Brussels - Despite high energy costs and payment problems for a number of African customers, “2009 has not hit the textiles recycling industry as hard as we feared it would”, BIR Textiles Division President Olaf Rintsch of Germany-based Textil Recycling K&A Wenkhaus GmbH told the latest Round-Table in Amsterdam.
Providing a perspective on the US market, Eric Stubin of textile recycling association SMART reported a decline of around 10 percent in rag prices over the last two to three months as well as “softening” demand from the export market. Larry Groipen of ERC Wiping Products Inc. in the USA then warned of potential disruption to exports of used clothing and footwear as a result of efforts to develop new standards within the International Organization for Standarization.
The new eco-tax scheme in France attracted significant attention at the Round-Table, with Mehdi Zerroug of Framimex in France explaining that the first of the levy funds were transferred in July of this year. Reading out a statement on behalf of Boer Group Holding, Rainer Binger of Germany said this “subsidy programme to stimulate the collection of textiles” could potentially deprive “healthy sorting companies with strong traditional grading” of their established markets.
Also on the issue of national initiatives, Hans Brak of Handelsonderneming Brak BV in the Netherlands noted that the Dutch government had introduced a National Waste Plan in 2008 which sought to intensify the collection of used textiles. Fearing this might lead to serious problems such as a major increase in lower-grade volumes, domestic association Vereniging Herwinning Textiel (VHT) has brought together all interested parties within the textiles chain to discuss the issues raised.
VHT’s Secretary Martijn van Leeuwen then outlined a number of possible options for helping to secure the industry’s future, including finding new applications for the lower grades of used textiles and arriving at more efficient processing methods for these same materials. In addition, the speaker acknowledged that consideration may be given to some kind of producer responsibility levy. In this context, experience gained in France - both positive and negative - will prove valuable, he added.
The guest presentation from lawyer Dr Oliver Bertram of Germany-based Kleiner Rechtsanwälte looked at the potential for minimum wage legislation to impact on the recycling sector, with particular reference to developments in his home country and several other European nations. Referring to earlier discussion of the link between recycling and waste legislation, he concluded: “So long as your primary business is waste, you will not be able to escape this minimum wage.” Quelle: Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)