The Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) joined a chorus of other associations and business owners expressing concern over circular restrictions on trade in raw materials on offer in Europe and elsewhere.
The BIR declares its support for the recent initiative of its European member federation EuRIC concerning the potential impact of the next European regulation on waste shipments on the free and fair world trade in “recycled raw materials (RMR)”.
EuRIC, in an open letter to executives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council, called for a clear distinction in the legal regime between âproblematic waste streamsâ and CMAs with commercial values long established.
Over 260 European companies and national recycling associations have co-signed the EuRIC letter, unintended but potentially negative consequences of a general restriction on RMR exports.
âAt the height of the pandemic in Europe, the recycling industry was almost universally seen as ‘essential’ and was therefore allowed to continue to operate,â said BIR President Tom Bird. âIt is only by maximizing the substitution of primary raw materials by raw materials from recycling that we will succeed in optimizing the climate change mitigation effects of recycling. No circular economy can be seriously considered and achieved without a fluid global market for raw materials from recycling. “
The subject was also in the spotlight at the recent BIR meeting on the Non-ferrous Division and during the round table “The Challenge” which took place at the end of October in Brussels.
At the Non-Ferrous division meeting, Murat Bayram, who works in Germany for UK-based European Metal Recycling (EMR), said that using recycled raw materials in production processes allows save resources, energy and reduce CO emissions2 while international trade ensures that these materials “get where they are needed”. He also asked: âAre other countries outside the EU not entitled to sustainable production?
As the EU examines the scrap metal trade on the outbound side, the Malaysian government has proposed barriers on the inbound side. Eric Tan of the Malaysia Non-Ferrous Metals Association said the country’s proposed guidelines for importing scrap metal “would do more harm than good to the entire non-ferrous metal industry in Malaysia.”
In addition to the problematic purity thresholds (well beyond what any ore can offer), Tan said the proposed pre- and post-shipment inspection policies would further hurt Malaysia’s competitiveness in terms of scrap supply. .
According to Bayram, âthe trade in recycled raw materials needs to be encouraged much more strongly to enable sustainable production all over the world. In short, less trade leads to less recycling, more trade leads to more recycling.
Bayram also participated in the roundtable âThe Challengeâ, with Michael Lion, President of the BIR International Trade Council; Mark Sellier of Hong Kong-based Global Metals Network; and George Adams of SA Recycling in the United States.
Lion called existing and looming trade barriers an existential threat facing BIR members that are based on ill-conceived ideas. Sellier said processors and scrap metal traders are a crucial part of the raw material supply chain who have gained greater recognition and support for their roles rather than regulatory hostility. Adams focused on workplace culture and the empowering steps companies can take to foster career paths in the recycling and converting industry.