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Coronavirus update: Business trips on hold, conferences cancelled

The coronavirus is disrupting more and more recycling businesses and scrap markets around the globe. Here are the latest updates.

The lockdown of cities, major ports and industrial areas in China is increasingly affecting China’s recycling infrastructure, say scrap industry leaders. Most of the scrap recycling companies in China are still under ‘remote working’ policy, according to David Chiao, president of US-based Uni-All Group. ‘This means that companies must obtain permission from local authorities for a certain percentage of work force,’ he tells Recycling International.

Another major concern for Chiao remains transportation. ‘Factories are not getting raw materials in on time. However, according to Beijing official records from 26 February, non-ferrous companies’ overall operation rate hit 76.5%, while smelters are operating at 90.5%. I must say, I am a little confused.’

Clearly, the closure of factories, ports and entire regions in China is affecting the wider world. For example, China exported car parts were worth US$ 60 billion last year and any disruption to that major supply chain would be significant. Any slowdown in the domestic Chinese market will also inevitably hit those in the west sending secondary and recovered materials – most notably non-ferrous.

Avoiding the masses

The coronavirus is not only causing headaches about the impact on business; it also raises health risk concerns among recyclers and traders. Recyclers confirm to Recycling International they have reduced business travel – especially to Asia – ‘to a minimum’.

Scrap recyclers and traders from all over the world met in Delhi in mid-February for the 7th International Material Recycling Conference but several delegates decided to cancel their trip at the last moment because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Conferences on hold

Meanwhile, an increased number of conferences have been postponed or cancelled. CHINAPLAS 2020, the 34th International Exhibition on Plastics and Rubber Industries in Shanghai on 21-24 April is being postponed due to the epidemic. ‘Health and safety of all show participants are our top priority, therefore we have had to make this decision,’ says the event organiser.

It’s not only China held events that are affected by the virus. The seeSUSTAINtec congress and trade show in Bulgaria has also been cancelled with the authorities recommending a general ‘restriction’ on events. ‘We are convinced that the current situation will negatively affect the quality of attendance,’ says the seeSUSTAINtec organiser.

Been in China recently?

The organiser of the Plastics Recycling Show Europe (25-26 March in Amsterdam) is taking precautionary measures ‘to help ensure the health and well-being of our visitors and exhibitors’. Would-be visitors who have been in China less than 17 days prior to the show are being requested not to attend.

In addition, hand disinfectants are being placed at all entrances and in public spaces and toilet areas of the venue. The Netherlands is well prepared for an outbreak, says the event organiser, who advises against ‘handshaking or excessive contact’.

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