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BIR in brief: the key materials

The latest BIR world recycling convention and exhibition took place in Shanghai at the end of May. MRW picks out the highlights from the key material division meetings

Ferrous

Prosperity has been replaced by increased pessimism, austerity programmes and low consumption in Europe, with the difficulties multiplied by the growth of protectionism, the division heard. This was supported by reports that India’s ferrous scrap import flow was threatened by the government’s “surprising” decision in May to increase the basic customs duty on iron and steel scrap from 0% to 2.5%. Unofficial scrap export bans in Ukraine and plans to establish limits on scrap exports in South Africa were also reported.

China was predicted to add more than 40 million tonnes of new steelmaking capacity this year. While Europe noted weakened scrap prices in May, with further reductions anticipated in June.

Non-ferrous

Government “meddling” in the form of bans and other restrictions on non-ferrous scrap exports was also raised in the non-ferrous meeting. India has raised the basic customs duty on aluminium scrap imports from 0% to 2.5% and re-imposed a 4% special additional duty of customs on brass scrap imports. Division president Robert Stein listed a number of problems currently confronting the non-ferrous sector, including “difficult margins”, “scrap that is expensive for us to obtain” and thefts of metal from containers.

Paper

Exporters from the USA and Europe must not only put quality at “the top of every business agenda” when supplying recovered fibre to Asia but also increase their focus on the specific quality requirements of the individual receiving country, outgoing Paper division president Ranjit Baxi told delegates.

He added that China’s annual recovered fibre imports topped 30m tonnes for the first time last year, with the growth set to continue. However, an increase in domestic collections meant imports now accounted for around 40% of China’s recovered fibre requirements compared to more than 48% in 2005, Minnie Kong, Associate Economist (Fiber) at RISI said. She added that China’s “Green Fence” policy was “temporarily” hurting exporters in the USA and Europe and also creating problems for mills in China which rely on imports.

Textiles

The very survival of textiles recyclers in various parts of the world was the focus of discussion. Alan Wheeler of the Textile Recycling Association revealed that more than 10% of his organisation’s membership had ceased trading in the last year or so because some textiles collectors “could not afford to continue paying the prevailing market prices” for originals. He noted that used textiles were now “routinely targeted by criminal gangs”.  In France too, collection containers were continuing to “disappear overnight” and some thefts were taking place even during the collection process. While Germany reported how difficult market conditions and unfair competition were adversely impacting the traditional used textiles industry.

Tyres

European tyre sales in the first quarter of this year were markedly lower across all leading categories - passenger car, truck, agricultural and motorcycle - than in the first three months of last year, stemming the flow coming forward for recycling. But latest figures suggest that the tyre recovery rate in Europe has reached an all-time high of 98% compared to 75% as recently as 2004.

For full reports from each of the key sessions including paper, textiles, ferrous, non-ferrous, tyres and shredders, go to MRW.co.uk/BIR

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