World recycling organisations commence reopening phase

The world’s recycling industry has been preparing changes to operations following the ease of shutdown restrictions across global networks.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has collected feedback on the impact of the virus around the world, with specific regard to how it is affecting the recycling industry.

The BIR said in a statement that plastics recyclers face the challenge of low selling prices for their materials, while suppliers are unable to reduce their own selling prices owing to the high cost of shipping and the impact on availability of the lockdowns in exporting countries.

“The situation will improve only when all countries lift their lockdowns and resume their economic activities as before the COVID-19 outbreak,” the BIR stated.

According to the BIR’s statement, Asia’s demand for recycled materials is at only 30-40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels amid a slowdown in volumes requested by the plastics manufacturing industry and cancellation of overseas orders.

Recycling units in Europe have remained open throughout the crisis owing to their crucial role in waste management. 

BIR stated that Italy’s metals sector reopened on May 4, which will help improve business in the waste sector as operations resume following many weeks of lockdown.

Europe’s recycling industry, especially in Italy, has sustained high costs through guaranteeing to stay open during the lockdown despite very low levels of business.

BIR stated that ASSOFERMET, UNIRIMA and ASSORIMAP, Italy’s three national associations covering recycling commodities, have drafted a letter to the government to reinforce this message and to call for a change of mindset now that the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the essential nature of recycling and of waste management as a whole.

According to the BIR’s research, 73 per cent of recycling centres have remained open to receive materials in France. 

Specific to recovered paper, mills in France are expected to encounter small shortages in May despite ongoing collection and sorting activities. 

In the UK, the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already issued an instruction for the reopening of local authority household waste and recycling centres.

“Reopening could provide a minor boost for some larger metal recyclers with contracts to collect the household metals gathered at these sites,” the BIR stated.

“The BMRA has advocated the reopening of these centres to counter increased dumping of large domestic appliances and to avoid the fire risk posed to metal recyclers by householders concealing small waste electrical and electronic equipment in bins collected from homes.”

Recyclers in the Middle East have returned to operation but the flow of scrap is less than 20 per cent of the norm.

“All ports are operating normally and exports are continuing to move to countries that can accept material,” the BIR stated.

“Social distancing must continue to be observed while manpower allowed on recycling premises is reduced and strict health & safety controls apply.”

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APCO Morning Tea for Global Recycling Day

To show support for recycling in Australia, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has organised a morning tea on Global Recycling Day.

APCO will be hosting a morning tea and will include presentations on design for recycling, sustainable packaging, recycling labels and designing end-of-life packaging.

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Global Recycling Day is an initiative from the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and events will be held on the day to promote recycling in 70 countries. The BIR hopes that the day will help people make at least one change in their behaviour to encourage recycling.

APCO members that have made valuable contributions to recycling systems that minimise the impact of packaging on the environment will be recognised on the day.

The APCO Morning Tea will be held at 10am on 16 March at the APCO Office, Level 4, 332 Kent Street, Sydney.

More information can be found here.

Worldwide events planned for first ever Global Recycling Day

The world’s first Global Recycling Day will take place on 18 March, with cities across the globe signing on to hold events.

London, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Paris, Johannesburg, Delhi, and Dubai will host events to encourage people to change their habits when it comes to recycling.

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The Bureau for International Recycling (BIR) hopes to change the way people around the world think about recycling, changing their mindset from waste to resource.

Individuals attending the events will be invited to pledge to change their habits in at least one way and to sign the BIR’s petition for the day to be recognised by the United Nations.

The hashtag #GlobalRecyclingDay will let people on social media get involved to help people share video and pictures of them celebrating recycling.

Global Recycling Day aims to showcase how critical recycling is to people’s day to day lives.

BIR President Ranjit Baxi said the first global recycling day is a vitally important new date in the global calendar and a joint responsibility for individuals, communities, businesses and leaders.

“To truly harness the power of recycling we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use, and this Day recognises the global nature of the industry and the issue.  It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly,” Mr Baxi said.

“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live,” he said.

“We must unite with those involved in the industry – from workers on waste mountains to the world’s largest businesses – to help them to make the best use of what we dispose of, to make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products, and to stop expecting countries to simply accept recyclables which are difficult and costly to process.”

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