About BIR

Founded in 1948, BIR was the first federation to support the interests of the recycling industry on an international scale. Today, BIR represents over 760 member companies from the private sector and 36 national associations in more than 70 countries. Together, these members form the largest international recycling federation.

The federation provides a dynamic forum for its members to share their knowledge and experience. It serves as a platform to establish successful business relations and to promote recycling among other industrial sectors and policy makers.

BIR is a non-profit organisation under Belgian law. Their statutes (Articles of Association) and Internal Regulations (including Guidelines for Chairpersons) were revised and approved in February 2019. The registered office is currently headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Our Mission

The Bureau of International Recycling promotes materials recycling and facilitates free and fair trade of recyclables in a sustainable and competitive world economy.

Other key goals of BIR and its members are:

  • To speak as one voice representing the international recycling industries globally;
  • To raise public awareness of their economic and environmental contributions such as the reduction of energy consumption and of greenhouse emissions;
  • To promote free trade, the environmentally sound management of resources and the use of recycled materials worldwide;
  • To encourage manufacturers to design products with a better understanding of the possibilities for recycling;
  • To provide its members with a proper forum to discuss issues of importance to the international recycling community;
  • To provide its members, through arbitration, with a fast and efficient means to resolve commercial disputes.

Areas of Work

BIR offers its members timely information about the international recycling markets, their legislative context and the latest technologies. Its work is structured according to the following commodity divisions:

and commodity committees


A word from BIR President Tom Bird

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Dear members of BIR,

As your newly elected President, I embrace the future with great optimism.

I look forward to working with our Director General Arnaud Brunet and the excellent team in Brussels as well as my colleagues in the various Commodity Divisions and Committees, whose time and commitment to BIR is greatly appreciated.

I want to see BIR cement itself as the “global recycling organization”, the voice of the whole recycling industry.

For BIR to flourish and continue to grow, we - as an organization - need to listen to our members and service their needs. We need to widen our membership base across all sectors of the recycling industry. We need to ensure that members feel they are receiving value for money.

In these challenging macro-economic times with regulation changes and uncertainty in our most important markets, trade wars and subsequent market volatility, it is vital that our members are kept abreast of all important developments.  They must have the knowledge and confidence that BIR is at the forefront lobbying and representing their interests. This is such an important function for BIR.

In the current environment, the word “recycling” is ever so important. Everywhere, we see on the international and local news channels, social media and so on reports of polluted oceans, polluted air, thousands of acres of forest destroyed, vast areas of landscapes devoured by mines. Recycling is a major solution to these problems – recycling the plastic that pollutes the oceans, reducing emissions by recycling our metals that are used in the manufacture of steel and other products produced with less energy, recycling paper that reduces the need to destroy forests, and promoting EAF production that relies on recycled steel scrap rather than integrated mills that rely on mined ore. These are the messages that BIR as the international recycling federation must continue to promote. To educate the world of the important role our industry plays in the preservation of our planet.

BIR needs to encourage the younger members and executives of the industry to be more involved. I appreciate that during difficult times, costs are a focus, but I reach out to the decision-makers of the industry to recognize the value BIR brings to the industry and support the stars of the future industry to be active in the organization. We need fresh ideas and development. I remember at one time I was a young man sat out there in the audience looking at all these ‘old guys’ up on the platform. Now I am one of the old guys and I am sending this invite out to you youngsters, to put your hand up and become more involved.

BIR is yours, ladies and gentlemen. It is your organization. I have been honoured to represent and serve BIR’s over 750 member companies and national federations in the coming years. Myself and the team in Brussels are here for you.

Without your support and membership, BIR cannot flourish. It is more important than ever that we continue to increase the profile and influence of BIR, for the benefit of our members and the recycling industry as a whole.

Tom Bird
BIR President

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