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Ferrous and stainless scrap import standards drafted in China

A central government agency has drafted a list of potentially acceptable ferrous and stainless scrap grades.

November 5, 2020

A central government agency in the People’s Republic of China reportedly has issued a draft set of standards for grades of ferrous scrap that would be permitted to enter that nation in the near future.

An online article from Argus Media indicates China's State Administration for Market Regulation has drafted a document listing acceptable imported grades and is seeking comments from companies in the steel and scrap recycling industries.

An English translation of that document, posted to the Argus website, defines 13 carbon steel (ferrous) scrap grades and two stainless steel scrap grades proposed for acceptance at Chinese ports.

Both stainless grades require sheared and baled material, with one specified for 10 percent or greater chromium content (known as RS-602). The other grade, known as RS-601, applies to austenitic stainless scrap with 6 percent or greater nickel content.

Of the more than a dozen ferrous grades, four are for shredded material, six are for cut grades and three for baled or bundled scrap.

The specified measurements for materials are metric, and many of the cut grade specifications, at 1.5 meters, are close to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) export specifications for heavy melting steel (HMS), which call for 1.524 meters as a maximum length. According to Argus, that is likely to be well received by exporters, who would rather not have adjusted to a one-meter maximum length specified in the Chinese domestic steel and scrap market.

Throughout 2020, as China’s government has issued scrap quotas, only modest amounts of ferrous scrap have been approved for entry, compared to aluminum, copper and recovered fiber quotas.

However, steelmaking and recycling associations in China have been working with the government to seek new standards to import both ferrous and stainless steel scrap in 2021, after the government’s strict deadline against “waste” imports.