DJ VanDeusen, WestRock

In the runup to the 2017 Resource Recycling Conference, we’re offering email profiles of a few of the experts who will be taking the stage in Minneapolis this month.

This week, we feature DJ VanDeusen, senior vice president of the recycling division at paper manufacturer and recycling facility operator WestRock.

He will be participating in the conference’s markets panel on Tuesday, Aug. 29, offering an insider’s perspective on recovered fiber pricing trends.

What are a few key aspects of the global fiber market you’ll explore?

While global recovered fiber demand has been experiencing steady growth over the past 20 years – demand more than doubling in the time frame to over 205 million metric tons – basic components of the growth are changing dramatically. China, Korea, Vietnam and other developing regions are now responsible for the increased demand for recovered fiber and the grade mix has shifted to a reliance on OCC for a much larger portion of the global furnish requirements. The recent demand growth is largely a result of the massive increase in e-commerce as corrugated box demand has surged – this presents a unique set of new challenges for the industry as more and more corrugated is ending up in homes across the globe.

How can recycling stakeholders best respond to that OCC shift?

Traditional retail, commercial, and grocery supply chains capture near theoretical maximum recovery of OCC whereas capture through residential collection and processing experiences a significant drop in recovery rates due to sort system design and functionality, contamination of fiber when commingled, and the lack of recycling access. As the supply chain changes in response to the growing e-commerce economy, collection and processing methods will have to keep pace to ensure sufficient fiber for the growing global demand.

China recently made headlines when it announced it will ban imports of certain recovered materials later this year. What’s your reaction to the announcement, and is this something that will figure into your presentation?

There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the announced ban on certain materials in China – uncertainty regarding the specific material impacted, the quality specifications that will be required to allow material to be imported, and the timing and enforcement of the ban. Most intelligence has the ban impacting what is currently imported as mixed paper, but given the reliance on that material for the China paper and paperboard industry the effect of the ban, depending on the enforcement process, could be staggering. We’ll explore some of the potential impacts and our thoughts on the most likely outcome during the session.

What makes you most excited to be a part of the recycling industry right now?

How can you be in this business and not be excited right now? The emerging market factors and pace of change in the industry create a constant challenge for our industry. We’re trying to ensure that we are providing materials required for a global economy, partnering with paper and packaging producers to develop sustainable solutions, and driving higher recovery rates of recyclable material despite all of the changes that make it more difficult to do so.

VanDeusen will be joined by Joel Morales of IHS Markit and Joe Pickard of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in the “Market Demands” session to be held Tuesday, Aug. 29. It will be moderated by Will Sagar of the Southeast Recycling Development Council.

The 2017 Resource Recycling Conference is set for Aug. 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Registration is now open. Act now to get the discounted conference hotel rate. Head to for all the latest information on attending.


Resource Recycling Conference