New Chinese regulations came into effect only weeks ago, but they are already having an impact on US scrap and waste exports.
Scrap shipments to China have declined, following new restrictions imposed on foreign waste started to come into effect last month, according to Maersk Line, the world’s largest container carrier.
The new rules are also delaying cargo ships loaded with waste paper as they are unable to move from Hong Kong.
A Maersk spokeswoman told Reuters: “While it’s too early to understand the full impact, we do see an impact on volumes of waste imports into China. However we expect some measure of rebound as exporters adapt to the new regulations.”
On July 18, China notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it would no longer accept imports of plastic, textiles, unsorted paper, artificial fibers, and certain metals. The notification stated China’s restrictions would enter force in September 2017 and all imports of these items would be blocked by the end of the year. China’s State Council has set a goal of ending all solid waste and scrap imports by 2019 and replacing them with domestic sources.
China previously allowed the imports because it created extra supplies of metals and materials in short supply for use in the domestic market.
On September 26, Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s fifth largest container line, said it would stop accepting cargoes of scrap plastic and waste paper from Europe, the US, and Asia headed for Chinese ports at the end of this year.
A final decision on an outright Chinese ban on mixed waste paper is expected in November. Chinese authorities for now have tightened requirements on waste paper to cut back on levels of contaminants, requirements that shippers find difficult meet. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) issued a draft regulation in August setting a maximum contamination rate of 0.3 percent for scrap imports.