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Ferrous outlook: united sector a Covid-19 ‘bonus’

Co-operation between recycling organisations around the world is being hailed as a positive aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic – despite the slump in global markets.

Greg Schnitzer, president of the ferrous division of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), says the recycling industry has the benefit of serving the manufacturing sector – an essential element of the global economy.‘Although we may not be at 100% capacity, we are proudly contributing to the world economy through this pandemic.

Increased collaboration between all the recycling associations is proving there is power in our numbers. The pandemic has brought our industry closer together with increased communication among us all.’

Schnitzer notes improvements in the steel market, led by China. ‘For the first time since news broke of the pandemic, China has shown its first growth and has become the backbone of the scrap and steel industry,’ he writes in the latest BIR Mirror.

‘With the country’s increased demand for billets as well as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, this points to signs of recovery and growth. It is definitely encouraging to see more steel scrap demand and price increases worldwide.’

Reporting on the US situation, George Adams, ceo of SA Recycling says domestic scrap and steel industries are seeing a modest recovery. ‘As US states began to reopen in May and June, scrap flows returned much faster than demand.

After dropping by 50% and more during the initial April shutdown, US scrap intakes came back quickly and are now down only 10-15% on pre-COVID levels.’ 

Shane Mellor, ceo of Mellor Metals, offers the UK perspective, saying the pandemic continues to hamper the UK scrap metal market. He says prices are fluctuating within a narrow range with freight rates contributing more to the price differential than the supply and demand of the steelmakers.

But he notes ‘a fair demand’ for quality scrap – both domestically and on the export front – with material flowing but at a reduced volume.

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