UK – Potential difficulties faced by the construction and automotive sectors as a result of public and consumer spending cuts will make 2011 an uncertain year for the UK metals recycling sector, according to Michael Oppenheimer, President of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA). Environmental policy at a European level could also increase the sector’s regulatory burden, he adds.
Elected BMRA President in June last year, Mr Oppenheimer says that 2010 was a difficult but nonetheless successful year for the metals recycling industry, partly as a result of clear signs of recovery in the crucial construction and car production sectors. ‘However, draconian cuts in public capital budgets over the next three years will seriously impact on construction and there are concerns that the fear of future job losses, if not the reality, will inhibit consumer spending and hinder further automotive sector recovery,’ he argues.
A shortage of scrap has underpinned prices in many ferrous markets while the mixed medium-term economic outlook raises questions about the longer-term availability of ferrous scrap in the UK, according to Mr Oppenheimer. Meanwhile, the plethora of rules relating to metals recycling continues to be a problem – particularly for smaller sites, he adds.
BMRA’s President expresses concern over how the new UK government will approach European issues and, in particular, a continuing growth in the environmental policy agenda being considered by the European Parliament, European Commission and some EU member states. Unless checked, this agenda will grow unheeded and regulation will follow. ‘I could see a time when freedom of trade outside the EU could be threatened where a secondary metal was designated as a scarce or strategic resource,’ he states.