China Proposes New Import Bans

Last month officially marked a year after China announced their mixed paper import ban. Recyclers have struggled to make progress during this difficult time, and it is about to get even more challenging with China’s most recent announcements. Berg Mill reports the industry updates and how this has affected trade flow.

The Proposed Announcements

China has goals for its future and it seems as if nothing is going to hinder that. RISI reports on the two new announcements the country made recently in saying, “The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council announced in June that China will try very hard to eliminate imports of all solid wastes by the end of 2020.” Sources are unclear as to whether this is a new import ban or if it is China’s effort to reiterate their desire to control the pollution caused from certain imports.

The other proposed announcement comes from The Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment. RISI notes that the agency “…released a draft for comment version of the Law on Solid Waste Pollution Prevention and Control in mid-July. According to the draft, China is proposing to ban all solid waste imports, including RCP.” Though nothing is finalized, the new ban will be in effect soon even though we do not have a set date. The draft included the date with the month, day, and only part of the year hidden.

How it Continues to Affect Trade

RCP trade flow has been directly affected by the import bans and we can expect a continued change moving forward. RCP suppliers are tirelessly looking for customers to buy their materials because China’s strict guidelines have posed a challenge for them. Taking a look at the data, RISI reveals, “Non-China Asia has recently become the most important RCP buyer for some exporting regions. For instance, US exports to non-China Asia totaled 686,700 tonnes in May 2018, compared to the 572,500 tonnes of exports to China.” Other countries are also accepting lower grades of RCP, creating a new home for the scrap and environmental concerns for these countries.

Some countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, have already resolved to tighten their inspections of RCP imports to have more control on what enters their countries. Depending on other Asian countries to act as a dumping ground does come with several risks. Could heightened restrictions and more import bans surface as a result?

Finding a Home for the Scrap

There is growing concern regarding where the RCP will end up, as landfills are the least favorable option. Eventually, RCP does end up making its way to China as recycled pulp. RISI comments on this phenomenon when they mention, “According to China's trade data, China imported about 17,000 tonnes of recycled pulp in the first quarter, compared to about 12,000 tonnes in the entire year of 2017.” The data may be demonstrating a significant decrease here, but there are substantial import increases seen from other Southeast Asian countries to China.

Moving Forward

As optimistic as we would like to be, the RCP and paper market challenges are not expected to end soon. Even in facing these obstacles, Berg Mill continues to stay updated on the trade disputes and any news relevant to China’s regulations. We await more information on the RCP ban, and we hope the pulp and paper industry can develop a positive change soon.

At Berg Mill, we continue to work hard to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities. We would like to help you move off any paper, plastic, or metal scrap. Berg Mill has the expertise and know-how to navigate through these troubled waters.

If you handle large amounts of recycled waste and are looking for solutions to offload idle scrap, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply.