Chinese plastic scrap importers acknowledge that their environmental role is underappreciated.
“The mission to recycle makes plastic recycling quite an honorable industry,” said Jason Wang, secretary-general and executive vice president of the China Scrap Plastics Association (CSPA), in opening remarks at the start of RePlas 2013 Autumn, held in Hangzhou, China in November.
Yet Wang and subsequent speakers also acknowledged that plastic recycling and the importing of plastic scrap into China has undergone an undeniable image problem.
Current CSPA executive president Dr. Steve Wong, who also is president of Hong Kong-based Fukutomi Co. Ltd., said too many media reports “refer to our industry as ‘foreign garbage.’ We need to coordinate better with the media and share with them our process and to promote it.”
Later in the event, presenter Dr. Tan Jun from the anti-smuggling division of China Customs reported that plastics recyclers have had a major presence in enforcement actions taken by his agency.
In 2013, 62 percent by volume of the imported material by volume deemed to be solid waste was represented as plastic scrap on customs forms. As well, 76 percent of incidences involving the unauthorized use of an import license by a recycler were by recyclers claiming to be in the plastics business, according to Tan.
CSPA President Dr. Du Huanzheng said business owners in general, including plastics recyclers, “have debts we owe to society.” Showing a slide of an open dump engaged in open burning with mixed plastics visible, Du commented, “Chinese people value re-paying debts.”
Du said the future of plastic recycling in China will likely include “Eco parks,” which he called “the trend of the future for cities to deal with their waste.” Sounding a note of optimism, Du said he wants “Asia to lead in safeguarding the environment.”
RePlas 2013 Autumn was Nov. 6-8 at New World Century Grand Hotel in Hangzhou, China.