Report: BIR Singapore A Time of Change

Aug 15, 2019, 18:47 PM
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July/August 2019

By Rachel H. Pollack

As they adapt to market disruption caused by scrap import bans, tariffs, and other trade barriers, attendees at BIR’s spring convention also considered how to shift the narrative about recycling to emphasize its role in slowing climate change.

BIR-SingaporeBetween the World Recycling Convention the Bureau of International Recycling (Brussels) held in Singapore May 20-22 and its previous meeting there in 2011, much has changed. Singapore’s skyline has changed, with the addition of the Gardens by the Bay’s concrete and steel Supertrees and two massive domed greenhouses. BIR has changed, with the spring meeting marking the end of two terms of President Ranjit Baxi, founder of London-based J&H Sales (International). William T. (Tom) Bird, chief operating officer of metals recycler Chiho Environmental Group (Hong Kong), was elected his successor; Andy Wahl, president of Atlanta-based TAV Holdings (USA), was named interim treasurer to fill Bird’s previous position until May 2020. The global climate continues to change, which convention speakers emphasized. Most of all, the scrap recycling industry has changed. In 2011, growing demand for scrap commodities and tight supplies were leading to higher prices and expectations for continued market strength. The Non-Ferrous Division discussed whether copper was “the new gold;” recovered paper was seeing record prices; and China was importing 75% of the world’s recovered plastic, according to Scrap’s spring 2011 BIR convention report.

Since that meeting, China has implemented Green Fence, National Sword, and its more recent waves of quotas and import restrictions on scrap, including a stated intention of phasing out all scrap imports by 2020. In response to growing public concern over ocean plastics, the parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal voted to restrict exports of mixed and highly contaminated shipments of plastics starting in 2021. The Trump administration’s tariffs on many countries’ products have led to retaliation and other protectionist trade policies, which likely have contributed to slowing economies in much of the developed world. The uncertainty over Brexit is adding to Europe’s woes. In a press briefing before the conference, Baxi noted the “doom and gloom news around the world” weighing on the scrap recycling industry, although it did not prevent more than 900 recycling industry participants from coming to Singapore to talk about what comes next.

Paper recyclers see demand moving out of China

Participants in the Paper Division’s discussion on recovered fiber markets questioned the wisdom of China’s new and planned import restrictions, which “have a detrimental effect on its own market,” Baxi said. China hopes to replace imports with 15%-20% more domestic collection of recovered fiber, said Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, CEO of Paprec Recyclage (Paris) and Paper Division president, but he thinks 3%-4% growth is more likely because the informal collection network is already very efficient. Alternatively, replacing imported recovered fiber with virgin pulp would contradict China’s stated goal of reducing pollution, pointed out Francisco Donoso, managing director of ALBA Servicios Verdes (Madrid), because “virgin pulp consumption produces more pollution than recycled fiber consumption.”

 Chinese paper firms have invested in facilities in Southeast Asian countries to produce pulp or paper to export back into China, said Dominique Maguin, CEO of La Compagnie des Matières Premières (Paris), and those countries’ imports of recovered fiber are increasing. Other participants noted similar investments in India and the United States, with investments in Europe likely as well. The price of recycled pulp has increased in the last two years because China is importing more pulp and less recycled fiber, Petithuguenin said. Not all the new investment is from Chinese firms making pulp or paper for China, however. Italy, Germany, France, and the United States also have domestic production capacity increasing, the panelists said. Germany has gone from exporting 5 million tons to importing 2 million tons of recovered fiber, Maguin said.

Despite the industry’s initial dismay at the strict contamination limits China started enforcing in 2018, paper recyclers have improved their operations to produce a cleaner product that meets that standard and is more desirable worldwide, Maguin said. Before that change, 6%-8% contamination “was the reality of the market,” said Keith Trower, managing director of Viridor Resource Management (Rochester, England). “This schism forced us to up our game,” he said. Baxi agreed that “the 0.5% target that looked impossible two years ago is the norm today.”

Panelists hoped that higher quality would drive home the difference between scrap and waste, and they were optimistic for the future of their sector. “China put the brakes on importing fiber, but it can’t stop the consumption of paper worldwide,” Baxi said. As Maguin pointed out, “the best way to produce paper is from recycled fiber. It’s much less expensive [than] from wood, less polluting, [and it] saves 800 million tons of [carbon dioxide] per year,” he said. Although the six-month outlook for this sector is “not good,” Baxi said, “in the long term, I’m super optimistic that the product will continue growing in demand,” and paper manufacturing, instead of being concentrated in China, will spread into multiple places across the world.

