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Industry concern as China confirms new thresholds for contaminants

Asia – China has officially notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intention to adopt the GB 16487 Environmental Protection Control standards for certain wastes, with the following impurity thresholds to be applied: ferrous 0.5%, non-ferrous 1%, paper 0.5%, smelt slag 0.5%, wood 0.5%, waste electric motors 0.5%, wires and cables 0.5%, metal and appliance scrap 0.5%, vessels 0.05%, plastic 0.5% and autos 0.3%.

The standards state an adoption date of December 31 this year, with entry into force proposed for March 1 2018.

The BIR world recycling organisation and the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) have expressed a mixture of relief and concern at the latest impurity thresholds proposed by China for imports of certain recyclables.

Indeed, the thresholds for recovered paper, ferrous, non-ferrous and plastics are not as low as the 0.3% initially feared. But as reported several days ago by Recycling International, feedback received only recently by industry representatives had been intimating less stringent impurity thresholds of 1% for both ferrous scrap and recovered paper as compared to the 0.5% now notified.

While pleased that the Chinese government has taken into account some of its concerns, BIR contends that the proposed percentages ‘are still far from the figures that the industry considers feasible and acceptable’.

ISRI president Robin Wiener is ‘heartened’ that the new proposal moves away from the 0.3% threshold but agrees the new levels are still ‘of great concern’ and are ‘not in line with standards followed globally by the recycling community and our industrial consumers’.

Both BIR and ISRI are proposing to make comment to the WTO by the December 15 deadline.

Check Recycling International regularly to find out how this development will unfold.


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