China’s nonferrous scrap specifications gaining clarity

China’s nonferrous scrap specifications gaining clarity

New rules, set to begin in the second half of this year, call for red metal purity from 94 to 99.9 percent.

January 20, 2020

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation has reportedly published purity standards for red metal and aluminum scrap that can be imported under a “raw materials” rather than a “waste” classification.

Reports by Reuters and other news organizations indicate bare bright copper wire will have to meet a 99.9 percent purity to rate while scrap classified as No. 3 copper by the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) will have to meet a 94 percent purity threshold.

Aluminum scrap likewise will need to meet varying levels of purity, according to Reuters, with cast aluminum scrap levels ranging from 91 to 98 percent while recycled-content ingots need to be 100 percent pure aluminum.

The Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has posted links to the Chinese-language documents detailing the proposed new specifications. The document labeled GB/T38470-2019 pertains to brass scrap; GB/T38471-2019 details copper scrap specifications; and GB/T38472-2019 provides cast aluminum scrap specifications.

The documents, averaging 25 pages in length, include photographic examples of some scrap grades and, in some cases, detailed chemistry specifications or breakdowns.

It remains unclear to what extent customs and environmental officials, having spent more than two years putting scrap materials under intense scrutiny, will get word of the new regulations and allow for a freer flow of nonferrous scrap into China.

Both buyers and sellers of the material contacted by Recycling Today have expressed optimism that the new “resource” classification will, over time, play out as a positive for scrap metal trading between China and the rest of the world.