Over the last year, we've been covering China's ongoing efforts to ban imports of recyclable scrap materials from other countries, including the United States. Before the ban went into effect at the beginning of last year, China accepted the bulk of the world's scrap recycling waste. After the ban, though, countries around the world had to adjust their recycling efforts, causing a ripple effect in the waste industry that was felt the world over. Here's what you need to know about the latest updates to the ban and what they mean for the recycling industry.
More Than 30 Banned Scrap Materials
China's updated list of banned scrap materials now includes 32 distinct items or materials that other countries can no longer export to China. This latest ban went into effect on December 31 and is the result of a collaboration between several Chinese government agencies, including the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs and the National Development and Reform Commission.
While the ban already disallowed many plastic and paper waste materials, the new ban includes stainless steel, titanium and wood scrap. It also restricts used hardware, auto parts and ships. In addition to banning specific materials, the new ban also tightens quality specifications for other recyclable materials. These stringent measures are difficult to achieve, reducing the volume of even more scrap coming into China.
Working to Preserve the Environment
China's government explains that the restrictions are designed to protect the country's environment and improve public health. In the past, China has not been known for its environmental efforts, and many Chinese cities have some of the highest pollution levels in the world. With these new scrap restrictions, the goal is to improve the overall environment in China to assist in improving public health.
However, critics of the ban believe that the environmental focus is just a front for the country's true goal, to protect its trade capabilities. The United States, in particular, has been vocal in its opposition. The U.S. Trade Representative issued a 160-page report outlining its concerns, namely that the Chinese government is purposely restricting free and fair trade of scrap commodities in the country.
Effects on Both Exporters and Importers
The effects of the ban have been easy to see in countries all over the world, as they are being forced to find new outlets for their recyclable materials. We have covered these effects extensively in previous posts. However, what hasn't been as easy to quantify as of yet is the impact the ban is having on Chinese businesses that import recyclable materials. Because these materials are now in shorter supply coming into China, companies that process recyclable waste have had to contend with prices that have soared to more than double their historic levels.
For more information about the ban and its ongoing effects, get in touch with Central Kentucky Fiber Resources. We'll be happy to help you gain a better understanding of the ban and what it might mean for your business.