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‘We recyclers will become slaves of policy makers’

Olivier François, market development and environmental affairs officer at Galloo Recycling, was elected president of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) in April. He loves his new role despite the great and complex challenges ahead: ‘We have so much to fight for.’

François recently made the Top 100 most innovative recycling leaders (#51). Check the full list here >>

How do you combine the role with working for galloo?

‘Generally, one third of my working time is spent with EuRIC. But with so many conferences being held and the lobby machine for policy makers speeding up week by week, I think EuRIC currently takes 40-50%. Luckily, I get huge support from my colleagues at Galloo. They understand the importance. You can make a difference and we have so much to fight for, in the interest of each and every recycling company and the industry as a whole.’

Is it a fight?

‘Everybody is against us as recyclers. We are pushed into being bad guys causing waste trouble worldwide: look what the policy makers in Brussels are doing with the proposed revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation; look how strongly the NGOs campaign against us; and look at the lobbying by Europe’s steelmakers.

They have called on Brussels to restrict the export of scrap. “Saving the environment” is the official argument but we all know their interest in an export ban is only to secure volumes and to control prices.’

How would further scrap export restrictions affect individual recycling businesses?

The impact would be dramatic for many companies whose business is built on scrap exports. As an example, Galloo processes 1.2 million tonnes of ferrous scrap of which half (some 600 000 tonnes) is exported, and of that some 30% is shipped to Turkey, the world’s biggest steel scrap consumer. Imagine the consequence for Galloo’s business if that trade was cut off.’

What else is on your target list besides fighting scrap export restrictions and advocating free trade?

‘I leave paper and textiles to others within EuRIC and primarily focus on topics I have knowledge of. One is the revision of the End-of-life Vehicle (ELV) Directive. In Europe there are still millions of cars that just disappear and the European Commission wants tighter controls. There will be more responsibility for car manufacturers through ever-strict extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. It’s not the car industry that wants this, it’s Brussels.

The question is, what will this mean for recyclers? I’ll tell you, it’s a big threat for them since car producers will get more control over ELVs and the scrap material flows, which now is more where it should be: at the recyclers. As a result, in the future car recyclers will no longer be free. More and more, we will be become the slaves of systems created by policy makers. But let one thing be clear: I promise that at EuRIC we will do our utmost to get the best out it for recyclers.’

Read the full interview in our latest issue >>

Olivier François and his EuRIC team, following his election as president. Click photo for more details.

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