They say that when China sneezes, the world catches a cold. This is certainly coming to fruition as the Chinese government’s scrap import restrictions – although not officially in place – have already changed the nature of global scrap trade.
can the same also be true that when China changes a paradigm the rest of the world
could stand up and listen? We might have
that opportunity now.
November, ISRI attended the China Nonferrous Metals Association (CMRA) annual
event took place under the gloom of China’s evolving regulatory structure.
was significantly lower with the exhibit hall being one-third of last year’s
In a surprisingly open dialogue session, Chinese companies were worried about their
future under the new regulations. But, there were no government officials
in the room.
Earlier in the day, there was a veritable parade of government officials present from
various agencies that have responsibility over the recycling industry.
CMRA convention was just weeks after the conclusion of the 19th
Party Congress which is a major political event that happens only every five years.
official reiterated the government’s
intent to improve environmental conditions.
explained how increasing domestic
recycling while curbing “solid waste” imports would contribute to the
ultimate goal of a “Beautiful China” by the year 2035.
biggest surprise of all was a presentation by the Ministry of Environmental Protection
(MEP) acknowledging that trash and scrap
are handled differently.
said more effort should be made to educate
the Chinese people about the differences between scrap and waste.
said the 19th Party Congress’ final document acknowledges this
ISRI has been fighting for
years to increase awareness that scrap is not waste. For China, more clear
distinctions in rules and regulations could prevent unwanted trash from
accumulating in China but not at the detriment of high value scrap commodities
in great demand by China’s manufacturers. This recent announcement by the
Chinese government is just one step. There would be reams of Chinese
legislation and regulations to modify in order to make laws on solid waste that
also impact scrap conform with this changing policy direction. But, it is an
important step forward and possibly the start of a wave that could spread to
other regions in the world.
Renee Adler, (202) 662-8514.