Solid Waste & Recycling


China bans U.S. scrap imports for one month, cites contamination

Adding to recent trade sanctions, China has suspended U.S. operations of CCIC North America for one month, effective May 4 through June 4, after officials said they continue to find “imported U.S. wastes as raw materials that do not meet environmental protection requirements.”

This means no inspections can be arranged or certificates issued for scrap exports during this period. The information management system for pre-shipment inspections on the import of wastes as raw materials (PSI) will be suspended.

“There is no doubt that this will severely impact U.S. scrap exports to China,” the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) announced on its website, adding that the Chinese Government will accept shipments sent prior to May 3 with CCIC certificates, although they will be subject to 100% inspections and are not guaranteed entry.

ISRI notes that it’s “working aggressively to gain more information and to find a way to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and in a way that minimizes the impact on our members.”

This week, a cabinet-level delegation from the U.S. government is in China for talks on trade.

In an announcement, Chinese officials stated that, “since the beginning of 2018, the ports throughout the country have continuously detected multiple batches of imported U.S. wastes as raw materials that do not meet the environmental protection requirements.”

The statement from Chinese officials also says it will “resolutely keep the foreign trash out of the country door of China.”

Beijing told the World Trade Organization in November that it would block imports of 24 types of yang la-ji beginning in January 2018. That included plastics waste from living sources, vanadium slag and unsorted waste paper. Already, this first portion of the new ban has proven effective, with scrap metal imports their lowest since February 2016. Paper and plastics have plunged, too, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. Remarkably, waste plastics imports dropped 94% in January 2018 to 10,000 tonnes from December’s 180,000 tonnes.

The second portion of China’s National Sword initiative is just now getting underway. Previously, the world’s most prolific recyclables buyer allowed 5% of impurities in imported bales of plastic, but as implementation of reduced “carried waste” thresholds began in March, China, which buys approximately two-thirds of North America’s recyclables, requires that contamination levels – newspaper smeared with mustard, plastics mixed with broken glass – can’t exceed 0.5%.

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