Recyclers have a key part to play in the war against Covid-19, just as they have in previous conflicts, the chair of Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has asserted at the start of its 2021 convention.
Gary Champlin kicked off the virtual event by asserting that the past year would be a milestone for this era. ‘The war on Covid-19 has changed our lives in ways we may not even know yet,’ he said.
‘Recyclers have always been a part of the war effort. In the World Wars, recyclers supplied the raw materials to make ships, planes, and ammunition. It’s the same now as the materials we supply have been used to produce ventilators, hospital beds, personal protective equipment, even the needles that are delivering the life-saving vaccines to people today.
‘Our industry and our people are vital to the health of our world in many ways. The world is counting on us and, together, we will deliver. It’s what we do.’
Champlin recalled how ISRI responded to the start of the pandemic, quickly gathering the information needed for its members to stay in business. By the third week of the US shutdown, ISRI had created a resource hub which was updated daily.
‘ISRI fought for, and received, from the federal government and from states across the country, the essential designation for the industry, allowing all of us to remain in operation,’ he said.
‘Together as members, leaders, and staff, we have not only survived, we have built a stronger, more nimble association and, as chair, I truly am grateful for all those efforts.’
But he also looked ahead to the trade association’s future role, notably ‘environmental justice’ (EJ), defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as ‘the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies’.
Recyclers’ critical role
‘In today’s world, EJ is here to stay,’ Champlin said. ‘It is a priority of the Biden Administration and of states across the country. As recyclers, we play a critical role in environmental protection. It is the very nature of what we do. ‘There is no better example of the old saying in politics: “You’re either at the table, or you’re on the menu.” Our industry must begin today to turn this challenge into an opportunity. It is the experience and expertise of ISRI members that allows us to lead into this future.
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