shipping yardThe Malaysian and Vietnamese governments have followed through on plans to clamp down on recycled material shipments. Both countries have stopped issuing new import permits for certain materials.

The Malaysian government stopped issuing scrap plastic import permits beginning July 23, according to Steve Wong of the China Scrap Plastics Association. The move is a temporary measure that will be in place for three months, Wong said.

“This is to allow time for the authorities to set things right including use of import permits and compliance of pollution controls,” he said.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) said the Malaysian government will require all importers to reapply for permits after the moratorium ends.

In Vietnam, the government on July 25 announced it will no longer grant new licenses for waste material imports, according to state media. The move comes shortly after a press conference held by customs officials in the country during which they described backlogs at ports and growing volumes of stalled containers of recyclables.

The announcement came from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who also “asked for serious investigation of ownerless waste containers that are now occupying large space of the seaports.” He warned that “illegal cases will be strictly punished.”

In a statement to Reuters, the Vietnamese government said its goal is to “prevent waste from entering Vietnam to keep the country from becoming a dumping site, affecting the environment and people’s lives.”

Major ports in Vietnam have already instituted a ban on scrap plastic imports that will be in effect until October, and officials increased inspection requirements for paper shipments.

Despite the current chaos in scrap shipments to these countries, ISRI expressed optimism in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam as future destinations for recovered material once the current hurdles are handled.

ISRI’s trade committee is planning a 2019 trip to Southeast Asia, which it describes as “a high potential growth market for scrap trade given their dynamic economies, growing manufacturing bases, growing middle class and access to major trade lines,” the organization said.

Although Southeast Asian countries have increased their imports significantly this year, the amount of material they’ve absorbed falls far short of filling the void left by China’s disappearance as a buyer.

Photo credit: hxdyl/Shutterstock

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