The Bureau of International Recycling’s (BIR’s) regional commodity presidents/chairmen have indicated that the metals market is showing some signs of improvement from the COVID-19 pandemic, but uncertainty still reigns.
Here’s what the regional presidents had to say in their update on the pandemic’s impact on the global recycling market:
In China, industry operations have returned to normal but all eyes are now on how import and export procedures might be affected under the new “recycled materials” qualification system for copper, brass, and cast aluminum alloys. While the Chinese government is yet to announce the details, several major shipping lines have already confirmed they will no longer accept bookings for “scrap”. Thus, companies exporting metal scrap to China must comply with all the current procedures until the rules are changed, including being registered with AQSIQ and submitting to pre-shipment inspections.
In Mexico, where COVID-19 cases remain high, industries are being allowed to continue to operate and private enterprises are adopting as many safety measures as each can devise and afford. Non-ferrous metal scrap generation is gradually improving – but not quite at the pace of demand. During the early months of the pandemic, most Mexican consumers were proactive in halting new purchases and working down their inventories, but now they are finding scrap availability to be tight as they attempt to ramp up production.
For many countries, the ferrous scrap industry is now seeing very little impact from the pandemic, although issues continue to surround the market in India which has just set a record for the world’s highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases. Feedback from the e-scrap sector also suggests that business for most operators has returned almost to normal.
However, economic recovery, in general, will continue to be significantly influenced by the pandemic and, even in those countries to have passed the peak of infections, by concerns over a “second wave.” In Germany, for example, there has been an increase in reported cases since mid-July, partly as a result of more travel during the holiday period and also lower levels of discipline. At present, however, the situation appears to be largely under control.
Many market indicators are showing a stable increase in activity levels among leading industries, such as the construction and white goods sectors, which are so important to, for example, stainless steel producers and therefore to their raw material suppliers. But with governments currently taking all possible measures to avoid the aforementioned “second wave,” this will limit further growth expectations.