NEWSBREAK: China banning solid waste imports in 2021, but ferrous scrap exempted

China will ban the import of all solid waste from 2021 for environmental reasons, but ferrous scrap will not be affected by the move.

Well-placed sources with deep knowledge of government policy told Fastmarkets on Wednesday July 1 that the ban – announced by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment a day earlier – does not affect imports of the steelmaking raw material.

Import restrictions imposed since July 2019 have significantly slowed the inflow of ferrous scrap into China. The Chinese government issues limited import quotas for scrap from time to time.

Since the restrictions were put into place, Chinese mills that have strong demand for scrap have been urging the authorities to introduce a new set of standards to allow the reopening of the country to imports, especially since they are now cheaper than domestic supply.

For instance, Fastmarkets’ assessment for steel scrap heavy scrap domestic, delivered mill China was at 2,600-2,640 yuan ($368-373) per tonne including value-added tax on June 29, while that for steel scrap H2 export, fob main port Japan was ¥24,000-24,500 ($223-227) on June 24.

Sources in and out of China expect new scrap imports standards to be implemented in the first quarter of 2021, though a source at the China Association of Metal Scrap Utilization – one of the entities tasked with drawing up the new standards – said it was hard to give a timeline of the rollout at this stage.