Update from BIR Ambassadors - February 2022

  • 28 February 2022

Salam Sharif 20222

Just as most countries were untangling themselves from COVID restrictions and were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, geopolitical tensions in Eurasia have ruffled financial markets over recent weeks and have contributed to a 20% increase in oil prices since the start of 2022.

As experienced over the decades, oil and gas prices are indicators for commodity prices. In the wake of Russia’s move into Ukraine, oil prices crossed the US$ 100 per barrel barrier on looming short supplies. Sanctions imposed on Russia (which accounts for 25% of the world’s natural gas exports, of which 40% is exported to the EU and two-thirds of the latter to Germany alone) will take their toll on metals prices as the crisis transmits itself across global markets. Copper may follow sentiment whereas aluminium prices are likely to be affected by the fact that Russia has a 10% share of the metal’s world supply.

In addition to price challenges, changes in legislation and increasing levels of regulation will continue to be the biggest threat to our businesses in the coming years. Unfortunately, metal recycling is often inhibited by the historical focus on policies for hazardous waste management rather than on policies that centre on the recovery of metals as a resource. Waste classification within the UK is a hot topic: studies are currently being undertaken by the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) to challenge the Environment Agency’s stance that shredder residue should be classified as hazardous waste.

If adopted, recently-proposed amendments to the EU waste shipment regulation would restrict exports to OECD and non-OECD countries, impinging greatly on global free trade for our sector. Within Europe at present, there is no differentiation between untreated waste and our recovered, processed raw materials from recycling. Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, EU policy-makers are still showing a reluctance to make this distinction.

Returning to the theme of high metal prices, one of the consequences is an increase in financing costs, risk and inflationary pressures, including the “irreversible inflationary cost” of shipping. None of these will help us increase our margins.

Despite less travelling, more virtual meetings and getting used to working from distance, our Ambassadors have been active in promoting BIR on social media and have taken part in interviews to promote the Circular Economy, recycling in general and the BIR in particular.

The BMRA’s Susie Burrage took part in a broadcast on Global Recycling Day while Sharif Recycling Group was interviewed by “My Scrap” (which has a 16,000-member platform), during which the Circular Economy and metals transformation from end-of-life to new life were demonstrated via a facilities cruise. Such promotion of fourth-generation entrepreneur ventures will set the stage for the latest generation to join the recycling arena through BIR.

New candidates for BIR membership include Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) - the largest aluminium producer in the MENA region and the fourth largest in the world, which is currently embarking on a 150,000 tonnes per year recycling facility. EGA will participate in the BIR Convention to be staged in Dubai this October and will bring along several delegates.

While I would urge all of us to try to bring more members on board, our Ambassadors have also been keeping in close touch with existing members to explain the many compelling reasons for them to retain their membership of BIR.

We believe our Barcelona Convention in May will attract a great turn-out, not least as a result of promotion on social media in close co-ordination with the BIR’s Convention Committee and our Ambassadors’ networking platforms.

To those of you attending the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ Convention and Exposition later this month, please be a good Ambassador by promoting BIR’s 2022 Conventions in Barcelona and Dubai. And keep up the good work.

Salam Sharif
Sharif Metals Group DMCC
Chairman of the BIR Ambassadors Committee

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