BIR Autumn Round-Tables: Import Controls Not Exclusive to China

During the BIR’s Paper Division meeting, speakers said challenges related to shipping material are growing.

November 5, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Conferences & Events Legislation & Regulations Paper

During the fall meeting of the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling’s Paper Division, Reinhold Schmidt of Germany’s Recycling Karla Schmidt, noted that there are a host of factors driving paper recycling markets as of late.

In his first meeting as president of BIR’s Paper Division, Schmidt noted that overcapacity among graphic paper producers, China’s “Green Fence” import quality controls, the slowdown in China’s economic growth and the Euro crisis have all posed challenges for paper recyclers. He added to this list over-regulation of the recycling markets and damaging examples of protectionism.

Also discussing trends in the paper recycling industry was Ranjit Baxi, former Paper Division president and founder of J & H Sales International, a paper recycling firm headquartered in the U.K. In his remarks, Baxi highlighted the presence of protectionism, pointing in particular to the negative effect of delays for exporters through “excessive” documentation demands and random spot inspections at the point of export in Europe. Baxi also underlined that China was not alone in imposing import quality controls: for example, major recovered fiber buyer India had issued as far back as 2010 a list with many of these specifications being stricter than those currently enforced by China.

Following up on the trend with regulation, Merja Helander of the Finnish paper company Lassila & Tikanoja pointed out that progress had been achieved through the European Commission and Council of Ministers by the regulation setting end-of-waste criteria for recovered paper. In her role as president of the European Recovered Paper Association (ERPA), she urged all interested parties to push for agreement with the Council proposal for end-of-waste by the European Parliament—something which, she said, would bring smart regulation to the EU paper recycling industry.

During the paper session, Helander, joined by Paper Division Past President Dominique Maguin of France, Lars-Gunnar Almryd of IL Recycling in Sweden, and General Delegate Thomas Braun of Germany’s BVSE reviewed the latest recovered paper market conditions across Europe. All noted that a trend continuing throughout Europe has been declining collection volumes.

As for exports to China, Baxi, observed that U.S. recovered fiber shipments to China increased around 30 percent from the first half of 2009 to the same period in 2013, while during the same time exports from Europe to China dropped by around 12 percent.

During the Paper Committee presentation, Bill Moore with Moore Associates, Atlanta, noted that U.S. and Canadian demand for old news and old magazines would slide from 4.82 million metric tons in 2010 to 3.49 million metric tons in 2016. He termed ONP “a disappearing grade” in the United States. North American consumption of OCC and kraft would be far more stable, rising from 19.01 million metric tons to 19.43 million metric tons over the same period, he added.

Ilpo Ervasti, senior advisor at the independent consulting firm Indufor Oy, based in Finland, spoke of the chaos affecting recycling-related terminology in the paper and board industry. The 365 trade grades identified globally were “partly overlapping” and “not well-defined”, underlining the need for “one uniform, global system for paper-related terms and variables” in order to “enable comparisons between regions.”

The BIR conference was held in Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 30-31, 2013.