BIR World Recycling Convention - Opening Session: The Challenge (Special Convention Edition)
by Michael Lion, Chairman of the BIR International Trade Council and host of “The Challenge”
Yesterday’s live opening session of the BIR World Recycling Convention (online) featured their renowned groundbreaking show “The Challenge” in a special convention edition with its unique format addressing topical and crucial issues of immediate interest, presenting them with a conversational cutting-edge chat show approach. The host, Chairman of the International Trade Council Michael Lion (Everwell Resources Ltd, CHN) and resident co-anchor contributors Mark Sellier, Communications Chair (Global Metals Network, CHN) and Murat Bayram, Convention Chair (EMR Ltd, GBR), engaged in three separate segments that yet again truly nailed it in outstandingly insightful, engaging and informative exchanges with their stellar set of invited guests. As host Michael Lion explained, the show seeks to get behind the minutia to delve into the back stories that are so essential to BIR members, identifying and in a user-friendly fashion gaining an appreciation of the major critical factors that will both impact on their strategies and corporate pocket books.
The two respective highly prescient topics formed the basis of the conversations: “Regulations and Protectionism”- addressed by the first two guests, and “Chronic Container Chaos”- addressed by the third guest.
First up was Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of EuRIC: his superbly articulated depiction of the immense regulatory “tsunami” of potential new “directives” from the EU in the wake of the EU Commission’s Green Deal and its implications and impositions painted an alarming set of challenges for the European recycling sector. Influencing the perceptions and thus approaches by politicians and regulators to these matters is manifestly a formidable and vast task. Mr. Katrakis’s greatest concern and focus was on the impending new waste regulations initially set to be promulgated by this June but now deferred until the autumn. Only with free movement of recyclable raw materials could a win/win solution be achieved, he opined as the specter of possible introduction of protectionist export restrictions stalked the review. Mr. Bayram, noted that the need to educate the legislators at the local level by interaction and yard visits had from his experience a highly beneficial impact on their consequent thinking. Mr. Sellier re-enforced the vast importance of effective messaging. Indeed, Mr. Katrakis confirmed the time for more forcefully expressed communication of the recycling sector’s expert role to the regulators was undoubted. Mr. Lion posited the suggestion that a David and Goliath scenario where the essentially SME business-owned entrepreneurial nature of the recycling industry faced the power and influence of the heavily institutionalized corporate consumer sector in the EU corridors of power in their comparative relationships with the Commission? One thing was clearly evident, in Mr. Katrakis the recycling industry has a brilliantly formidable advocate.
Adina Renee Adler as Vice President of Advocacy at ISRI as the second guest on the show was encouragingly able to relate in her vivid and polished narrative a picture that to an extent was contrastingly more encouraging in terms of state and federal legislators’ relationship with the US recycling industry. Doubtless, Ms. Adler’s skills and expertise including a prior background at the US Department of Commerce, where she also currently acts as ISRI’s representative on one of their committees, has significantly assisted in the advancement of ISRI’s case for the recycling sector. The three pillars PR, education and regulatory influence are major priorities in articulating the recycling industry’s invaluable contribution both economically and environmentally. Mr. Lion, noting the contrast in terms of the supportive rather than enforcing ethos of the US regulators in comparison to the EU, suggested that perhaps this was a manifestation of the culturally more supportive perception of capitalism’s capacity for positive influence leading to a “How can we support you?” versus “What are you up to?” in the two different regions, with which Ms. Adler concurred.
Andrew Hoad, Chief Network Officer, supply chain and Logistics at the massive “global trade enabler” DP World provided a tour de force exposition and explanation of the current scenario in addressing the theme of “Chronic Container Chaos”, where an alarmingly vexatious blend of massively surging freight rates, a lacunae of container availability and shipping space confronts and disrupts BIR members’ trading, marketing and supply chain capabilities. He explained in detail factors arising from the pandemic’s impact including an overwhelming miscalculation of the impact of that scourge on both economic activity’s capacity for rapid rebound, its consequent impact on the logistics supply chain and most onerously and discouragingly for the prospect of any rapid relief, given the three months halt of container box production leading to a potential shortfall in restocking on an annualized four million TEU’s. Mr. Sellier added the suggestion that new environmental restrictions would lead to the need for new fleet capacity and the slowing voyage times of older vessels to comply with regulations further impeding any early relief, which Mr. Hoad confirmed were also relevant concerns. All this in summary, Mr. Hoad suggested, was leading to a crucial need for new paradigms in addressing logistics approaches going forward – an avenue that DP World’s innovative Digital Freight Alliance is vigorously pursuing.
Joining The Challenge Team’s three amigos for a catch-up of both the program and forthcoming features of the Convention, BIR President Tom Bird brought an encouraging and enthusiastic appreciation of the edition’s fascinating, entertaining and enthralling contributions by the three guests’ contributions as being a brilliant precursor to the three days of innovative programming that this week’s virtual BIR Convention is providing to its members both live and in on-demand playback, of which a must view endorsement of the special convention edition of The Challenge is an undoubted leading example.