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Industry gathers in Monte-Carlo as Stern hails recycling heroes

One of the worlds foremost authorities on climate change heaped praise on the recycling industry for its enormous environmental contribution at the  spring convention of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).
Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentford, author of the high-profile Stern Report on climate change, told delegates to the BIR General Assembly in Monte-Carlo that, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recyclers should be the heroes of this story. He added: You have got a splendid story and I would encourage you very strongly to tell it.

Earlier, Lord Stern had warned that inaction on carbon dioxide emissions could lead to global temperatures ending this century five degrees higher than they were in 1850, resulting in elevated sea levels as well as storms, flooding and droughts. He said a global carbon trading scheme and an end to deforestation could make a valuable long-term impact on emission levels: The really fast stuff will come through energy efficiency and that is where recycling is so important.

At the subsequent meeting of the International Environment Council (IEC), UK-based Metal Interests managing director Roger Brewster reported on research conducted at Imperial College which indicated that recycling of seven metals (aluminium, copper, ferrous, lead, nickel, tin and zinc) and paper saved an estimated 551 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to 1.8% of worldwide fossil fuel emissions. 

Recyclers attending the IEC meeting were also cheered to hear confirmation from Henrik Harjula of the OECDs Environment Directorate/National Policies Division that he would like to see non-hazardous recyclable materials exempted from waste legislation and covered only by those controls applicable to normal transactions.

A number of initiatives were announced at the Monte-Carlo convention. For example, it was confirmed that BIR would create a statistical observatory to measure the recycling industrys achievements as well as its carbon footprint. The world body also intends to form an International Trade and Arbitration Council to help it adopt a more proactive approach to measures regarded as harmful to free trade, such as duties and import/export bans.

Meanwhile, the board of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division is to engage the services of the Commodity Research Unit in a bid to help the industry monitor more closely the movement of its pro-ducts. This would serve as a reporting tool and as a means of deciding where the emphasis of our efforts needs to be placed now and in the future, said div-isional president Robert Stein of US-based Alter Trading.

The divisional meetings in Monte-Carlo also generated the customary wealth of feedback on market conditions for key recyclables. At the Ferrous Division, contributors spoke of the steep price increases witnessed in both the scrap and steel sectors in recent months. Divisional vice-president Anton van Genuchten of TSR in Germany added: We believe the highest prices for scrap in 2008 will be achieved during the second half.

Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee chairman Michael Wright of UK-based ELG Haniel Metals pointed to emerging signs of caution in the domestic stainless steel market. UK production fell 6% to 350,000 tonnes last year but was expected to jump 13% to approach 400,000 tonnes this year, he said.

As for other recyclables, Terry Ralph of the Textile Recycling Association (TRA) and Recyclatex confirmed that the TRA was talking to Defra about the eco-levy to be implemented shortly on new clothing and shoes introduced on to the French market. The money raised through the levy scheme will be used to boost Frances textiles collection and sorting performance, as well as  support research into the best outlets for these materials.

In the Paper Division meeting, BIR world president Dominique Maguin of France was named the first winner of a new award for lifelong services to the paper recycling industry. Divisional president Ranjit Baxi of UK-based J&H Sales International said the award was intended to honour the champions of our industry and gain recognition for paper recycling.

Other key points from the BIR Paper Division meeting in Monte-Carlo will be covered in MRWs next paper report

Image caption: Silver lining: Stern told delegates that recyclers were making heroic efforts to combat climate change

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