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A word from BIR President

2023: a year of celebrating our past and building for our future

I feel very privileged to be contributing for the first time to the BIR Annual Report in my capacity as your President. Looking back at 2023 fills me with pride because, collectively, we have made significant progress and have put actions in motion that will come to fruition in 2024 and beyond, thereby planting the seeds for future growth and diversification. 

As BIR commenced its 75th anniversary celebrations during our record-breaking Convention in Amsterdam last May – an event attracting an unprecedented 1600-plus participants from all around the world – I was extremely honoured to be elected your 23rd President. Throughout the year, we marked this significant anniversary in various ways – one of which was to produce a beautiful booklet that chronicles the rich history of BIR, highlighting the numerous milestones achieved over the years.

We continued our 75th anniversary celebrations in Abu Dhabi, the first time a BIR Convention had been held in this Emirate. The event was graced by around 1200 participants who enjoyed a beautiful Welcome Evening set in the truly memorable location of the Emirates Palace.

In 2024, our May Convention will be held in Copenhagen and in October we will return once again to Singapore, a venue of which BIR delegates have always been very fond. In light of the ever-growing Convention attendance figures over recent years, it has become necessary to move from our traditional hotel-based events to convention centres, thereby giving members more space to network and also to accommodate more exhibitors to showcase their state-of-the-art equipment.

Our advocacy efforts were amplified during 2023, with the recruitment of an additional policy officer completed in the middle of the year; this was followed by candidate research which led to two more staff members coming on board at the beginning of 2024. We have continued our unwavering commitment to defending free and fair trade for our industry and to monitoring the increasing number of global policies impacting all the recycling industry’s material streams. Our new recruits also offer commodity expertise and support to our Divisions and Committees, thereby helping with new programmes and projects.

BIR continues to represent the recycling industry wherever important environmental and regulatory debates are taking place at international and supranational levels, including at the United Nations and the OECD. Once again, this demonstrates our unshakeable commitment to advancing sustainable practices on a global scale.
I am also very proud to report that, recently, BIR was afforded a pivotal role in the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Partnership and has been involved from the very outset in the United Nations initiative to draft a new Global Plastics Treaty.

In collaboration with our national association members, we have identified the necessity for BIR to produce position papers on a variety of topics, completing one on extended producer responsibility in 2023 and starting work on others covering trade barriers, chemical recycling and critical raw materials, all to be finalised in 2024. Substantial effort has also been put into conducting a new study on the environmental benefits of recycling.

All our initiatives would go unnoticed if we didn’t tell the world about them. I have always been a strong believer in the pivotal role of communications in furthering our mission. With this in mind, we have made significant strides to enhance our public image and also our outreach, both within the industry and beyond. We have embarked on a partnership with a new communications agency, and will be placing a particular emphasis on leveraging social media as a platform to amplify our message in 2024. 

As part of my special focus on communications, I also pursued an idea for an additional service to members that would offer insight into BIR’s work and the breadth of our activities. I am therefore particularly proud to report the completion of BIR’s first magazine, The Recyclist, at the beginning of this year. This beautifully laid-out, glossy publication will also be made available to the media, policy-makers and the general public as part of our drive to enhance the image of our industry. 

Our intention is to reshape the perception of recycling, emphasising 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.

None of these achievements would have been possible without our dedicated BIR Secretariat. To further strengthen our team, the BIR Executive Committee was delighted to approve, during their last meeting in 2023, the recruitment of another member of staff for membership and convention activities, in addition to the aforementioned recruitments for advocacy. 

The governance of our organization was bolstered during 2023 with the nomination of three new special committee chairs: Alicia García-Franco, Chair of Articles of Association and Internal Rules; Ibrahim Aboura, Chair of Communications; and Sudhir Aggarwal, Chair of Ambassadors. In addition, Paul Coyte and Shane Mellor were elected Presidents of, respectively, BIR’s Non-Ferrous Metals and Ferrous Divisions. Also importantly, plastics will soon become the fifth Division of BIR under the presidency of Henk Alssema.

It is my honour to have led BIR during this momentous year. Together, let’s continue to pave the way for a sustainable and impactful future for the recycling industry. 

Keep recycling!

Susie Burrage OBE BIR President

Our intention is to reshape the perception of recycling, emphasising the vital role our industry plays in a sustainable world.”

Susie Burrage OBE
A word from BIR President