Careers in Recycling
by Judy Ferraro VP of Sales
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
It has been my pleasure to work in the recycling industry for over four decades. In looking back, I thought taking a job as a buyer for a metal recyclables company would be a stepping stone to something greater. And here I am, 40 plus years later and greater than ever.
Stud Turkel’s book Working, tells the history of Americans discussing their jobs, the specific responsibilities involved, and the meaning derived from their work. If there is an absence of meaning in what we do, the days and weeks drag on and enthusiasm is non-existent. A Gallup poll states that 95% of workers dislike their jobs. I feel fortunate to be in the 5% who are engaged in their work. The key is to identify an industry that aligns with your values and then find a position within that industry. Recycling, for example, offers positions like truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, yard workers, sales professionals, accountants, environmental engineers, lawyers, human resources and the list goes on.
In today’s world, there is a focus on the environment. That is why I now ask young people their passion. If it’s sports, I encourage them focus on a position in that industry. If they talk about recycling, I help them see the many opportunities for all areas of expertise in the recycling industry.
The recycling industry was a perfect fit for me. I didn’t look at my position as buying scrap from manufacturing companies, I looked at it as helping them find a better situation whether it be process, pricing or payment terms. And at the end of each day, I knew that everything I purchased was being responsibly recycled. I helped people and the environment at the same time.
I’m grateful for the diligence that manufacturers have nowadays in recovering the fluids used in the manufacturing process. There has been much progress in the last 30 years and I’m grateful to be involved in Shapiro’s new program designed to cut fuel expenses by extracting and then reusing the cutting fluid. For the most part, manufacturers believe their in-house process has effectively mastered the challenge of removing the cutting fluids from their turnings. Once using our system, many of our customers have found that the program provides significant cost savings while adding life to the cutting fluids. Reusing is one of the most important tenets of recycling.
Working at Shapiro has fulfilled my desire to responsibly recycle more than just metals. While there may be initial time and expense in assessing a company’s sustainability initiatives, more often than not, there are cost savings and significantly lower greenhouse emissions with the proper program in place. Receiving a Global Sustainability Award in 2021 makes the mission even more rewarding. I put my head to the pillow every night knowing that I have done something for more than just myself.
Earth Month is a great time to assess what you are doing both personally and professionally to reuse and recycle responsibly, but I encourage you to talk about that with your teams and family monthly. And if you know someone who is passionate about recycling, send them our way. We are always looking for people who care about our planet and want to make a difference.