BIR continuing to operate and innovate on all fronts amid turbulent times


These separate conversations – with BIR President Tom Bird and Susie Burrage of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) – would enable members to connect more deeply with the BIR leadership and gain a fuller understanding of the challenges faced by the world recycling association, Mr Lion explained. 

Mr Bird acknowledged that despite the many profound negatives surrounding the pandemic, it had also served to highlight the breadth of BIR’s activities and the importance of being a member. “BIR is not just about conventions,” he stated. “Members need to understand the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes on behalf of the sector.” 

Since the start of the Coronavirus crisis, BIR had organized regular online calls with national associations and had continued to produce its Mirror publications in order to keep members fully informed on issues of direct relevance to their businesses. “Pandemic or no pandemic, BIR continues to fight hard for our industry on all fronts,” he underlined.

In his earlier opening address, Mr Bird had highlighted some of the world recycling association’s key activities, not least its constant advocacy work to defend the interests of the entire recycling sector at national, international and supranational levels, including at the United Nations and OECD. This ensured that the voices of recyclers, both large and small, “are taken into account when decisions are made that affect the whole industry”. He stressed: “Regulators are still regulating, so it is essential that it’s ‘business as usual’ as far as BIR is concerned.” 

He also pointed to BIR’s ever-growing Statistical Observatory containing latest facts and data to support arguments in favour of recycling, and to BIR’s central role in the launch of the Global Recycling Day initiative. BIR’s commitment to innovation was also exemplified, he said, by the programme for the coming week which featured not only commodity webinars and a virtual recycling exhibition but also, and very importantly, a platform for networking. 

Mr Bird, whose vast industry experience includes working for a family business, a multi-national and a Chinese company, identified “stop/start economies” and “being unable to plan” as key challenges amid the current pandemic. “A lot of smaller operators can’t get credit insurance or, if they can, (the cost) is prohibitively high,” he said. And while all companies would be affected in some way, “those businesses carrying large amounts of debt are probably going to find it the toughest”.

While Mr Bird praised the proven resilience of the recycling industry over many decades, Mr Lion pointed to a macro-economic picture suggesting “an awful lot worse to come”, contending that some businesses “might simply just disappear”. However, he added, re-investment in recycling had always tended to happen quickly once economies started to recover. 


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