Nonferrous Looks at Chinese, Malaysian Demand

The nonferrous scrap metal market “has never shifted so fast” as it has in the past two years, said Non-Ferrous Metals Division President David Chiao, president of nonferrous scrap trading for Uni-All Group (Atlanta), at the division meeting, with most of the trade shifting from China to Southeast Asia and India. China looks like it’s out of the scrap trade, but it’s not, he said. Mixed metals are ending up in China after further processing, and its infrastructure development plans in East Africa will mean continued nonferrous demand. He cautioned, however, that if illegal imports do not stop, China could close its doors entirely to scrap imports.

Chiao said his most recent concerns include slowing demand in India, the lack of information about Chinese quotas expected July 1, and confusion in Malaysia about whether imports of insulated copper wire and cables for processing are allowed. Eric Tan, CEO of recycling park SDM Specialty Chemicals (Kedah, Malaysia), spoke further about Malaysian trade policies, laws, and regulations on scrap imports, exports, and processing facilities. Imports have grown tremendously since China implemented its trade restrictions in 2018, he said. Recyclers plan to form the Malaysia Non-Ferrous Metals Association to work with the government to standardize its import policies, most notably how it classifies insulated wire and cable, he said. Unfortunately, illegal, polluting plastics processing facilities have turned Malaysian public opinion strongly against recycling, he said. Thus, recyclers are fighting an uphill battle to show they plan to operate legal and environmentally sound facilities.

Henry Van, a senior analyst for CRU International (Singapore), said interest in aluminum scrap is growing as companies aim to increase their sustainability, as low aluminum prices dampen interest in primary production, and as China’s recent and planned policy changes create an expectation that scrap supply will continue to exceed demand, keeping prices low. With those factors in mind, CRU expects aluminum scrap to grow from 29% to 35% of total aluminum demand by 2028. One short-term threat to that demand is electric vehicles, he noted, which need fewer aluminum castings than internal-combustion-engine vehicles. To improve demand for aluminum scrap, Van said, invest in sorting and processing technologies, especially those that can sort different aluminum alloys. Such investments happen when chief financial officers expect that scrap prices will stay below primary prices for two or three years, he said.

Thomas McMahon, CEO of Dillon Gage Asia (Singapore), noted the essential role of recycling in meeting the world’s future metal needs in a way that creates less waste and pollution and uses less energy than mining. He cited a United Nations estimate that if emerging economies adopt developed-world technologies and lifestyles, the world will require five to nine times more metal than it uses currently.

Indonesian Primary Production Affects Stainless Market

Indonesian stainless steel production is shaking up the Asian market, Vegas Yang, CEO of HSKU Raw Material (Taiwan), said in a market update at the Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee meeting, to the point that China has imposed anti-dumping duties on Indonesian stainless products.

Indonesia’s 181% growth in stainless production from 2017 to 2018 drove the 4.8% global growth in that metal’s production last year, said Robert Messmer, market analyst for raw materials for Steel & Metals Market Research (Pflach, Austria). China’s production, in contrast, was up only 3.1%. The Chinese anti-dumping restrictions will affect Indonesian production going forward, as will delays in the construction of a new Indonesian nickel pig iron plant. Thus, Messmer expects Indonesian production to grow another 30% but global production to grow only 2.7% this year. As Indonesia continues to ramp up its nickel production, that will have a “significant impact on prices,” he said.

The 304 stainless scrap ratio of about 44% has changed little from 2016 to 2018 in Europe, the Americas, India, and China—which is using more stainless scrap—but it’s down significantly, to below 40%, in the rest of Asia due to Indonesian primary production, he said. Using stainless scrap is less polluting and creates less slag than virgin materials; it has lower carbon emissions; and stainless scrap availability is growing, Messmer said. Further, stainless scrap is the lowest-cost option for mills. Prices are already “very competitive” and could decline further, while ferroalloys have “a firm price floor,” he said. The downsides are that the scrap has “lots of impurities,” especially in blends, and a lack of sufficient density can lead to production interruptions while the mill recharges. Most new plants are designed for low-scrap inputs, he said. Trade restrictions and other protectionist measures are another downside, but he noted trade in stainless scrap remains relatively high, at a 20% trade ratio.

