5 January 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

BIR calls for international agreements on recycling

Global recycling association, Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), is calling for world leaders to implement and strengthen international agreements that promote recycling.

The recommendation comes in a list of seven changes to prioritise recycling, which Brussels-based BIR has put forward, and which the Association is asking world leaders to commit to.

Global Recycling Day

BIR is promoting a Global Recycling Day on March 18

BIR said the changes will be central to the mission of the first Global Recycling Day, to be held on 18 March 2018.

Global Recycling Day is an international initiative, designed by BIR to raise awareness of the need to shift the global perception of what is considered as waste into a valuable resource.

Through Global Recycling Day, BIR said it is asking people to think of waste as the “seventh resource” and to prioritise its use.


According to BIR, in 2016 there was a record surge in C02 levels, which the Association said can only be reduced by “re-thinking” the way in which waste is disposed. And, BIR explains that every year recyclables save over 700 million tonnes in C02 emissions generated annually.

BIR has created a list of seven commitments it is presenting to world leaders, which it said are needed to prioritise Seventh Resource.

The commitments are:

  • Implement and strengthen international agreements that promote recycling, and negotiate new ones as needed.
  • Support and promote the sustainable trade of recyclable materials to ecologically sound companies across the globe.
  • Educate, from the grass roots up, the public on the critical necessity of recycling.
  • Agree to a common language of recycling (same definitions, same messages).
  • Make recycling a community issue, supporting initiatives which help households and businesses provide Seventh Resource materials for repurposing.
  • Work with the industry to encourage ‘design for recycling’ in the reuse of materials – reducing waste and integrating ‘end-of-life’ functionality at the design stage.
  • Support innovation, research and initiatives that foster better recycling practices.

The call for international cooperation on recycling comes in conjunction with a New Year message from Arnaud Brunet, BIR director general, earlier this week.


Reflecting on the developments throughout the last year, Mr Brunet described the situation in China as a “real game-changer”.

He said: “We shall continue our efforts to understand, get the practical details, and support our members. But my feeling is that there will be no real way back, that our industry has to comply, adapt and find alternative options in the longer term. In a fast-changing world, agility and adaptability is a key to survival.”

Mr Brunet highlighted communications as one of BIR’s main priorities going forwards. And, he said the first Global Recycling Day will be the landmark event of its global communications.

He said the BIR will “continue to advocate our views and offer cooperation to the Chinese authorities, as we now have to see how all this will be implemented and become concrete.”

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