The wide world of recycling

The wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

A U.S. trade group is calling on South Africa to stick to free trade policies with recyclable commodities, Ghana is looking to make exporting ferrous scrap metal a crime and three beverage companies have defeated a bottle bill Down Under.

The Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries is arguing that a measure being considered by the South African government will raise the price of scrap metal.

Scott Horne, vice president and general counsel for ISRI, writing in a letter to Ebrahim Patel, minister of country's Department of Economic Development, states that:

"We are gravely concerned that the Republic of South Africa is contemplating imposing restrictions on the export of scrap metals with the stated intent to increase the supply of scrap metals available to domestic industry while also making the price of those scrap metals more affordable for the domestic industry. Although it may be hard to appreciate, domestic scrap prices in most countries are driven by the global marketplace for the scrap materials and not by the local economy. Scrap materials, and scrap metals in particular, are one of the purest examples of supply and demand economics that we have seen in the global economy and thus are extraordinarily sensitive to even the slightest outside intervention."

The letter, which points out that ISRI has member companies in South Africa, claims that in the past "artificial interventions" by governments into scrap markets have had negative consequences. Specifically, the letter points to how the U.S. put restrictions on ferrous scrap exports in the 1970s in an effort to control price rises of the material. According to the letter, the price of scrap was only driven up as a result of the export controls. South Africa would see the same happen if it went forward with the policy, according to the letter, which also argues that clamping down on exports would likely run afoul of international trade agreements the country is a party to.

Another African nation looking to manage ferrous scrap metal from leaving its borders, Ghana is considering making the export of ferrous scrap metal a crime in order to protect its steel industry. According to a report in Steel Times International, the new Minister of Trade and Industry for the West African nation has proposed a bill to make the export of ferrous scrap metal a criminal offence, as many local firms are currently flouting the administrative ban on the export of the material.

"The export of metal scrap from Ghana leads to scarcity of raw materials, hence a huge threat for the survival of the steel industry in Ghana," said the general secretary of Ghana's Industrial & Commercial Workers' Union, Solomon Kotei. "Countries like China, Thailand, Malaysia among others, offer attractive prices for metal scrap which the local industries cannot afford to pay. As a result, redundancy is what has befallen workers in the steel industry."

According to the union, the local steel industry in Ghana is only operating at 30 percent capacity and that a large local steel firm had to shutter its doors, resulting in 700 job losses.

In Australia, a trio of drink companies has succeeded in mounting a legal challenge against a beverage container deposit system in one of the country's territories. The Northern Territory government contested the suit brought by Coca-Cola Amatil, Schweppes Australia and Lion Pty, Ltd. against its bottle deposit law, which attaches a 10-cent refund to certain bottles and cans, according to The Australian. The deposit law went into effect January of last year and has encouraged people to recycle 35.5 million containers since it went into effect.

However, the beverage companies succeeded in challenging the program on grounds that it violated a fairly arcane part of the country's federal law, reports ABC News.

"This is a big blow for the Territory, it's a real setback," Terry Mills, the chief minister of the state, told the ABC.

A petition demanding that Coke drop the suit gathered over 111,000 signatures.

"Coke claims the program is a tax that hurts its sales, but container deposit programs have been implemented throughout the world, and studies have shown that there's no evidence for Coke's argument," Kaytee Riek, campaign manager for, an advocacy group seeking to check corporate power, in a prepared statement. "Coca-Cola's crusade against recycling is just knee-jerk anti-environmentalism."

In the wake of the court's decision, consumers have attacked Coke on social media, threatening to boycott the company, reports adelaidenow.

Rotochopper Banner

To return to the Resource Recycling newsletter, click here.