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BIR Barcelona Convention: General Assembly: “Challenge misconceptions about what we do,” President urges BIR members

  • 26 May 2022

“Over the years, we have allowed stereotypical views of the industry to prevail and have sold ourselves short in terms of our importance,” stated BIR President Tom Bird in his address to the world recycling organization’s latest General Assembly, held on May 24. “We as an industry, now more than ever, need to convey to the world the essential role we play in protecting the planet from climate change and the environmental damage caused by the extraction of primary raw materials.”

“We must not sleepwalk into ever more restrictive legislation,” he insisted to delegates in Barcelona. “Global free trade in recycled raw materials is essential for a truly global Circular Economy.”

Earlier, Mr Bird had highlighted the potentially “disastrous” consequences of proposals for a significantly stricter EU Waste Shipment Regulation, which would directly affect not only Europe’s exporters but also importing businesses around the globe. “This is not just a European problem,” he underlined. “It’s happening in other parts of the world.”

“I would urge you all to become involved in this debate, to promote the truth about our industry’s exceptional skills and to challenge misconceptions about what we do,” BIR’s President went on to say. “Our unity of purpose and of voice remain crucial if we are to win through.”

Reviewing market developments, he said that 2021 had brought “strong trading conditions throughout the year as the world tried to return to some kind of normality”. Unfortunately, he lamented, that measure of normality had proved to be “short-lived” - not least because of the negative economic and political effects of the Ukraine conflict.

According to BIR Treasurer Andy Wahl, global uncertainties had played their part in persuading the world recycling organization to adopt a “prudent and conservative” budget for 2022, with a projected deficit slightly greater than that recorded for 2021. The continued support of members and the diligence of the BIR secretariat had ensured that expenditure was kept under control and that membership numbers were maintained. Indeed, the General Assembly in Barcelona saw the formal ratification of the 88 new member companies/national associations to have joined since June 2021 - a figure described by Mr Bird as “absolutely fantastic”.

General Assembly approval was received for the BIR’s accounts for 2021 and for the budget proposal for 2022, as well as for a modest increase in membership dues for fiscal year 2023 - the first to be implemented since 2015. Mr Wahl anticipated a more positive outlook by the end of the current year, fuelled in part by the excellent attendance figures for the Barcelona Convention: exactly 1300 participants drawn from more than 600 companies and over 60 countries.

During the General Assembly, a few moments’ silence was observed to mark the recent passing of former BIR President Heinz de Fries and Ferrous Division board member Frank Heukeshoven. Both would be “greatly missed”, said Mr Bird.

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