China extending ban on solid waste imports

Date: Monday, April 23, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced Thursday that the country will ban imports of 32 types of solid waste in its latest move to reduce environmental pollution.
   The policy follows earlier announcements to prohibit 24 categories of recyclable materials that began on January 1 and the imposition of tighter quality standards on all scrap imports that started March 1.
   The ministry said 16 types of solid waste, including compressed car scraps and scrapped ships, will be banned from import beginning Dec 31.
   Another 16 waste products, including stainless steel scraps, will be banned beginning Dec 31, 2019.
   China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials in the 1980s and has for years been the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials.
   “Solid waste often contains harmful elements if not properly disposed of. China has decided to phase out imports of solid waste that can be replaced by domestic resources before the end of 2019,” the ministry said.
   Robin Wiener, president of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, said, “The Chinese government’s announcement will have an impact on more than 676,000 metric tons, worth about $278 million, in U.S. scrap commodity exports to China in the first year and another 85,000 metric tons worth more than $117 million in the second year.
   “Although we anticipated more import restrictions would be announced, we remain concerned about the effect these policies have on the global supply chain of environmentally friendly, energy-saving scrap commodities and will instead promote an increased use of virgin materials in China, offsetting the government’s intent to protect the environment,” Wiener said.
   ISRI said the new items that will be prohibited by the end of 2018 include steel slag, post-industrial plastics, compressed auto pieces, small electric motors, insulated wires and vessels. By the end of 2019, wood pellets, stainless steel scrap and nonferrous scrap excluding aluminum and copper will be prohibited.
   ISRI said that the recycling industry in the U.S. processes about 130 million metric tons of material annually.
   In a fact sheet on its website it said that the U.S.-based scrap industry shipped about 37 million tons of scrap worth more than $16.5 billion in 2016.
   “Asia, and China in particular, is one of the largest markets in the world for scrap commodities. In 2016, U.S. scrap exporters shipped more than $5.6 billion of scrap commodities to China. With the steady growth in China’s industrial economy, there has been ever increasing demand for scrap supplied from the United States as China has leapfrogged in many categories of industrial production.”
   The import ban will be felt in other countries as well.
   Korea’s KBS World Radio noted, “The latest ban is expected to further compound South Korea’s ongoing waste management crisis.”
   ISRI says in 2016, European Union scrap exporters shipped scrap commodities worth 3.9 billion euros ($4.79 billion) to mainland China.

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