maersk shipping container
Maersk has joined several other shipping lines in declining to ship scrap to Chinese ports in late 2020.
Photo by Brian Taylor

Maersk joins shipping lines avoiding scrap to China

World’s largest container shipper joins several other lines in avoiding risk tied to pending Chinese regulations.

July 22, 2020

Denmark-based Maersk, often listed as the world’s largest container shipping line, has announced it will not accept cargo classified as “solid waste” by the People’s Republic of China destined for ports in that nation for vessels departing on or after Sept. 1.

Maersk, with more than 700 large container ships in its fleet, according to, joins a growing list of other shippers who do not want to be exposed to a regulation that states China will hold shipping lines among those responsible for the return or disposal of scrap materials that fail to meet import standards.

In China, highly recyclable materials with established market value, including ferrous and nonferrous scrap and old corrugated containers (OCC), are classified as “solid waste” by government agencies. The nation is reportedly preparing to reclassify some high-grade copper and aluminum scrap grades as “resources,” but procedures to do so have not been finalized, having missed an initial July 1, 2020, target date.

An advisory posted to the Maersk website July 20 states in part, “To fully comply with government requirements of the People’s Republic of China about zero solid waste import as of 2021, Maersk would like to inform you that solid waste acceptance will be stopped into the destinations of Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong, effective Sept. 1, 2020 (scheduled departure date).”

Adds Maersk, “This is applicable to all solid waste cargo including waste paper, scrap metal, used plastics, waste textile, waste chemicals and etc.”

In June, Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) and Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd made similar announcements. In mid-July, Taiwan-based Yang Ming followed suit, according to a weekly briefing from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). lists MSC as the world’s second-largest container shipping line with more than 500 large vessels, Hapag-Lloyd ranks fifth with about 230 ocean-going vessels, and Yang Ming ranks eighth with nearly 100 ocean-going container ships.