ISRI responded to China’s scrap ban on behalf of the recycling industry

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Source: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.

Washington, DC, USA — The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has responded to China’s intent to ban certain scrap imports. ISRI is requesting a revision of the policy to avoid a disruption in trade as well as clarification of the ban’s scope.

As the Voice of the Recycling Industry, ISRI supports free and fair trade and opposes measures that restrict the free flow of specification-grade commodities around the world. In an effort to prevent imported waste from polluting the environment, China’s ban on “solid waste” will have a negative economic impact on the recycling industries in the United States and China, the manufacturing sector in China that relies on these highly valuable commodities, and the environmental sustainability opportunities from the use of recyclable materials in China.

In a special statement, ISRI fully supports the efforts of the Chinese Government to improve environmental protection and standards within its domestic recycling infrastructure. However, the institute disagrees that a ban on the import of specification‐grade scrap materials will help with those efforts. The Notification provided to the WTO includes within the scope of “solid wastes” to be prohibited by China certain recovered papers, plastics and metals that are produced within the United States to a specification‐grade and then exported to manufacturers in China to be transformed into new products. These materials are very clearly valuable scrap commodities and not solid wastes.

The paper runs: „For recycled commodities such as recovered paper and fiber, plastic scrap, and copper scrap, China accounts for more than half of the world’s total imports. Thus, any change in Chinese policy concerning the import of these commodities will be quickly felt around the world. This is particularly relevant to the U.S. recycling industry, as the United States is the largest scrap exporter and China is our largest trading partner. In any given year approximately 30 percent of the scrap processed within the United States is prepared for export to industrial consumers around the world demanding high quality scrap. While exports move from the United States to more than 150 countries worldwide, China is the U.S. recycling industry’s largest customer, accounting for 40 percent of exports. The WTO notification, and the subsequent policy statement, puts this high quality trade in jeopardy, especially if scrap imports are drastically reduced – or completely prohibited, as by one interpretation.“

According to ISRI, clarity is needed on what Materials are specifically to be prohibited: „We recognize that a change in the terminology used by China is a long term effort, but what is very much needed in the short term is clarity on what materials are specifically intended by the Chinese to be included in any ban. It is our understanding that Chinese manufacturers continue to demand the high quality scrap commodities supplied from the United States, and it is certainly the intent of the U.S. recycling industry to fulfill those orders with materials that meet specifications and comply with Chinese rules and regulations.“ However, under the Notification to the TBT committee and the subsequent policy statement, is not clear whether the industry can continue to ship its products into China. Therefore, ISRI request clarification on specifically what is to be forbidden in the two largest categories of materials that account for the vast majority of trade to be impacted by this notification: paper and plastic.

The full statement can be downloaded under isri.org.

Source: The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI)