UK’s BBA To Launch Cares Competitor Steel Rebar Scheme

The British Board of Agrement is launching a competing scheme to Cares for steel rebar certification.
BBA, which provides construction product certification, has worked closely with UK domestic producer Celsa in developing the scheme. It will officially announce its launch at a British Association of Reinforcement (BAR) event in London later this month.
BAR represents rebar fabricators, along with its competitor organisation the British Independent Reinforcement Fabricators Association (Birfa). Birfa was formed in 2015 as independent fabricators left BAR, because they regarded it too heavily influenced by Celsa and its own fabricators, which represent around 50pc of the market.
But Celsa has said “some fabricators are associated with mills but the majority [by number] are independent”, in evidence submitted to the Trade Remedies Authority’s review into Chinese rebar duties.
Independent fabricators are concerned the BBA scheme will be skewed in favour of domestic material. Given the structure of the market and Celsa’s ownership of fabricators, independents have to import. Their sustainable Cares-approved supply sources are already limited by dumping duties and import quotas. Independent fabricators are currently selling rebar to their competitors as they cannot get sufficient steel domestically. Liberty also produces rebar at its Thrybergh mill in Yorkshire, but currently in only a limited size range.
UK politicians in 2014 questioned the effectiveness of Cares as Celsa and UK Steel campaigned against the use of Chinese rebar and warned that the addition of boron could cause the material to crack. Before it was dumped by the European Commission in 2016, China represented as much as half of the UK’s market, as independent fabricators looked for competitive supplies. The EU measures lapsed at the end of July with little fanfare.
During the dispute between UK Steel and importers in 2016, labels of origin were being removed from rebar at the Port of Liverpool. Proof of origin is a key part of Cares certification.
Cares more recently has tried to amend its sustainability scheme to suggest material from a certain distance away would not meet its sustainability criteria, a change Celsa supported. But the changes were not implemented after a backlash from independent fabricators.