Metals Recyclers Must Look at the Bigger Picture

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Tom Bird Van Dalen Metal RecyclingTom Bird, managing director of the UK arm of metals recycling group, Van Dalen, argues the UK media must move away from a parochial emphasis on metal theft;  focusing instead on the global marketplace and what this means for the future of the industry.

The mass media has just one story on its mind when it comes to metals in the UK - the rising theft rate of copper, lead and other commodities from community buildings and transport networks. However, to concentrate on what are, in the main, isolated incidents, is to miss the bigger picture of what is happening across the global marketplaces with regard to metals.

The metals sector is operating in uncertain times. In the UK, we're moving towards a second round of quantitative easing, while worries persist about the viability of the Euro in the wake of the Greek situation. Understanding this bigger picture - and the potential impact it may have on the sector - is of far more importance to metals recyclers than thefts from church rooftops.

Demand has been driven by a stable Turkish economy and there are also hopes that the wider Asian marketplace will pick up. However, China is showing greater resilience in regards to imports and domestic production.

The industry must not forget that it has been here before and has emerged stronger. There is still an underlying scarcity of material in the markets and - despite the cost-cutting - the industry is still forecast to see increased capacity. Where the recession of 2008 caught businesses by surprise, the challenges of 2011 should not. Businesses are better prepared, stock management is more vigilantly controlled and overheads are more carefully managed. Both suppliers and customers are more robust.

The industry is in a far better position now than it was three years ago but the key thing to remember in these uncertain times is to look at the bigger picture. The businesses who will survive the next five years are those focused on a global future.

Tom Bird, managing director of the UK arm of Van Dalen, a Dutch recycling solutions company that processes both ferrous and non-ferrous metals and operates deep sea export facilities in the UK and Northern Europe.

Also Read

EU Reclassification of Recycled Ferrous Metal and Aluminium
The European Commission is to reclassify recycled ferrous metals, as well as aluminium, as materials instead of 'waste'.

Why Recycling Must Begin on the Factory Floor
Wherever you turn today, you cannot get away from the word recycling. Every part of society, from households to factory owners is now involved in the collective process of making sure the UK's recycling targets are met.


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