China’s customs agency may reconsider some plastic scrap restrictions

China’s customs agency may reconsider some plastic scrap restrictions

Nation’s customs agency reportedly also arrests 39 people for signing off on plastic scrap and metal slags.

November 14, 2017
Recycling Today Staff

Steve Wong, executive vice president of the China Plastic Scrap Association (CSPA) and chairman of Hong Kong-based Fukutomi Co. Ltd., has sent two emails to members spelling out new enforcement efforts in China directed toward companies that import scrap materials.

Wong notes that several forms of plastic scrap are scheduled to be banned by end of 2018, though he is increasingly hearing that “China would not close the door entirely, as ‘reasonableness’ is the spirit of the rule.” He continues, “It is perceived that there is a possible leeway of certain forms of plastic scrap, such as washed flakes, allowed for import in 2018, if it can be justified by a ‘recognized standard’ as feedstock for finished goods production without prior processing,” writes Wong.

At the CSPA’s conference in early November 2017, Wong writes he had the chance to talk to the director of China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), including about whether China in 2018 may yet accept some imported items such as washed flakes.

Wong writes, “While he is supportive [and[ says that it is reasonable for the GAC to consider [it] based on a set of recognized standards: a standard recognizing that the washed flakes can be classified as industrial or secondary materials [that] can be used directly as feedstock for production of finished goods without prior processing.”

Wong continues, “To justify that raw materials for finished goods production need not necessarily be in the form of pellets, it is desirable that once the plastic scrap can meet such standards, it can be classified as industrial in nature regardless the origin of it, and [it can] be categorized with a unique HS (harmonized system) code tantamount to pellet and be allowed for importing.”  

Wong also cites a news release from China’s GAC dated Nov. 11, 2017, that spells out “a crackdown action” carried out by the agency in six cities, including Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Shantou, with the support of the police force.

The joint actions reportedly seized 39 suspects on charges related to “smuggling plastic waste and slags” amounting to 33,000 tons. The agency also seized what it considered to be relevant documentary evidence.

The use of third-party permits was part of the investigation, and the plastic scrap is then sold to what Wong calls “unqualified small factories and workshops for processing.”