U.S. stainless steel production is “on an upswing lately,” Yang said, which is good news for U.S. stainless scrap processors. U.S. melt shop production increased 2% in 2018, to more than 2.8 million mt, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum. U.S. stainless scrap exports in January and February were up 33%, to nearly 72,000 mt, compared with those months in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, due to improved demand from Canada, Taiwan, and India. India continues to show strong demand for stainless steel scrap, and the Middle East has stable demand for stainless end products due to the construction sector, he said.

On the special alloys front, cobalt prices continued their 2018 decline into 2019, falling about 26% in the first quarter, Yang said. He attributed the price decline to China cutting its incentives for electric vehicle production by an average of 50%. But cobalt demand is expected to surge over the next several years, he said.

E-Scrap Discussion Focuses on Trade Barriers

How can the world prevent bad actors from engaging in unregulated processing, polluting, and dumping and support legitimate electronics recycling and trade? The E-Scrap Committee addressed that question in a panel discussion.

Free and fair trade does not mean unregulated trade, noted Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s assistant vice president for international affairs. The World Trade Organization, for one, sets out the rules and regulations for trade in the free market.

A few weeks earlier, the Basel Convention Conference of Parties considered and rejected technical guidelines that would have allowed exports of electronics without prior informed consent for failure analysis or preparation for reuse, Adler said. The concern was that a company could export products ostensibly for reuse but instead dump them, and that’s a real risk, she said. “Every industry has those bad players that don’t follow the rules and create these perception issues that require legislators to put up controls over legitimate trade,” she said. The result is that responsible recyclers end up harmed as well.

The problem of illegal, polluting electronics recycling operations in Southeast Asia is such that large electronics companies refuse to ship anything to Southeast Asia, said Steve Wong, executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association (Beijing). Achieving certification to a management standard and producing high-quality, specification-grade scrap are ways to reassure customers that your company operates responsibly, said former ISRI chair Doug Kramer, president of Spectrum Alloys (Los Angeles).

The Basel Convention defines recycling as a disposal operation, and in the future it could categorize electronics reuse and preparation for reuse as disposal as well, said Ross Bartley, BIR’s trade and environment director. This is a longstanding problem compounded by the global recycling industry not clearly communicating that scrap is not waste, Kramer said. “What [recyclers] do isn’t waste treatment … the first cogent step is to stop talking about [electronic scrap] as waste.”

Audience members voiced concerns about legitimate recyclers in developing countries having to compete with informal processors, who can operate at a much lower cost. Also, countries are using protectionist trade measures to manipulate the markets, said Salam Sharif, CEO of Sharif Metals (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates), and such restrictions—as well as rapidly shifting trade policies—make it difficult to operate profitably or plan for the future, he said.

E-Scrap Committee Chair Thomas Papageorgiou, compliance director of Anamet (Athens, Greece), agreed, noting that electronics processing requires significant investment to produce high-quality products. He wondered whether extended producer responsibility programs can “tip the balance in the right direction.” Josephita Harry, a metal trader at Pan American Zinc (Coral Gables, Fla.), added that diversifying into data destruction and other services can add value to what electronics processors provide. Repairing and reselling electronics also creates greater value, Papageorgiou said, but someone has to recycle the products that can’t be refurbished.

Ferrous looks at scrap’s Environmental Benefits

Maximizing the use of ferrous scrap in steelmaking is “a no-brainer” to improve the environmental performance of the steel industry and is the “most efficient and easiest way” to achieve its emissions goals, said Steven Vercammen, a senior knowledge expert at McKinsey & Co. (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium), at the Ferrous Division’s meeting. Basic oxygen furnaces worldwide already use an average of 20% scrap, he said, but increasing that average to 30% would decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 400 million tons a year by 2040. Increasing the share of steel produced in electric-arc furnaces to 40% (from 29% in 2018) would cut another 400 million tons. Together, those two changes will result in a 20% decline in total carbon in the steel industry, he said. The ferrous scrap supply is likely to increase 60% to 120% between 2030 and 2040, Vercammen said, which would support its additional use in steelmaking.

