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Happy To Be Back In The Land Of The Living

A Most Unwelcome Disruption

We apologize for the lengthy holiday break. It has been a while since we have posted a blog. Unfortunately, there was good reason for that.

As luck would have it, our blog has not only had some success in attracting readers who were interested in our take on the industry it was also attractive to those who spend their time hacking their way through the internet looking for nefarious ways to spread their spam and ransom their way to whatever is their definition of success.

It has increasingly become a risk of being connected on the internet and correspondingly, a cost of doing business. There is no protection that is 100% effective.

The Pentagon, in fact, is currently looking for a few “good” hackers for its Hack The Pentagon Program. They will try to breach the Defense Department’s public Internet pages in an attempt to find and fix vulnerabilities.

Fortunately our friends at TMHR Consulting and See Through Web were able to wrestle out our problems but not before we changed platforms and did a whole bunch of other stuff. Hence the reason we put our blogging on hold for a few weeks. Again, we are glad to be back.

 

Metal Pricing Ups and Downs

In the meantime, if you have continued to follow prices on our website or on our Peel Scrap App you will certainly be aware that commodity prices have remained   lacklustre. We still do not see any substantial improvement in the near term. The fundamentals just don’t warrant it. So if you are waiting for some big number increases on commodity pricing don’t hold your breath. Patience will still be a virtue for a while although we are starting to see some small upward movement in the price of at least some commodities. Whether this can be sustained is yet be determined.

However, there is a new wind blowing from China. The regulators there have decided to transition the economy from its reliance on trade and manufacturing to consumer led growth with more reliance on other sectors such as the service sector. Growth has declined, however, and as it develops its new five year plan, China expects to lay off 1.8 million people as part of its restructuring. Many of those workers will be from the coal and steel industries where there has been overcapacity. And this might be only the first wave of layoffs.

In command economies like China, if industry is told to make steel (or widgets) they keep on making them until they are told to stop. “Zombie” factories churn out goods that sit idle in inventory.  The result is an overcapacity and this is what happened with steel. It eventually flooded other markets. To paraphrase a recent news commentary, they would bring the coal in to make steel during the day and then melt the steel down at night to use it the next day.

Since massive reform of the scale required is not without either social or political risk, we will want to keep a close watch on how it all plays out.

 

New Government Initiatives

Finally, while we were “off the air,” the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change proposed (another) new waste management strategy for the province. The Waste Free Ontario Act (Bill 151) sets its sites on creating a zero waste, circular economy. Under this bill, producers would be entirely responsible for the end-of-life management of the products they create. This is supposed to take the pressure off taxpayers and municipalities.

Characteristically, we do not know how recycling companies like ours fit into this latest model. Our view is that there already exists an established network of recyclers across the country that collects, contains and processes recyclable materials in ways that are controlled and make sense. The government could choose to work with us in helpful ways.

We have touched on this subject a few times in previous blogs over the last few years as the government has basically moved from one form of intervention to another. We will have more to say on this as the government continues to move this strategy forward.

If you have any comments on this blog or any others we would like to hear from you. Our objective is to get folks engaged. There are only two sources for the resources used in industrial manufacturing – extraction and recycling and we need to start leveling the playing field if we are really serious about the energy offsets and other benefits of using recycled materials.

 

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