An extract of three interviews with the most important recycling opinion leaders.
1. Francis Veys, Director General of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)
Question: What lessons have been learned during the last 15 years?
Answer: We need to professionalise the sector even more, to produce an ever better quality of material, and to have experts within our businesses who understand international and supranational regulations. In addition, recycling companies have learned that they must always look for new markets - not only for niche markets in terms of commodities but also for new markets.
Q: And to what extent have views on recycling changed among legislators?
A: There is still very little understanding of what the recycling industry is or does. Their focus goes from collection to reuse - but they forget all about the people in between, the recycling industry, even though we are the main link in the chain.
2. Robin Wiener, President at Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)
Question: What has been the most negative development?
Answer: Between the severe drop in commodity prices and the wave of cancelled contracts, the industry suffered tremendous losses from which it is still recovering. A side-effect of the global recession was the re-emergence of protectionist efforts as a means of controlling the supply and price of scrap commodities for domestic consumers.
Q: What has been the most fundamental change to recycling structures over this 15-yera period?
A: While scrap recycling has long been a global industry, the extent of global trade has increased dramatically over the last 15 yers-both in terms of the volume of scrap traded and the number of players engaged in international trade. The result has been that scrap is far less dependent on local supplies and markets than even before, but is much more vulnerable to world economic conditions.
3. Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment
Question: What is the EU's stance on material leaving Europe?
Answer: Preventing the leakage of raw materials embedded in our waste is definitely something we need to look at. A more efficient recycling industry would help. From the point of view of waste shipments, if illegal shipments are to able to be effectively prevented, we need adequate controls in all member state.