Posted on 04/11/2009 in category Textiles



Brussels,4th November 2009

BIRAutumn Round-Table Sessions
Amsterdam,26-27 October 2009

Impactof crisis not as hard as anticipated

Despite high energy costs and paymentproblems for a number of African customers, “2009 has not hit thetextiles recycling industry as hard as we feared it would”, BIRTextiles Division President Olaf Rintsch of Germany-based TextilRecycling K&A Wenkhaus GmbH told the latest Round-Table inAmsterdam.

Several market reports highlightedimpacts of the global economic crisis: for example, the division’sHonorary President Klaus Löwer of Germany-based Hans LöwerRecycling GmbH noted that collections of originals have fallensteeply in Japan because people are throwing away fewer clothes; andSauro Ballerini of Italy pointed to a drop in wiping cloth demandresulting from reduced industrial activity. In France, meanwhile,collection container yields are down 16% on last year.

Providing a perspective on the USmarket, Eric Stubin of textile recycling association SMART reported adecline of around 10% in rag prices over the last two to three monthsas well as “softening” demand from the export market. LarryGroipen of ERC Wiping Products Inc. in the USA then warned ofpotential disruption to exports of used clothing and footwear as aresult of efforts to develop new standards within the InternationalOrganization for Standarization (ISO).

The new eco-tax scheme in Franceattracted significant attention at the Round-Table, with MehdiZerroug of Framimex in France explaining that the first of the levyfunds were transferred in July of this year. Reading out a statementon behalf of Boer Group Holding, Rainer Binger of Germany said this“subsidy programme to stimulate the collection of textiles” couldpotentially deprive “healthy sorting companies with strongtraditional grading” of their established markets.

Also on the issue of nationalinitiatives, Hans Brak of Handelsonderneming Brak BV in theNetherlands noted that the Dutch government had introduced a NationalWaste Plan in 2008 which sought to intensify the collection of usedtextiles. Fearing this might lead to serious problems such as a majorincrease in lower-grade volumes, domestic association VerenigingHerwinning Textiel (VHT) has brought together all interested partieswithin the textiles chain to discuss the issues raised.

VHT’s Secretary Martijn van Leeuwenthen outlined a number of possible options for helping to secure theindustry’s future, including finding new applications for the lowergrades of used textiles and arriving at more efficient processingmethods for these same materials. In addition, the speakeracknowledged that consideration may be given to some kind of producerresponsibility levy. In this context, experience gained in France -both positive and negative - will prove valuable, he added.

The guest presentation from lawyer DrOliver Bertram of Germany-based Kleiner Rechtsanwälte looked atthepotential for minimum wage legislation to impact on the recyclingsector, with particular reference to developments in his home countryand several other European nations. Referring to earlier discussionof the link between recycling and waste legislation, he concluded:“So long as your primary business is waste, you will not be able toescape this minimum wage.”