As scrap companies return their shoulders to the wheel after a prolonged series of holidays affecting most parts of the world, a significant number report slower-than-normal business conditions despite the generally upward trajectory of the LME.
Although we should all remain hopeful that a new year will bring better fortunes, we must also acknowledge that the mere act of flipping over the calendar from 2022 to 2023 has not eliminated many - or even any - of the problems and challenges we faced towards the end of last year. To name just a few, energy prices have edged from their peaks but bills remain high and gas/electricity availability is not always as we would wish it to be; inflation remains a thorn in the side and is clearly deterring public expenditure, forcing industry - and notably the key automotive sector - to implement production cuts along the pipeline; and labour supply in many countries is simply failing to keep pace with demand.
Even in India where there has been strong GDP growth, the generally good economic vibes have not filtered down to our area of business.
Europe’s legislators have certainly not given us that early-year feelgood factor: the resolution adopted on January 17 with regard to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation promises an even heavier bureaucratic burden on the recycling industry in the guise of stricter inspection/audit requirements. It seems baffling that this should be happening at a time when the recycling sector is gaining ever greater recognition as the environment’s best industrial partner.
As I said above, recyclers should always bring a healthy measure of their famed optimism and resilience into any new year. And if we need encouragement, we can certainly turn our gaze to the hugely important Chinese market. The world economy needs a strong China and so the dismantling of its zero-COVID policy should bring some welcome impetus.