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Dhawal Shah: ‘Recycling is good karma’

Recycling International regularly spotlights individual scrap traders from around the globe. Here we give the floor to Dhawal Shah of Metco Ventures. 

About the market…

‘It’s unprecedented, and unpredictable. Reminds me of Mr & Mrs. Smith – a romantic film but with constant changes of high octane action. Everyone is on the edge of their seat – hoping every decision made by them is largely correct. Hyper volatility has become embedded in daily business and we are required to act, and react quickly, to every world event.

Long term, formula-driven transactions are diminishing and are being replaced with shorter duration contracts with adequate, manageable risk cover.’

The impact of covid

‘One of the biggest learnings of the pandemic has been to be resilient and adaptive to situations. I live in Mumbai where people spend an average 2.5 hours on the daily commute. When our offices were shut for about a year, we invested our saved time in improving the quality of our business.

Profitability improved – surprisingly with less business – as we chased only specific portfolios, having better risk management, and process controls.’

Frequent flyer

‘I usually spend about four months of every year travelling; two to three trips a month. Covid came as a rude shock, as travel stopped. This year, it’s been about one trip a month, which is likely to increase if there are no more big, global misadventures.’

Favourite events?

‘I think every trade show is unique in terms of the experience. I like BIR conventions for their intensity and business opportunities; ISRI for its scale and knowledge; and MRAI for its spirit and passion.’

Best and worst deals ever?

‘The worst is easy to remember. It was in 2008/2009 when clients started walking out of contracts as the LME had crashed big time. One of my stainless scrap transactions hurt as the buyer refused to bear any of the losses.

The best was a large purchase of brass materials from Eastern Europe, where shipment was subject to personal inspection and quality approval at the loading site. The day I arrived for the inspection, it was minus 16 and I saw only a big snow mountain, presumably covering my material.

I took a leap of faith and let the shipment arrive. Two months later, the receiving plant signed an exclusive contract for that snowy material because they loved it so much.’

What I love about my job

‘It’s been 25 years in this industry, and I have seen a revolution. I come from India where I think recycling activity is at helm of bringing socio-economic transformation. I love the idea of seeing discarded materials becoming brand new. Skilled human hands and modern machines like heavy media separators and sensors working in harmony give me an adrenaline rush.

Beyond that, dealing with super crazy markets and doing business in 40 different countries is also very exciting.’  

Favourite hotel?

‘I am a big fan of Taj hotels – where the staff are trained to go out of their way to keep their customers happy. So whether it is India, Dubai, Maldives or New York – a Taj hotel has never disappointed me!’

Next trip

‘In May, to Barcelona, Spain for the BIR Convention. Wherever I am, my mission is to recycle more!’

Key business challenges

‘One of the biggest challenges for India’s metal recycling industry has been constant interference in government policies by primary metal producers looking to capture bigger market share. They are pushing for the introduction of standards for metal scrap which, in my opinion, is stealing the vibrancy, efficiency and real value for recyclers. Anyway, the industry is relentlessly working with government to have a realistic approach, and focus on recyclables versus non-recyclables.’

Personal outlook

‘Recycling is beautiful. Recycling is the solution. Recycling is good karma.’

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