New road transport regulations bring challenges to the recycling industry

Source: press release, 23 February 2022

In early February, the most decisive part of the EU’s Mobility Package was implemented in Europe
In early February, the most decisive part of the EU’s Mobility Package was implemented in Europe (photo: Geminor)

This month the EU introduced the most significant part of its Mobility Package, a resolution implemented to improve working conditions for drivers and increase the control of road transport in Europe. – The new regulations will reduce the transport capacity in Europe further, bringing more challenges to the recycling industry, argues the CEO at Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad.

In early February, the most decisive part of the EU’s Mobility Package was implemented in Europe. The purpose of the regulation is to solve the biggest challenges in the transport industry – first of all the driver’s working conditions. Other ambitions are to get rid of illegal transport and create common rules for industry players in the haulier sector.

Among the most important purposes of the new Mobility Package, is to get in control of cabotage transport in Europe. One of the measures is that a foreign vehicle always must leave a country of transport for a “cooling period” of at least 4 days after completing an assignment. Another rule is that lorries must return to their country of origin every 8 weeks, and drivers have the right to return to their home country every 4 weeks.

The EU Mobility Package also requires that the driver must be allowed to rest outside of the vehicle, at the expense of the employer. More importantly, the driver’s salary must follow the wage level in the country where the transport is conducted. In addition to this, there are also new requirements for the registration of international transport.

The “perfect storm” is becoming the “perfect hurricane”
The CEO of resource management company Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad, has been following the introduction of the EU Mobility Package closely. He welcomes the new regulations – but not the timing.

“At the moment, the transport industry is affected by a dramatic shortage of both drivers and vehicles throughout Europe. In addition, fuel prices have skyrocketed, and if you add the COVID challenges, road transport services are becoming both scarce and expensive. In a way it feels like we are going from a ‘perfect storm’ to a ‘perfect hurricane’ since these measures are introduced at the worst time possible,” says Vikingstad.

Affects the waste industry
For the WtE and recycling industries, more expensive transport and reduced capacity are bad news.

“Waste fractions for energy recovery or material recycling are mostly sent as return transport, being a price-sensitive cargo. Although we are seeing some improvements in the market for ship transport in Europe, neither this nor train transport can stem the challenges within road transport,” says Vikingstad.

He believes that walking-floor transport is not as badly affected as other lorry transport. The transport of baled waste is currently more exposed to the increased competition for transport services.

If the challenges within transport persist, many waste market players will probably be forced to evaluate their operations, says Kjetil Vikingstad.

“Many players in the waste and recycling industries work according to the ‘just-in-time’ principle and are thus dependent on precise and predictable transport services. Due to the current irregularities within logistics, the storage capacity is becoming gradually more important for both producers and offtakers. One factor which can help secure on-time deliveries is having access to feedstock from several markets,” Vikingstad explains.

“The transport challenges we see today, which are growing because of measures such as the EU’s Mobility Package, may in time lead us towards more national deposit of waste resources and less export activity,” concludes Kjetil Vikingstad.