New road transport regulations bring challenges to the recycling industry

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 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 measures in the new Mobility Package, is getting in control of cabotage transport. From now on a foreign vehicle must leave the country for a “cooling period” of at least 4 days after completing the assignment.

Another rule is that lorries must return to their country of origin every eight weeks, and drivers have the right to return to their home country at least every four 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”

Arngrim Molberg is the CEO of Wiiks Transport AS, a Norwegian transport company with a fleet of 31 vehicles. Molberg, who has transported waste fractions for Geminor since 2007, has been following the introduction of the EU mobility package closely. He welcomes the new regulations – but not the timing.

Arngrim Molberg is CEO at Wiiks Transport.

– 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, Molberg explains.

– The Mobility Package is no doubt good for drivers and the industry, but considering the market at present, the regulation will just reduce the transport capacity further. Providing transport services, we are frustrated by being unable to meet the capacity needs. 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 Molberg.

Affects the waste industry

For the WtE and recycling industries, both more expensive transport and reduced capacity are bad news, explains CEO at resource management company Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad.

– 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.

More storage

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

Kjetil Vikingstad is CEO at Geminor.

– 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 off-takers. 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.

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