China releases new proposed contaminants thresholds

China releases new proposed contaminants thresholds

ISRI alerts members of China’s WTO filing, says proposed thresholds are "still of great concern."

November 16, 2017

In an alert to its members dated Nov. 16, 2017, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, says the Chinese government has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intent to adopt new standards for the allowable contaminants thresholds for scrap imports.

The Chinese government notified the WTO Nov. 15 of its intent to adopt Environmental Protection Control Standards for Imported Solid Wastes as Raw Materials (GB 16487.2-13), which set the allowable contaminants thresholds for scrap imports, according to ISRI. The initial set of draft standards China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) issued in August of this year proposed a 0.3 percent limit for "carried wastes" across all secondary commodities.

ISRI reports that in its Nov. 15 filing with the WTO, China proposed the following standards for contamination, which would apply beginning March 1, 2018:

  • smelt slag, 0.5 percent;
  • wood, 0.5 percent;
  • paper, 0.5 percent;
  • ferrous, 0.5 percent;
  • nonferrous, 1 percent;
  • electric motors, 0.5 percent;
  • wires and cables, 0.5 percent;
  • metal and appliances, 0.5 percent;·
  • vessels, 0.05 percent;
  • plastic, 0.5 percent; and
  • autos, 0.3 percent.

In its alert to members, the association states: “Although ISRI is pleased to see that there has been movement away from the 0.3 percent thresholds, the new proposed threshold levels are still of great concern.”

A previous email alert dated Nov. 13 from ISRI’s government relations department indicated that ISRI’s industry contacts thought the Chinese government would finalize these thresholds in two to four weeks at 1 percent for ferrous and nonferrous metals, 1 percent for paper and 0.5 percent for plastics, with ISRI noting, “This information has been reported in the media, but it cannot be confirmed until the Chinese government issues the final regulation.”

ISRI says comments about this recent proposal can be submitted to the WTO by Dec. 15, 2017. The association says it plans to do so with the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and “peer organizations around the world to ensure our industry's positions are heard and understood.”

Members of ISRI can contact the association to learn how to send comments to the WTO or to provide input to ISRI's comments. ISRI’s Senior Director for Government Relations & International Affairs Adina Renee Adler can be contacted at