Staying ahead of the curve

Departments - Editor’s Letter

'C&DR' Managing Editor Bob Gaetjens discusses ferrous market lulls and how this month's cover story, van der Linde Recycling, overcame adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 30, 2022

I’ve loved every minute of learning more about the C&D recycling and demolition industries since I joined Construction & Demolition Recycling earlier this year. Of all the topics I’ve explored, one of the most central to the recycling process is material recovery facility (MRF) operations. It’s where the magic happens and where discarded materials can regain their value.

One of the industry’s best learning opportunities is coming up soon: Recycling Today Media Group’s MRF Operations Forum, which takes place Oct. 17 and 18 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago.

Keeping pace with changes in material recovery technologies challenges our staff as journalists, and I’m sure it’s equally challenging for facility operators to keep tabs on the latest developments in technology.

The speakers at this event include equipment manufacturers, facility design experts, MRF operators and government officials. Session topics include an overview of the latest MRF best practices in a series of case studies, a close look at optical sorting, a session focusing on how major equipment vendors are responding to increased manufacturing costs and supply chain issues and more.

For more information, visit

Before you brush up on your MRF technology, read Recycling Today Media Group Senior Editor Brian Taylor’s article, “Cold comfort in a hot summer,” which overviews the precipitous drop in ferrous scrap pricing over the past several months. After prices for No. 1 heavy melting steel peaked in March at $445 per ton, they might have bottomed out in July at $355 a ton. This was despite pricing for hot-rolled coil that remains high in historic terms.

Fortunately for demolition contractors and C&D recyclers, signs indicate that ferrous scrap markets might have started to recover in August, but time will tell. As Taylor writes in the article, “The market for steel and iron scrap is a global one, and momentum can reappear and disappear in a matter of days.”

Our cover story this month, titled “Seeking diversity in a downturn,” highlights a firm that was able to pivot sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that accompanied it. Van der Linde Recycling and Rental Containers CEO Andrea Johnson took advantage of a decrease in incoming materials in the early days of the pandemic to find end markets for some of the materials the facility already received.

Since taking the helm at van der Linde in 2018, Johnson joined the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, which she says has been an invaluable source of information and networking opportunities, including finding potential new end markets for materials van der Linde processes.

After hearing so many stories about businesses having trouble during the pandemic, it was nice to hear a pandemic success story.