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  • BIR Copenhagen 2024 - General Assembly: Plastics Committee granted Division status as BIR continues to evolve and innovate

BIR Copenhagen 2024 - General Assembly: Plastics Committee granted Division status as BIR continues to evolve and innovate

  • 29 May 2024

“It’s been a truly exceptional year, with lots of great initiatives and new projects,” declared BIR President Susie Burrage OBE of UK-based Recycled Products Ltd in her opening comments to the world recycling organization’s latest General Assembly, held at the Bella Center in Copenhagen on May 28. In all its activities during her 12 months in office, she added, BIR has continued to be guided by “our unwavering commitment to defending free and fair trade for our industry”.

Among its many endeavours over the period, BIR has produced a 75th anniversary booklet that chronicles the rich history of the world organization in representing the interests of the recycling industry and in shedding maximum light on both its environmental and economic contribution. To help crystallize BIR’s stance on key issues, the world body has developed position papers on extended producer responsibility and chemical recycling, with others in the pipeline on trade barriers and critical raw materials. And BIR has also amplified its advocacy efforts with the recruitment of additional policy officers to help monitor the increasing tide of policies and legislation impacting the recycling industry’s material streams.

As part of her special focus on communications, Ms Burrage has been the driving force behind a new member magazine, “The Recyclist”, to offer greater insight into the breadth of BIR’s work. Noting that this glossy publication is being made available to the media, policy-makers and the general public, Ms Burrage added: “Our intention is to reshape the perception of recycling, emphasizing the vital role our industry plays in a sustainable world, modifying our language to reframe our products as raw materials from recycling and highlighting their critical role in the circular economy.”

The General Assembly provided further evidence of BIR’s constant evolution with the elevation of its Plastics Committee to the status of a Division. “We all understand and recognize the critical importance of recycling, especially when it comes to plastics,” said Alicia Garcia-Franco, Chair of BIR’s Articles of Association and Internal Rules Committee. “It is time we acknowledge this importance formally.”

“This sector attracts significant media attention due to the pressing issue of plastics pollution - a matter that is of global concern and currently under discussion in ongoing United Nations negotiations for a global treaty on plastics,” Ms Garcia-Franco pointed out. “BIR has been very active in these discussions, ensuring our voice and expertise are represented.”

Ms Garcia-Franco praised the “outstanding leadership” of the Plastics Committee’s long-standing Chairman Henk Alssema of Vita Plastics in The Netherlands, who now becomes President of the new Division and a member of the BIR Executive Committee. He described Division status within BIR as “an important step to further highlight the significance and importance of plastics recycling”.

Among other key announcements at the General Assembly in Copenhagen, BIR Treasurer Dhawal Shah of India-based Metco Ventures LLP confirmed that BIR had easily exceeded its budgeted surplus in 2023, even bettering the exceptional result for 2022. According to Mr Shah, the current year would be one of investment, notably in a newly-commenced study of the environmental benefits of recycling, with a focus on greenhouse gas emission savings and resource preservation.

Also in Copenhagen, BIR Membership Committee Chairman Fadi Shahrour of Lebanon-based Sharmetal Trading Co. SARL presided over the formal ratification of new member companies and national federations, noting that a total of 162 had joined BIR’s ranks since the previous General Assembly in May 2023.

That Convention in Amsterdam last May had attracted an unprecedented 1600-plus participants but, as Ms Burrage reported, this record was destined to stand for just 12 months as the final attendance figure for the Copenhagen Convention was approaching 1800.