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Importance of free, fair and sustainable trade for commodity-grade metal scrap

21 October 2021

Europe’s metal recycling industry is one of the fastest growing industries, providing local, non-outsourceable jobs.  Composed of SMEs and large players, it offers a unique infrastructure of facilities and processing plants spread all over Europe. Metal recyclers supply steel mills, smelters and foundries located in and outside Europe with commodity-grade metal scrap from recycling, thus playing an essential role in the circularity and climate-neutrality of metals.

Given their intrinsic properties, metals are indefinitely recyclable, making them circular by nature. In addition, the recycling of end-of-life products containing metals is climate-efficient. When compared with raw materials extraction often mined in non-EU countries subject to lower human rights, health and environmental standards, metal recycling saves massive amounts of CO2. Steel, aluminum and copper recycling save respectively 58%, 92% and 65% of CO2 emissions, to name only a few. However, prices still fail to reward these environmental benefits, thus EuRIC calls for incentives to correct this market failure and direct investments in circular value chains. More importantly, metals are valuable making them unlikely to be littered or removed when reaching end-of-life stage but collected and recovered to close new material cycles. Thus, unwanted metal waste is not a problematic stream.