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LONDON: Europe’s metals recycling industry could collapse under the European Commission’s proposed changes to waste shipments that clamp down on exports to encourage recycling, members of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) have warned.

The EU proposals aim to restrict the export of waste materials such as metals, plastics and textiles as part of efforts to increase recycling within the bloc and stop waste being shipped to emerging market countries where it may be dumped rather than recycled.

But BIR members said the regulations would create a surplus of material in the region and disrupt the flow of scrap metals and other materials to buyers outside the EU.

“The EU Green Deal if carried out in the guise of a ‘one fits all’ approach may have detrimental effects to green recycling in areas such as ours,” European Metal Recycling’s Murat Bayram said during the BIR’s annual World Recycling Convention, taking place online this year.

“Export restrictions would result in nothing short of a collapse of the current strong green infrastructure that relies on unhampered access to end-markets all over the world,” Bayram added.

The metals industry argues that lumping together all secondary materials as “waste” obscures the high-quality metal that goes into smelting facilities and that European recyclers do not have enough capacity to process it all.

“The worst that can happen with the Waste Shipment Regulation revision is an increase in unjustified export prohibitions and inclusion of technical barriers to trade, such as requiring exactly the same company conditions outside the EU as within the EU, that will make exports impossible,” Ross Bartley, BIR’s environmental and trade director, told Reuters.