International, News

Global recycling sector under pressure

As Australians adapt to a new social and economic order, the global scrap recycling industry is understandably, slowing down. The ambassadors of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) have compiled a wrap-up of how each country under siege is adjusting.

According to BIR, the situation in the United States of America varies from state to state. California has shut down all non-essential industries, but recycling is considered to be essential as it is an important link in the supply chain. However, business is very slow. It is possible to buy and sell but exporting is very tough with no availability of containers.

Smelters closed in Italy

In Europe, Italy has closing smelters as part of the strategy to control the pandemic by shutting all non-essential companies. Owing to a shortage of workers in France, most small to medium-sized businesses are closed. Large enterprises are partially open, with only 40 percent of yards in operation. While there is no more retail business, they are being supplied by those production plants still in operation.

In the UK recycling has been included in the category of critical industries and it appears that larger operators saw a flurry of activity last week, as smaller counterparts attempted to turn stock into money. Some merchants have closed their doors.

In Saudi Arabia, there has been a shift to stringent measures being applied to recycling plants between 7am and 6pm, with a curfew in place for the intervening hours. Factories and ports are still open.

The United Arab Emirates  is still operating yards in Sharjah operation however the report said that business is slow for both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Local mills are struggling in terms of both taking deliveries and payments, while export activity is minimal as the buyers are not there.

Yards are closed in Kuwait and in Lebanon, although the latter’s ports are still open. For the Middle East in general, policy changes are coming daily, building up the uncertainty over April deliveries and supplies worldwide.

India comes to a halt

In India, the situation is dire with Mumbai in total lockdown and no-one can leave their home in many parts of Gujarat. The government had announced a raft of closures, including stopping trains up to March 3. Pakistan, meanwhile, is in partial lockdown and yards are not working normally.

There is no official lockdown in Singapore and while plants are technically open for business. Practically nothing is happening because most workers are either Chinese, who haven’t returned since the Chinese New Year holidays, or Malaysians who can’t return because of border closures. There is also massive logistical disruption to container shipments.

Malaysia is effectively in lockdown regarding import cargoes, with only essential goods permitted. With recycling products not categorised as essential, imports are not being allowed at present.

BIR is the only global recycling industry federation representing around 800 companies and 35 affiliated national recycling associations from 70 different countries. Its members are world leaders in the supply of raw materials and a key pillar for sustainable economic development.

Ambassadors are appointed by the president and represent the organisation around the world. Working on a voluntary basis, they provide information about BIR activities in their respective working regions.