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Q&A: Robin Wiener reflects on more than a decade of ISRI conventions

Q&A: Robin Wiener reflects on more than a decade of ISRI conventions

With a strong commitment to sustainability and recycling, ISRI President Robin Wiener has been at the helm of the institute for over a decade, steering ISRI through a period of significant evolution within the industry. I caught up with Wiener to discuss the industry's dynamic growth throughout the years, as well as her vision and expectations for the upcoming convention which is poised to be another milestone in the industry.

Slone Fox: How would you categorize the current state of the recycling industry?

Robin Wiener: The recycled materials industry is strong and is an important part of the solution to a more resilient planet and a sustainable economy. Over the long term, I see a greater understanding on the part of the general public and policymakers about the importance of recycling. This vision is especially true in the framework of what is needed for a resilient planet going forward. 

Decarbonization and the goal of net zero by 2050 means that we're going to need more copper, steel, lithium, and other metals and minerals to create the electric vehicles, batteries, and related infrastructure of the future. From an environmental and economic perspective, recycling delivers those materials efficiently, while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is a necessary and beneficial part of the solution.

SF: How has the overarching focus of the ISRI convention evolved over the years? What factors have influenced these shifts in emphasis? 

RW: The ISRI Convention is truly a unique and wonderful event - so much so that each has a distinct name and brand identity, this year being ISRI2024. I believe over the last several years, we have really refined what we deliver to attendees to ensure that they get the networking opportunities they value, the educational sessions that grow their business, and the thought leadership from keynote speakers that inspires them. We have dialed in on this formula by truly listening to what our attendees value and then surpassing what they could even imagine in terms of an experience. I am excited for ISRI2024 because it is set to surpass expectations once again. 

SF: What are some ways the ISRI convention contributes to the overall advancement of the recycling industry?

RW: I always look forward to attending ISRI's annual convention so that I can walk through the trade show floor and see the latest in new technologies, processes, and equipment for the industry. The ISRI Convention features the largest exhibit floor of any recycling event, with more than 365 exhibitors this year, showcasing the next generation in recycling technologies and solutions. We also have seven educational tracks that cover every aspect of the recycled materials industry. The sessions are targeted so that any member of a company will find insights from thought leaders that are relevant to their position and area of expertise.  

SF: On a personal level, what do you look forward to most at these shows?

RW: Reconnecting with longtime members - and meeting our ever-growing list of new members - is one of my favourite things all year. I have been attending our convention for over a decade, and many of our members have similarly long histories that can reach back generations. To know that we are not only still engaging these longtime members, but also growing the audience and consistently breaking attendance records, speaks to how dynamic our program has become. There's a buzz during the opening session, excitement on the show floor, and a wonderful feeling of camaraderie throughout the entire event. I cannot wait to see everyone this April 16 - 18 in Las Vegas, and invite everyone to join us for the most impactful recycling event in the world! 

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