Global – China’s import crackdown is having major practical implications for the scrap sector, according to one of the industry’s leading lights. ‘Some ports have reported heavy congestion owing to Chinese officials conducting very restrictive inspections on all imported scrap – in some cases, inspecting more than three times before releasing it,’ states David Chiao, president of the BIR world recycling organisation’s non-ferrous metals division.
The uncertainty surrounding China’s policy has led many suppliers to develop their own processing of mixed metals, Chiao points out in the division’s latest Mirror publication. Suppliers are also looking to other countries – particularly in South East Asia – as alternatives to the Chinese market, but this could prove to be a short-term solution ‘as these could very well follow in China’s footsteps with their import regulations’, he goes on to suggest.
In noting that China is proposing maximum waste thresholds of 0.5% or 1% depending on the category of material, Chiao also asks by what measurement method China’s CCIC inspection group intends to make its evaluation.
Also writing in the Mirror, BIR’s advisor on regulatory and policy developments Ma Hongchang notes confirmation from China’s environmental protection minister Li Ganjie that approval of scrap import licences will be tightened and that ‘fewer will be issued’, adding specifically that an import application ‘submitted by any enterprise that has violated the law within the past year will not be approved’. Overall imports of scrap ‘will be reduced’ while ‘special actions’ to crack down on environmental violations relating to imported scrap will be carried out in each of the coming three years, it is also confirmed.
The policy shift in China has led in many countries to a greater focus on domestic processing capabilities. The Mirror report from Germany, for example, emphasises a need ‘to build capacities to handle certain grades which have previously headed out to China in export containers’. Since the summer, it also notes, ‘the majority of cable and motor scrap has been remaining within Germany’ owing to developments in China.
This article is based on the latest World Mirror on Non-Ferrous Metals produced by the BIR world recycling organisation for the benefit of its members.