Global intolerance for substandard recovered fibre shipments is at a new high and recyclers are taking many different steps to remain viable suppliers to their customers around the world.
Speaking to attendees of the 2016 Paper Recycling Conference Europe, held in Rotterdam in early November, Netherlands-based attorney Ron Laan of Van Diepen Van der Kroef Advocaten said recyclers must be aware they are now engaged in “risky business” owing to the number of EU or global regulations affecting trans-boundary shipments.
Laan said EU regulations such as its Waste Framework Directive have resulted in considerable paperwork plus considerable liabilities and risks. Paperwork errors alone can entangle shipments, but shipments that fail customs or customer quality inspections can become even more problematic.
Such entanglements often require legal assistance, he said, because the Annex VII documents leave room for negotiation between the shipper and recipient when things go wrong. Laan also said the Netherlands government is planning to enforce a 2% contaminants limit on outbound recovered fibre shipments.
In the United Kingdom, recyclers are taking action to exceed quality standards, says Simon Ellin of the U.K.-based The Recycling Association (TRA).
Ellin said the TRA and its members are striving to prove that the fibre collected from households through government programmes can meet the low contamination thresholds established in Europe, China and throughout the world.
He said Asian mill buyers and U.K. recyclers “both want to get quality right, and we both want to get regulations right.” Ellin told delegates to the conference that the China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC) is one of the newest members of TRA.
Ellin said 46% of the U.K.’s collected scrap paper goes to China, more than the 39% that stays within the U.K. or the 8% that goes to the European continent. He said some material recovery facilities (MRFs) in the U.K. are switching back to dual-stream collection and sorting, keeping plastic, metal and glass containers away from the fiber stream.
The TRA’s Quality First campaign has several goals, said Ellin, including positioning the U.K. as being the “Armani” of the recovered fibre supply industry. He said “educating the supply chain” as to what should go into bins (and then MRFs) is another goal. Ellin cited blister pack envelopes as a recent contaminant that has proven problematic.
Panelist Jay Kedia of Mumbai-based Cellpap Mercantile Pvt. Ltd. told panelists the Indian subcontinent continues to gain momentum as an importer of recovered fibre from Europe and elsewhere.
Kedia said about 85% of India’s paper mills use recovered fibre as feedstock, and the nation’s paper industry consumes 12.5 million tonnes per year annually of scrap paper. While India can use 9.5 million tonnes of internally collected fibre, it imports 3 million tonnes per year, he added.
Kedia said mill buyers in India can be “very specific about the quality” of what they buy, and this often is because they are feeding pulping and mill systems that “do not have the machinery to cope with deviations in quality.”
He characterized Indian buyers as showing a preference to buy from the same packing plants “month-in-and-month-out,” and said the mill sector there is often in the market for de-inking grades, old newspapers (ONP) and mixed sorted office paper. Kedia added that a fondness low moisture levels in their fibre have caused some Indian buyers to prefer Middle Eastern scrap paper suppliers. (The Indian recovered fibre industry will be the focus of attention at the upcoming Paper Recycling Conference India event, taking place 6-7 February 2017.)
The 2016 Paper and Plastics Recycling Conferences Europe were 2-3 November at the Hilton Rotterdam in the Netherlands.