Posted on 11/06/2008 in category General

 

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 11thJune 2008

2008World Recycling Convention &

BIR’s60thAnniversary Celebration

MonteCarlo, 2-4 June 2008

GeneralAssembly:

Acknowledgementof environmental contribution of recycling industry

 

The enormous environmentalcontributionof the recycling industry - not least in saving carbon dioxideemissions - was underlined by a stellar array of guest speakers atthe 2008 Spring Convention of the Bureau of International Recycling(BIR). The event was attended by an all-time high of more than 1300delegates on the occasion of the world body’s 60thbirthday.

At the BIR General Assemblyheld atMonte-Carlo’s Fairmont Hotel on June 3, keynote speaker LordNicholas Stern of Brentford outlined the dangers of greenhouse gasemissions and declared: “You should be the heroes of this story.”The 500 million tonnes-plus of carbon dioxide equivalent that therecycling industry saved from entering the atmosphere each year had avalue of some US$ 20 billion - “a very significant contribution”,declared the author of the world-famous Stern Report on climatechange.

Earlier, Lord Stern hadexplained that,without immediate global action, there was a “50/50 probability”of temperatures ending this century some 5 degC higher than thoserecorded in the year 1850. This increase in temperature would resultin storms, flooding, droughts and raised sea levels which, in turn,would “completely re-draw where you can live”, he told thehundreds of delegates present. “It would involve a massive movementof people.”

Early worldwide politicalagreement wasrequired, he argued, to “transform the way we do things”. Energyefficiency could make an immediate positive impact “and that iswhere recycling is so important”. The implementation of a globalcarbon trading scheme and a halt to deforestation were also vitalcomponents in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

Lord Stern welcomed BIR’sdecision toset up a “Statistical Observatory” to measure and compare itsachievements, and also to measure its carbon footprint. This researchwould generate “some very powerful statements” about therecycling industry’s “enormous” environmental contribution,Lord Stern insisted. And he went on to declare: “You have got asplendid story and I would encourage you very strongly to tell it.”

In addition to the creationof the“Observatory”, BIR World President Dominique Maguin also notedthe organisation’s intention to form an International Trade Councilwhich would adopt a “proactive” approach to issues damaging tofree trade such as the imposition of duties and import/export bans.

The General Assembly inMonte-Carloalso heard of the commitment to recycling of His Serene HighnessPrince Albert II of Monaco, who had extended his patronage to the BIRSpring Convention. His representative Robert Calcagno, Minister forPublic Works, the Environment and Urban Development, explained thatPrince Albert had instituted “dramatic” changes aimed at boostingthe principality’s recovery and recycling rate from 6% in 2007 tomore than 20%. Paper and glass collections had already leapt 42% and50% respectively. Mr Calcagno went on to praise the “dynamism” ofthe recycling industry’s activities.

A similarly upbeatassessment of therecycling industry’s environmental importance was delivered byguest speaker Professor Philippe Chalmin, Chairman of the CyclOpecommodity market research institute in France. He described highcommodity prices as a “gift from heaven” that would fostergreater wisdom in resource utilisation and therefore increasedrecycling.

On another positive note,outgoing BIRTreasurer Anthony Bird of the UK-based Bird Group of Companiesdeclared that the organisation was now “in the strongest financialposition it has ever been in” after “the very best year onrecord” in 2007. Mr Bird, who has been made a Lifetime HonoraryMember of BIR, is to be succeeded as Treasurer by Björn Grufmanof M. V. Metallvärden AB of Sweden.

An Honorary Membership wasalso awardedto Alfred Nijkerk, the only recycler still alive who was present atthe creation of BIR in 1948. A metal recycler for many years, MrNijkerk has also made a considerable contribution to the promotion ofrecycling as a trade journalist and freelance writer.

For further information pleasecontact: 
Elisabeth Christ
BIR Communications Director
Tel: + 32 2 627 57 70 
e-mail: bir@bir.org