills and foundries.

Assistance for those unemployed by the pandemic had been curtailed in the US since Labor Day and some thought this might encourage more people to rejoin the labour force. However, Pickard said some speakers were sceptical that market labour force conditions would improve as a result.

Concluding the podcast, he thought the themes for 2022 would be commodity price volatility and that global growth could slow following the recent rapid recovery.

Listen to the podcast below:

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