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The last couple of weeks have been very challenging in the Benelux market. The most important and positive topic is that, within this region, we are almost back to pre-COVID lifestyles; as far as rules and regulations are concerned, people are much more at liberty and have many more opportunities to interact with each other as in the days before the pandemic.

More and more people are returning to their offices although working from home seems unlikely to disappear completely. More challenging has been the rising costs of electricity and gas - costs that might come ever more to the forefront and that consumers/processors will have to take into account in their day-to-day activities. Now that COVID is slowly moving to the background, this is one of the topics that you read about in newspapers and hear about on television in the Benelux market.

As for the current situation in Ukraine, this might also impact the increase in working costs and, more importantly, is already having a direct effect on the non-ferrous markets. Prices have jumped up even further, intensifying the cash crunch as working capital comes under even more pressure now that the same units are becoming yet more expensive.

On top of this, the industry had already been hindered for many months by logistical difficulties and the Ukraine conflict is not improving the situation. On the contrary, extra controls are being implemented at the various Benelux ports in terms of paperwork and container contents prior to release, thus creating additional delays. This is pushing recyclers more towards finding local solutions for their recycling units.

Demand is generally good for non-ferrous products but availability seems somewhat off.