Recycling Market Development SC Department of Commerce
- How would you describe your commitment to environmental / green issues? What motivates you to support environmental / green efforts personally?
I grew up surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. When you are surrounded by this type of beauty, it is easy to see that our natural resources are a precious gift that should not be taken for granted. The products that we use every day come from natural resources and ecosystem services, making business and the environment intrinsically intertwined. Sustainability is all about systems thinking. I am motivated by the question, “How do we create systems that are restorative and regenerative by design?”
- Can you give a brief description of your job at the South Carolina Department of Commerce?
As the Recycling Markets Development Manager, I coordinate the activities of the recycling team as part of the Business Services Division. We support the economic growth of South Carolina’s recycling industry through building recycling markets, increasing material recovery and promoting the recycling value chain. South Carolina has 300+ recycling companies that handle a wide variety of materials. South Carolina is unique in its recycling processing infrastructure with four recycled content paper mills, one recycled content tissue mill, two steel mills, one aluminum roller, a robust plastics recycling infrastructure and so much more. By turning waste streams into supply streams, these businesses are helping to build a circular economy. When you recycle an aluminum can, for example, that precious metal can be recycled over and over, feeding industries like the automotive, aerospace, military, construction, consumer goods and other industries. This creates jobs in our communities and strengthens our economy.
- Tell us about what you would like to accomplish in this phase of your career.
Building partnerships in a state like South Carolina is critical to moving the needle on recycling. The South Carolina Department of Commerce is working daily with companies to expand infrastructure and recruit new recycling companies into the state, of course there is still work to be done. We are uniquely positioned to work with our businesses to share the story of the economic impact of recycling. In order for recycling to be successful you need access to recycling, robust recycling infrastructure, and for businesses and individuals to take the action to recycle. Our team partners with DHEC’s Solid Waste and Recycling staff to identify solutions for these three pillars. Food waste diversion and composting is also a growing sector of the industry that is tapping into innovative technology to tackle this portion of the waste stream.
- What are your biggest concerns and challenges we face recycling in South Carolina?
Some of the challenges we face our market driven. As recyclables are driven by global commodity markets, we have seen pricing at the top of the market and the bottom. Recycling companies are dealing with change as a constant and every piece of the supply chain must sync together for it to work properly. Just as we have seen with Covid 19, supply chain disruption has ripple effects in the market.
- Where would you like to see the recycling industry in South Carolina over the next 3 years?
It is an exciting time to be in the recycling industry. South Carolina Department of Commerce just released the largest investment in the history of the department, an electric vehicle battery recycler. With the automotive sector, transitioning to electric vehicle production, this will pave the way for emerging technologies and allow the state to be a leader in this space. The recycling industry continues to grow, and with the federal funding opportunities available through the EPA and other federal agencies, I am encouraged to see this infrastructure develop.
- How can the South Carolina Department of Commerce cause new business between smaller recycle companies and small to large corporations?
The Recycling Team works with businesses every day to support their recycling needs by providing business matchmaking support and administering one-on-one materials management consultation. The Recycling Market Development team launched a free online tool called the South Carolina Recycling Markets Directory. The directory helps manufacturers keep valuable materials in motion by reducing waste and helping businesses meet sustainability goals. The platform showcases more than 300 South Carolina recycling companies, and it allows manufacturers to easily find recyclers in their area. The Recycling Market development Advisory Council advises on building the growth of the state’s recycling industry and makes recycling market program recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly each year. We have an open door policy for South Carolina recycling business owners who have ideas on how to improve the recycling rates in South Carolina.