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BIR: Recyclers caught by unfair shipping costs and red tape

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has added its weight to calls for governments, shipping lines and port authorities to waive fees and costs on containers caught up by restrictions imposed during the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The global recycling organisation has officially contacted policy makers, regulators and organisations over containers stuck in ports due to government-enforced shutdowns. It is also promoting the implementation of ‘green lanes’ at border crossings to smooth the trading of goods, including recyclables.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some countries have restricted the movements of the citizens and sometimes goods. This has affected the movement of recyclables from facilities in exporting countries to those in importing countries.

Extra port costs

Specifically, traders have complained about detention and demurrage costs at ports. The fees, normally a routine part of the business between shipping lines and importers, were building up with cargoes stuck following lockdown. Demurrage is charged by ports for containers still on the dockside after a specified number of days while detention covers the period between the container being picked up and returned empty.

Following complaints in India, where lockdown was introduced on 25 March, the Directorate General of Shipping of India issued an order ‘advising’ shipping lines not to impose demurrage charges until 7 April. Similar relief was allowed at the Pakistani ports of Qasim and Karachi. Recycling International understands some of the major shipping lines have also waived some of the fees.

‘Green lanes’

On 16 March, the European Commission published guidelines on what was required at border crossings shared by member states. In a briefing document, the EC says waste companies ‘provide an essential service even in these difficult times’. The guidelines are intended ‘to keep the green lanes for waste open so that it could be shipped without delay, become the resource for another industry or get its most appropriate treatment in the EU’.

In calling for greater understanding for exporters and importers during a difficult trading period, BIR said: ‘The recycling industries have a long relationship with shipping lines and ports and cooperation into the future will remain as the volumes of recyclables are predicted to increase for the coming decades.’

BIR has also praised governments that have recognised recycling as an essential industry collecting, processing and delivering vital materials back into straitened economies. 

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