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AQSIQ confirms lower Chinese imports in 2013

Asia – The volume of imported secondary raw materials passing through China’s inspection and quarantine agencies amounted to just over 55 million tons last year – equivalent to some 6.4% less than in 2012 and also below the levels of 2009 and 2011.

According to the Chinese authorities, slightly more than 88% of the volume comprised recovered paper, waste plastics, mixed waste metal, and waste metals and alloys.

The figures relayed to BIR by Ma Hongchang, the local recycling expert engaged by the world recycling organisation to report on relevant changes in law and policy enforcement in the key market of China, are taken from an AQSIQ report released earlier this month. BIR says that this provides the international recycling industry with the most comprehensive picture to date of Chinese imports of recyclables in 2013.

Although quality was generally improved, the proportion of imports deemed to fall outside China′s environmental protection rules recorded an upturn when compared to the previous year, with notable increases for smelting slag and waste plastics. The following are the main four reasons given for disqualification and accounted for 86% of the total: common impurities exceeding standard; material not washed or not clean; strictly-controlled impurities exceeding standard; and material mixed with banned substances.

China imported secondary raw materials from more than 160 countries and regions last year, with North America, East Asia and Europe still the main suppliers. Pre-shipment inspection agencies conducted checks on 52.8 million tons of material, of which it disqualified 1.4314 million tons on environmental protection grounds for an increase of 146.79% over the previous year.

Throughout 2013, this issue maintained a higher political sensitivity after China′s president Xi Jinping and other leaders called for a sharpened focus on management of ′foreign waste′ imports. The year also brought increased efforts to strengthen law enforcement co-operation between different Chinese ministries, as well as to intensify registration and standardise access procedures.

Out of more than 2000 registration applications, over 800 were deemed to be unqualified or requiring correction/supplementary data. Also in 2013, the licences of more than 360 foreign suppliers of recyclables and domestic consignees were either cancelled or revoked. By the end of last year, there were 3195 qualified foreign suppliers and 3490 domestic consignees.

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