China’s proposed scrap standards ‘not possible’, ISRI says

Newly proposed standards by China’s government could effectively prohibit scrap imports into the country if implemented, according the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

In its draft of changes to some technical standards for imported scrap, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection called for stricter regulations for impurities as well as new weight requirements for metal and electrical appliances.

The changes include reducing the “carried waste” threshold to 0.3% for all commodities imported into the country, a drastic requirement that ISRI said cannot be met and which could have dire consequences on the industry.

“The application of this standard will effectively result in a ban on the importation of all these commodities. It is simply not possible to achieve such a control level, nor is it possible to even measure it with such accuracy,” ISRI president Robin Wiener said in a letter addressed to the Department of Soil Environment Management and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

This is the USA-based trade organization’s third public letter addressing the new policies this month.

The standards followed by the global recycling industry vary by commodity and were determined through an open and deliberative process to reflect manufacturing standards and needs, according to Wiener.

Market sources told Metal Bulletin sister title AMM that the impurity tolerance for Category 7 imports was previously 2% and that the new standard is so tight that even some Category 6 items could be at threat if the threshold is not loosened.

Another change affects the weight requirement for metal and electrical appliance scrap items, setting the minimum recyclable-metal content at no less than 80% of the total weight of the material.

“In the USA, a 50% threshold is used when defining what is considered legitimate scrap metal for recycling. For consistency in the global trade, we would respectfully request that a uniform standard of 50% be used within China as well,” Wiener said.

AMM understands that the policy is still under discussion, with some scrap market participants set to meet in China’s Jiangxi province to discuss it in greater detail on Saturday September 2.

Kiki Kang in Shanghai contributed to this report.