He also gave an overview of global ferrous scrap dynamics, noting that prices correlate strongly to hot metal raw material costs such as iron ore and coking coal. When looking at price elasticity, he named a threshold value of $300 a ton “for scrap to be an economically viable business.” Below that price, “consumption and supply are quite stable,” he said. When ferrous scrap hits that price, “suddenly supply kicks up and people are making money.”

Greg Schnitzer, Ferrous Division president and vice president of ferrous sales for Schnitzer Steel Industries (Portland, Ore.), read a U.S. market report from George Adams, president and CEO of SA Recycling (Orange, Calif.). Adams noted U.S. mills are seeing softer order books and lower prices, which he attributed to more steel production and competition for market share, slower auto demand, a slowing global economy, and seasonal changes. Domestic ferrous scrap demand was up in the past year but exports and export prices were both down, Adams reported. The recent reduction of U.S. tariffs on Turkish steel is likely to support demand and prices in that country despite Turkey’s weak economy, he added.

Zain Nathani, managing director of the Nathani Group of Cos. (Mumbai), reported on slowdowns in Indian auto and real estate markets. A “large number” of Indian steel mills had declared bankruptcy in recent years, Nathani said, but the country has changed its bankruptcy laws and the mills have found buyers. “Consolidation in the [steel] industry is a step in the right direction to bringing credibility back,” he said. Nathani reported volatile prices but good demand for ferrous scrap in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh that he expected to continue for the rest of the year. Other Ferrous Division board members gave reports from Northern Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Rolf Willeke, the division’s statistics advisor, reported on BIR’s 10th edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures” at the meeting as well. (See “BIR Releases 10th Steel Recycling Report” on p. 16.)

Shredder Committee Raises Alarm on Battery Fires

A dramatic video of a fire kicked off discussion at the Shredder Committee meeting. Torben Norgaard Hansen, CEO of H.J. Hansen (Odense, Denmark), provided the video of the fire at his shredder yard on the waterfront in Copenhagen, Denmark. A lithium battery in an electric bicycle most likely started the fire in the 3,000-mt shredder infeed pile. When the firefighters arrived, they had concerns about using water on the scrap because it might wash contaminants into the ocean, he said. They allowed the fire to burn, and it quickly engulfed the entire pile, which burned for three days.

Hansen cautioned that the fire problem is likely to grow as lithium batteries proliferate in the scrap stream. The facility has since added cameras and temperature sensors to the infeed pile as well as pumps to bring seawater up through the scrap pile if needed. He recommended removing burning material from a larger pile as quickly as possible and attacking the fire with full power immediately, as it’s likely to get out of control within 15 minutes. Other meeting attendees recommended educating and training fire departments on how to respond to such fires, educating suppliers about the risk, managing the size of scrap piles in the yard, or shredding to zero every day—not keeping unshredded scrap in the yard.

Papageorgiou spoke about “the complexity European shredder operators have to face in the coming years” due to the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive. Requirements include having an environmental management system and monitoring, measuring, and limiting emissions, including diffuse emissions. Special techniques apply to appliance shredding and treating auto shredder residue. Alton Scott Newell III, president of Newell Recycling Equipment (El Paso, Texas), updated the committee on the world shredder list. Shredders number 1,158 worldwide, he said, including 317 in China—up from 250 two years ago. There are 322 operating in the United States and 300 in Europe.

Plastic Scrap Restrictions, Chemicals Concern Environment Council

The International Environment Council meeting addressed recent Basel Convention restrictions on plastic scrap exports, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. BIR’s Ross Bartley explained that Annex 9 plastics, those that are “almost free from contamination and other types of wastes” and are in individual polymer streams or mixtures it identifies, can still be traded among Basel parties, although individual countries can ban their importation. Other plastic scrap streams listed in Annex 2, as well as plastics the agreement defines as hazardous in Annex 8, will require the prior informed consent of the importing country unless both countries have an agreement allowing such trade. In the Plastics Committee meeting, he pointed out that the Basel Ban Amendment, which would prohibit the trade of hazardous materials between countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and non-OECD countries, will come into effect if one more country ratifies it.

The United States, which is not a party to Basel, can export plastic scrap only to OECD countries and other countries with which it has agreements. The OECD is considering whether to adopt the Basel restrictions on plastics among its member countries, Bartley added.

ISRI is advocating the use of existing scrap specifications in how the Basel Convention defines recyclable plastic scrap, said Adina Renee Adler. Clarifying that scrap is not waste “is critical now,” she said. “We need to be clear that we’re the recyclers, and what we produce is product, not waste.” She warned that that the restriction on plastic scrap “sets a precedent for Basel to turn its sights on other end-of-life product streams,” such as insulated copper wire. In fact, Bartley said, parties at the recent meeting proposed adding electronic scrap to the hazardous materials list (Annex 2) that would require prior consent for exports.

Bartley also reported on the recent meeting of parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The parties added perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and related chemicals that are known collectively as PFASs, to the list of banned chemicals with certain exemptions. “PFOA is a widely used industrial chemical,” which is a concern for recyclers, he said. “It’s very difficult for us, when we don’t put materials on the market in the first place, to know what’s on [or] in the materials that can come back to the recycling industry.” In Europe, recyclers are caught between Stockholm Convention requirements to eliminate such chemicals and EU requirements to recycle PFOA-containing materials in end-of-life vehicles and electronics. “Recyclers need to be on the right side of this argument,” Bartley said, noting that in the long term, recycling such materials is “not tenable.”

Gloria Lei Yao, director of project development for the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, spoke about the public-private-academic partnership’s four-year project on postconsumer textile recycling. One initiative uses hydrothermal treatment to turn PET and cotton blend fabric into PET material and cellulose powder. Its Garment-to-Garment system is a textile upcycling system entirely contained in a 40-foot shipping container. It consists of ozone and ultraviolet sanitation, manual material preparation, automatic color sorting, “smart storage,” dust controls, and fiber processing. It’s waterless and requires minimum power, she said. The institute also is looking at how to capture microplastics from fabric before products enter the market, she said.

Plastics Committee Seeks Move Toward Circular Economy

Existing business models for the plastics industry are “no longer sustainable,” said Henk Alssema, chairman of Vita Plastics (Leek, Netherlands) and incoming chairman of the Plastics Committee, at that committee meeting. As the industry transitions from a linear economy model to a circular economy, it will experience “related growing pains,” he said. These include “huge investments in recycling capacity” and “large packaging companies working on the sustainability of packaging,” but despite these innovations, many issues still remain, he said.

In the U.S. market report, Sally Houghton, deputy executive director of the Plastic Recycling Corp. of California (Sonoma, Calif.), noted a “greatly reduced” plastic export market, although high-grade material is still finding buyers. The domestic U.S. market was “much healthier,” especially for HDPE and PET, including a “huge surge in interest in PET” from the prospect of California mandating recycled content. For LDPE, clean stretch film and grocery bags are finding markets, but not lower-quality material. Polypropylene is seeing a “strong surge in demand” and has developed its own standard grade separate from mixed bales, she said. Many cities have yet to adjust to the lack of markets for lower grades of plastic, Houghton said, but “it’s not all doom and gloom.” She pointed to investments in chemical recycling and plants that separate mixed plastics 3-7 due to the recognition that “only through greater sortation can there be real value.”

With the U.S.-China trade war, low economic sentiment “almost across the board,” and “recycled polymer not selling well,” for Chinese plastics recyclers, “the margins for recycling are getting less and less,” reported CSPA’s Steve Wong. Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand tightened their controls on scrap plastic imports after Chinese recyclers moved to those countries; Chinese recyclers have now moved to East Asian countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, he noted in his report in the BIR World Mirror: Plastics

Guest speaker Aurore Belhoste, a rigid plastics procurement manager for South East Asia and Australasia for Unilever (Singapore), gave details on Unilever’s commitment to ensure all its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable—and ensure it will contain 25% recycled content—by 2025. Unilever has supported projects to increase recycling in countries that lack formal recycling systems, in mechanical and chemical recycling innovations, and in improving safety, quality, cost, and capacity of plastic recycling facilities. It will be a challenge to use postconsumer resin “across the spectrum” of plastics the company uses for packaging, she said, as that spectrum contains multimaterial assemblies and multilayer laminated plastics.

Rachel H. Pollack is editorial director of Scrap and assistant vice president of publications and strategic foresight for ISRI.



ITC Looks at Image, Reality of scrap Industry

Panelists at the International Trade Council meeting were optimistic about the future despite current trade difficulties, but they acknowledged the need to change the industry’s image. The trade situation has “gotten worse since last year, certainly more confusing,” with China’s anticipated additional restrictions “clear as mud,” said ITC Chairman Michael Lion, president of Everwell Resources (Hong Kong). J&H Sales (International)’s Ranjit Baxi was more sanguine, calling China’s actions “a temporary blip” that will be over in three to six months, saying there is “life after China. We must be thinking of other markets than China.” Don’t count China out, however, Uni-All Group’s David Chiao said, as it continues its Belt and Road Initiative from Vietnam to eastern Africa.

Murat Bayram, a director of European Metal Recycling (Hamburg, Germany), noted the industry’s investments in new capacity and in improved quality. “Quality is key to our success in the future,” he said, adding that “scrap as a raw material will be needed today, tomorrow, and the day after.” Lion echoed that sentiment, pointing out that recyclers provide critical raw materials for the manufacturing supply chain in an energy-efficient way. BIR Director General Arnaud Brunet praised the scrap recycling industry’s resilience, noting that China’s policy changes have forced the industry to create better quality, be more professional, invest in research and development, and produce better products.

An impediment to continued success is the media and public perception that recycling no longer works, Lion said. “How do we get the narrative back where it needs to be?” Brunet emphasized the need to “keep on telling that we are the solution, not the problem.” Lion and Chiho Environmental Group’s Tom Bird noted recycling provides both environmental and economic benefits, and the industry must “promote what we’re doing for business and society,” Bird said. ISRI’s Adina Renee Adler called for people in each country represented at the meeting “to reach out to governments [to say] who we are, what products we’re processing, the value of those products to local industry, the supply chain, and jobs.”

In Europe, efforts of scrap consumers to declare themselves the “true” recyclers are a “clear and present danger” to the industry, Lion said. Consuming facilities that can use either primary or secondary materials have no incentive to invest in more recycling or needed innovation, Bayram explained. He and Spectrum Alloys’ Doug Kramer pointed out that scrap consumers lack recyclers’ expertise in collecting, sorting, and processing scrap for consumption. Each piece of the chain needs more capacity and support, Bayram said. In the Plastics Committee meeting, BIR’s Ross Bartley pointed out that if the definition of recycler changes to no longer encompass the mechanical processing of scrap, exporting scrap for mechanical processing in another country might not be
allowed. BIR will be dedicating time and resources to this battle, Brunet said.


The Business Perspective on Climate Change

It might be easy to ignore “tree huggers” protesting climate change, but when the global finance industry starts to worry about it, that’s another matter. BIR’s keynote speaker, London-based author, strategist, and speaker Gabrielle Walker, cited Bank of England (London) Governor Mark Carney, who in a 2015 speech said “climate change presents significant risks for global financial stability.” Carney outlined direct physical risks that stem from rising global average temperatures, which are a factor in sea level rise, water availability, and extreme weather events; liability risks, such as damage to reputation or litigation; and transition-cost risks, such as if investors pull out of coal companies.

A group of major investment firms recently said it won’t invest in companies that don’t report their climate risks, Walker said. That move “puts the recycling industry in the spotlight” because using recycled materials can reduce manufacturers’ emissions, she pointed out. The recycling industry is already fixing the problem, she said. “Just do it more, faster. Look for opportunities” such as advocating design for recycling.

The private sector, more than governments or nongovernmental organizations, will be the key to solving the climate change problem, Walker said. CEOs can think past the electoral cycle and can work across borders in ways other entities cannot, she explained, whereas “regulators don’t necessarily make good decisions when they’re on their back foot and playing to the gallery.” Interest in climate change and in ocean plastics can be a great business opportunity for recyclers, she said. “Leadership from business will be part of the solution.”


WCRA Reviews Global Recycling Day Achievements

BIR’s World Council of Recycling Associations meeting focused on the activities of the second Global Recycling Day March 18. More than 25 events, both official and unofficial, marked the occasion around the world. Of the 275 media hits, 37% cited the importance of recycling, said J&H Sales (International)’s Ranjit Baxi, who is the founding president of the newly formed Global Recycling Foundation. All told, the outreach touched 687 million people, he said, and his goal for 2020 is to reach 1 billion people. BIR established the nonprofit foundation to connect with other foundations and nongovernmental organizations and to raise money for additional activities so the industry can “sing our own song” and change world opinion about recycling, Baxi said. Leaders of other trade associations, including ISRI Chair Brian Shine, shared how their organizations marked the day around the world. Visit

Recyclers at the spring BIR meeting discussed what’s next after China and how to position the industry as a response to climate change.

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