Plastics recycler points to shrinking market in China

Plastics recycler points to shrinking market in China

CSPA President Steve Wong says concerns are mounting that more than half of the sector’s companies could exit the market.

July 11, 2017
Recycling Today Staff
International Recycling News Legislation & Regulations Plastics

In an emailed report to members headlined “Policy execution – industry in doldrums,” Dr. Steve Wong, executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association, says end markets for plastic scrap in China are shrinking because of rigid inspection programs being carried out by Chinese government agencies.

Wong, who also is chairman of Hong Kong-based Fukutomi Co. Ltd. and sits on committees of the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), says a Central Task Force established by China’s President Xi Jinping “is putting into execution the corrective actions on all polluting industries, particularly recycling of solid [waste] and plastic [scrap], targeting the operations with imported [materials].”

He continues, “Being target-oriented, all factories holding import licenses for plastic [scrap] recycling have to go through a round of intense inspections by a high-caliber inspection team of 1,700 well-trained inspectors, teamed up from various parts of China.”

Wong says the teams expect to complete their work in July 2017, and, at the end of the month, “import permit reductions which could be up to 60 percent” could be in place, “according to market rumors.”

Among the aspects of direct interest to inspectors, says Wong, are:

1) compliance with pollution control and management; and

2) audits related to import permits and their potential illegal use.

Inspectors also will look into whether there is malfeasance on the part of local government departments, he says.

“It is expected that a number of recycling factories will hardly be able to meet the strict standards and may face the problem of import permit curtailments, or even [having permits] entirely rescinded,” says the plastic recycling executive. “Some factories chose to slow down their production to avoid excessive pollutants being discharged (and failure in inspection), while others could not maintain smooth production due to removal of [processing] machines not on their listed ‘environmental impacts assessment report,’” writes Wong.

Other plastic recycling and scrap consuming firms, he notes have had to “suspend production until the import of plastic scrap has resumed after new import permits are released.”

In addition to the July effort, Wong says China’s AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) also is tightening its quality control regimen on plastic scrap imports. “Importers identified to have ‘polluting waste’ imported will be down-graded, and the importer and relevant overseas supplier will be subject to 100 percent goods checking at by Customs for a period of 90 days,” he writes. “The period of 100 percent goods checking will last for 180 days on a second-time violation, [and] AQSIQ registration can be revoked if a further violation is found during that second stage of 180 days’ control. “

Wong concludes, “With the industry in the doldrums and with trading activities slowed down, the supply of and demand for [plastic scrap] has been upset.”