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Queuing up for BIR’s ‘record-breaking’ convention

Members of the Bureau of International Recycling gathering in Amsterdam to mark the organisation’s 75th birthday are doing so in record numbers.

Speaking at a media briefing on the eve of the event, outgoing president Tom Bird said 1 500 delegates were present, representing 750 companies from 60 countries.

He said he was sure the growth was a consequence of the pandemic when BIR shifted from its traditional format of two ‘physical’ conventions to online events and made far greater efforts around advocacy, which had been appreciated by the membership.

Speaking exclusively to Recycling International ahead of Amsterdam, Bird also noted this significant change: ‘The pandemic allowed BIR to demonstrate the importance of the role it has in advocacy which may not always have been appreciated.

‘When we came out of the pandemic, the numbers speak for themselves: record attendances and membership and our finances are strong. The days of only 400-500 attendees are gone.’

BIR was increasing its staff resources devoted to advocacy, Bird told the briefing, and added that it was developing a PR strategy about ‘how we communicate externally, our goals and how we are perceived’.

There would also be close work undertaken with national associations to pull together the wide range of data sets across the industry.

In an upbeat farewell before the presidency passes to nominated UK recycler Susie Burrage, Bird praised the work of BIR’s secretariat in Brussels and the oversight of treasurer Andy Wahl – ‘he’s done a fantastic job and has been meticulous’.

In a lighter note, when asked about his four years in office, he joked ‘I’ve had enough’.

He conceded that one thing had not gone well, admitting to be upset about the reaction to a trading forum in Brussels when physical events were first being permitted again under strict rules.

‘Some people said “that wasn’t as good as the BMR [Middle East recyclers] conference in Dubai”. I responded in no uncertain terms and make no apology for that. There wasn’t perhaps an appreciation of how much work the team did to get our event off the ground.’

Bird also formally announced that the October convention would be Abu Dhabi. He added that current attendances at BIR conventions meant it was increasingly difficult to find adequate conference hotels in Europe.

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