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Doug Kramer: ‘Uncharted territory for all of us’

The coronavirus crisis is affecting the lives and businesses of recyclers around the globe. ‘There is no free movement of scrap and that’s scary,’ says former ISRI chair Doug Kramer of Kramer Metals and Spectrum Alloys, based in Los Angeles, USA.   

How are you Doug?

‘My family and I are fine. The boys are schooling from home and are well. My wife is staying at home as much as possible. Our lives are really centred around the house… we are not seeing our parents or siblings or our friends so it’s a rather confined and communication-less existence right now.’ 

What has been the impact on your business?

‘Our company, like all of the scrap recycling industry, is considered an essential sector so we are open for business. For the world to see, it is business as usual. But our staff are working from home, traders are not in the office and some clerical staff are also working from home.’

What is the impact on day-to-day operations at the yards?

‘We have had a meeting with our people who have remained on the job, which is everyone, thankfully. We explained that their world has changed and that, effective immediately, we would enforce four rules: there will be two metres of separation between all personnel and customers at all times; the wearing of disposable plastic gloves as well as frequent hand washing is encouraged; the public dock will be limited to three customers at a time; the steel yard will be limited to five customers at a time.’

What do you hear from fellow recyclers?

‘I hear fear about the future from the recycling community but I think it is spurred on by a lack of knowledge, generally, about COVID-19 and because we do not yet know how long this partial shut down will last. The world has shut down; there is no open or free movement of scrap and that is scary. This doesn’t feel like the economic crisis in 2008. This is uncharted territory for all of us.’

What impact do you expect for the longer term?

‘I think and believe that we will be OK and that the business will survive this. We are making all of the necessary financial decisions to ensure our long-term survivability. Some of those decisions are painful, some are not. But the uncertainty and pressure of ‘how long’ is what hurts the most. It’s just a really scary and difficult time right now.’ 

Doug Kramer: ‘I hear fear about the future from the recycling community.’

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