Learn How to Identify Metals in Your Pajamas

From spending part of his childhood at the family recycling business to management positions in small and large organizations, Brad Rudover has devoted his life to serving the metals recycling business. He took on volunteer roles with ISRI and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) for several years. He operates nonferrous brokerage Detroit Scrap Consulting Services in Bellingham, Wash.

In 2020, Rudover and his business partner Kate Fraser created and launched Scrap University and began offering their Certified Scrap Metal Professional (CSMP) Boot Camp to lessen the daily challenges businesses face when training metal identification and upgrades. ISRI and ScrapU formalized an education agreement in fall 2021 that grants ISRI members access to education, training, and certification for discounted rates.

Scrap News interviewed Rudover about the partnership and a new venture he is undertaking to spread knowledge about recycling to a younger audience.

Scrap News: What has the response been to ScrapU presented by ISRI from the industry?

Rudover: It’s just been incredible. This goes back a few years ago, to a conversation that Robin Wiener and I had that there was a need for education [within the industry]. That conversation sparked where we are today. There’s never been anything like this before. Who would have thought that you’re going to learn scrap metal in your pajamas at home?

Scrap News: How many people would you say, just a rough estimate, have taken the CSMP course?

Rudover: Every time that someone graduates, we get an email that tells us to send their diploma in the mail. We’ve had well over 200 people go through the program. To think that we put together this program and it’s now spreading all over the world, and people are sitting there learning [about] scrap metal, it’s incredible to see.

Scrap News: CSMP is designed for people to really give them a good foundation as they enter the metal recycling industry. Are you getting any comments from people who’ve taken the course?

Rudover: Growing up in this business, the information has always kind of been secretive, let’s say, and so for some reason, people think that knowing the difference between No.1 and No. 2 copper is proprietary. Typically, when you’re doing the job shadowing approach, the senior employee that’s doing the training is giving bits and pieces and not a full description of what the metal is, and how to upgrade it. So, a lot of people have said this program is very refreshing.

“Authentic,” has been another great word here; they’re saying this is just a real authentic program built by people that are passionate about scrap metal. So, that’s exactly what we’re trying to go with here.

Scrap News: You recently started a new venture called Scrap University Kids. Can you tell us more about that? And there’s, I guess, a book coming out along with that.

Rudover: Several years ago, I was working with the Vancouver school board trying to teach the kids about metal recycling. It just irritated me … We should be teaching everyone, specifically children, that metal is recyclable. It has an intrinsic value.

We already know that Scrap University is retraining so many people globally on all the various scrap grades. So, what we’ve decided to do is create online courses for children and their parents to go through together. We’ll break it up into four different courses, where they’ll get a badge or certificate that they’ve passed Level One, then they get Level Two, Level Three, Level Four. And then, how can this really be more of a spread-out approach where we’re reaching everybody.

 

We’re going to create a series of kids’ books, and the first book, coming soon, is “The Girl Who Recycled 1 Million Cans.” It’s about a girl that knows about recycling through her dad—it might be loosely based on my daughter and myself—so she decides to collect a million cans to buy a unicorn.

Throughout her process, she gets her friends involved, and everyone’s now learning about metal recycling, including the school. They go on to collect a million cans, they have $100,000, but they can’t find a store that sells unicorns, and so then they decide to donate that money.

If you look at all the different learning lessons throughout this book, we’re talking about metal recycling, of course; earning money; teamwork; philanthropy; all these different things.

I’m a bit of a music person: Throughout Scrap University, I’m wearing rock’n’roll shirts all the time. On our main character’s t-shirt [in “The Girl Who Recycled 1 Million Cans,” we have the Pearl Jam logo. [The band loves] what we’re doing. It’s just mind blowing that this is happening.

Working with faculty advisers from the industry, ScrapU is developing new courses and Rudover will have more to say about that in the coming months. For more information on ISRI training, contact Paula Pagano, ISRI’s director of education.

Images courtesy of Scrap University. Body photo 1 caption: Brad Rudover. Body image 2 caption: Part of the cover of the forthcoming children’s book “The Girl Who Recycled 1 Million Cans.”

Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; marketing communications; and nonprofit advocacy.