Low water remains an existential topic for the German steel recycling industry

by David Fleschen

Low water levels, especially on the Rhine, will continue to affect the steel and steel recycling industry in the future. The Federal Association of German steel recycling and disposal companies e. V. (BDSV) calls now to take concrete measures to fairly distribute rising freight costs at low tide.

The low water levels in the summer of 2018 have shown that climate change will hit the transport routes on inland waterways to a special degree. In particular, the steel recycling industry, which secures the supply of raw materials to the steel industry via the climate-friendly mode of transport waterway, incurs costly burdens and significant logistical challenges that can lead to downtimes in an emergency. Although the levels on the Rhine are currently at the level of the annual average, the precipitation of recent months, according to experts, far from sufficient to compensate for the expected dry periods in the coming summer months.

Despite the currently projected slowdown in the economy, it can not be expected that the concomitant easing of capacity will reduce logistics costs. Nevertheless, additional expenditure on the recruitment and retention of skilled workers and a further increase in fuel costs are to be expected. In addition, a prolonged dry period, as last year, can result in up to three times higher freight rates for steel recycling companies. Added to this are small water surcharges, which are levied if persistent low water reduces the full utilization of transport vessels. In many cases, it is not possible for the steel recycling companies, whose steel scrap continuously ensures the supply of raw materials to the steel mills, to switch to rail and truck, because even here the capacities are limited. The BDSV therefore renews its demand that the costs must be borne in solidarity by all parties involved in the value chain. It can not be right that the scrap trade alone is left on the skyrocketing freight costs. With the recycling of steel scrap, the steel recycling industry makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions (more than 42 million tonnes in 2018), thus contributing in particular to the protection of the climate. In this context, the climate-friendly transport of steel scrap on inland waterways must continue to be affordable, and consequently the increasing freight costs must be fairly distributed.

In addition, BDSV, as Europe's largest steel recycling association, is calling for resolute rehabilitation of inland waterways. In this context, she welcomes the Master Plan for Inland Waterway Transport recently presented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
Source: BDSV, Photo: Fotolia

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