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Making the scene: recyclers flocked to the BIR Spring Conference and Waste Expo for information on commodity markets and new products.

Two fairly diverse conferences were recently held in May. While Waste Expo, the annual show for the waste management industry, featured glitzy Las Vegas as its backdrop, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the world trade association for recyclers, chose historic Barcelona.

ON THE FLOOR. Waste Expo, which was May 2-5, is known for being geared toward new products and services. This year's show didn't disappoint those who were seeking information on equipment and services geared toward the show's diverse group of attendees.

The show's two-tiered exhibit hall created a stir among attendees. Trucks and waste hauling equipment and services were featured on the first floor, while recycling products and services were showcased on the second level.

Outside of the exhibit hall, a number of educational sessions were offered, including an innovative session titled "Recyclers Roundtable," which Chaz Miller of the National Association of Solid Waste Management moderated. During the interactive session, several recyclers, including Ben Harvey from E.L. Harvey & Sons; Pat DeRueda of Recycle America Alliance; and Thomas Winstead of Waste Industries, spent the sessions discussing the opportunities and challenges confronting the recycling industry.

In another session focused on paper markets, Steve Sargent of Rumpke Recycling, an Ohio-based recycling and solid waste management company, discussed the success his company has had sorting and processing material. David Friedman of Arizona-based Friedman Recycling looked at the growth in collection and discussed pricing mechanisms that drive the paper recycling market.

IN SESSION. The Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) recently held its spring meeting May 23-25 in Barcelona.

Speakers for the ferrous and nonferrous divisions noted that despite the strength shown in 2004 and the first few months of 2005, as of late, prices for metals have been declining, with the exception of copper scrap. Various speakers said prices for ferrous scrap have been dipping, despite growing demand for finished steel.

John Neu of Manhattan-based Hugo Neu Corp. offered an overview of ferrous markets from the U.S. perspective. He said collections were beginning to slow and suppliers were confused about how scrap prices could fall so much while steel production and scrap usage were strong.

"At some point, buyer reluctance and reduced collections will cause scrap inventories to reduce further, which will then be accompanied by greater need to replenish," Neu said.

The shredder division meeting focused on legislative issues in Europe. Tony Bird, European Shredder Group chairman, said eight EU countries have indicated their intention to ban the landfilling of shredder residue within the next five years. Jens Hempel-Hansen, chairman of BIR's shredder committee, said prohibiting the landfilling of the material could slow down work aimed at finding solutions for the material.

The stainless steel division meeting touched on the slowdown in the sector. Sandro Giuliani, chairman of the stainless steel and special alloys committee, said European stainless steel production increased by about 7 percent in 2004, but will rise by as little as half in 2005.

Barry Hunter, a guest speaker at the meeting, said a number of factors, such as the European economy, the potenially stronger U.S. dollar and higher interest rates, "would give support to reduced buying and maintaining extremely tight inventory controls."

Discussion during the paper division meeting focused on declining recovered fiber pricing and Europe's growing exports to the Pacific Rim.

The author is Internet and senior editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at


Additional coverage from the BIR Spring Conference is available online at
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Author:Sandoval, Dan
Publication:Recycling Today
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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