China Speaks Up About U.S. Waste Exports

Every year, the U.S. capitalizes on the $5 billion recycling business created through their disposal of waste exported to China in shipping containers. We recently blogged about China’s ambiguous notifications to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 18th and have more information to answer our questions regarding import bans. U.S. recyclers have been anxiously waiting for more news, as trade relations with China could be greatly affected.

The U.S. is accustomed to loading shipping containers with waste and transporting them to China without having to confront the environmental challenges paired with it. Beijing is seeking to ban several different varieties of waste. Among them are the common types of plastic and paper shipped overseas by the U.S.

China’s ban is an effort to protect the environment, particularly because the waste sent over contains harmful, hazardous material that contributes to the country’s existing pollution. China’s State Council reported that one of their goals is to protect the environment along with their country’s health.

U.S. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) official Adina Adler reveals, “In the short term we’re going to see a significant drop of exports from the U.S. into China, and there is a little bit of panic in the market.” This panic partly stems from the timeline of the bans. U.S. companies feel unprepared, with the ban expected to take effect in September, and are pressed to devise a plan with realistic goals.

Adler also reports that the ban is currently influencing trade with China as “Chinese buyers are canceling orders, or not placing new ones, and in some cases they’re just not picking up shipments at the port.” The ISRI is willing to do what it can to prevent the ban from taking effect, especially because it can negatively affect trade relations and the environment.

Adam Minter argues that the ban will leave Chinese recyclers no choice but to go out of business. In turn, this can cause more waste in landfills and aggravate the environment further. Is there enough time to settle the differences and develop an effective solution?

The U.S. agrees that China should address the environment, but not by imposing a ban that could be counterproductive. It seems we are still awaiting some answers from China. The uncertainty is currently birthing a negative response, but Berg Mill continues to work hard to deliver businesses more information on this situation and other industry related news.

If you generate, handle, or process waste and would like to strengthen your position in this uncertain market, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply. As we have done in the past, Berg Mill continues to work hard on creating solutions to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, including opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities.