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 850 member companies from the private sector and 40 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 were revised and approved in October 2010. 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 committies


A Word from BIR President Björn Grufman

We will remember 2012 for:

  • The Euro crisis and the recessionary pressures it inflicted on Europe.
  • The stimulation of the US economy by, among other factors, the Presidential Election.
  • The soft landing for the Chinese economy and its recent renewed impetus.
  • The Middle East suffering a variety of serious problems and unrest, most notably in Syria.
  • Several weather-related catastrophes around the globe which, it is widely believed, might have been caused by climate change.

Despite generally unfavourable economic and business conditions in 2012, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) once again substantially increased its membership over the course of the year. Our Spring Convention in Rome was the best attended since our 2008 gathering in Monte Carlo when we celebrated BIR’s 60th anniversary.

During the Rome Convention, our International Trade Council (ITC) convened a workshop on theft and fraud. These are perhaps the biggest problems faced by our industry in recent months - with the possible exception of the difficulties experienced by some of our European members as a consequence of the poor economic climate. As a member of the International Chamber of Commerce, BIR made an agreement with its International Maritime Bureau to share information on theft and fraud, a partnership which hopefully will assist our members to avoid many of these problems.

This is just one of the services offered by BIR - in addition, of course, to organising the world’s best marketplace for our industry twice a year. It is a very good example of how BIR is continuing to introduce and enhance important services that our members can utilise.

In the future, BIR will continue to draw additional members both from existing and new geographical catchment areas; it will represent not only those materials we are recycling today but also the new materials that undoubtedly will be developed. The recycling industry will grow - and that is a necessity for the future. We need to conserve our virgin raw materials and we need to reduce energy consumption, hopefully helping to limit climate change in so doing.

Even though new individuals will join our secretariat as well as our divisional and committee boards, BIR will remain constant in its goal of serving and representing the future leading raw material suppliers, leading their fight for free and fair trade globally.