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Recycled steel: the solution, not the problem

Welcome to this Convention edition of the BIR Ferrous Division’s World Mirror. Firstly, I would like to introduce you to BIR’s new advocate for our division, Trade and Environment Policy Officer Daniel Pietikainen. We are pleased to have Daniel on board and he has already proved very helpful in several areas, so please make sure to introduce yourselves to him in Copenhagen.

It would appear that the subdued ferrous market is currently in search of more positive sentiment, with both demand and price levels suffering for furnace-ready feed and finished products alike. With that in mind, BIR’s Ferrous Board thought it would be an excellent time to compare global trade patterns outlined in the valuable data compiled by our eminent Statistics Advisor Rolf Willeke with the insight of an expert market analyst. We are pleased to confirm, therefore, that Atilla Widnell of Navigate Commodities has agreed to give a presentation in Copenhagen which will provide an insightful overview of the world recycled steel markets. This will include: an exploration of how supply and demand have evolved in key recycled steel markets over the past year; the market impacts of disruption to shipments in the Red Sea/Suez Canal; and the effects (if any) of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism on European ferrous markets.

Alongside careful consideration of the factual data, we will hear first-hand Atilla’s take on the current markets and his projections for the direction and momentum of recycled steel prices in 2024. Please don’t miss his fascinating insights into the future direction of the market in terms of demand, logistics and price.

While pondering all the above, I wondered if it wasn’t time for reflection on how our products are viewed on the world stage. On my recent trip to the Recycled Materials Association (formerly ISRI) Convention in Las Vegas, it was suggested that very few people - including those in posts of authority - understood what we do as an industry. Many were amazed that recycled steel is, and has been for many hundreds of years, reformed and reconstituted over and over again into many items used by us all on a daily basis. John Sacco and his team’s excellent Repurposed series on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEb5O5omh-M) clearly emphasizes recyclers’ vital role in the metal production process; indeed, it is incumbent on all metal recyclers to educate and promote the importance of our industry. We are the solution, not the problem.

Supporting the use of the term “recycled steel” to describe our products, as highlighted in Rolf’s report to this Mirror and underscored by the rebranding of ISRI to ReMA, is extremely helpful in elevating the importance of our recycled, furnace-ready material. These small changes to the terminology we use on a daily basis can have a big impact on how our industry is perceived by the outside world. So please help, play your part and support this important initiative.

We are also following, with increasing interest, the latest podcasts on “The Green Steel Challenge” (https://greensteelchallenge.com) and, through fellow BIR Ferrous Board member George Adams, will be joining this fascinating debate with the first interview with a metal recycler due to be broadcast later in the year. It is true to state that, to make a truly “green steel”, you need recycled material if you are serious about decarbonization and, in turn, a more sustainable world. I look forward with interest to hearing what George has to say, as one of the world’s foremost metal recyclers, and I hope you get the opportunity to listen to the debate.

I would like to thank my Ferrous Board colleagues for their informative Mirror reports, which I hope you will appreciate reading. If you are a member of BIR and think you could contribute your skills and expand our geographical representation and coverage, we would welcome hearing from you. Global regions of particular interest include Asia, Europe, Turkey and South America.