Months after China ramped up restrictions on scrap plastic imports, countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are initiating similar, if less extensive, policies as officials try to get a handle on massive increases in shipments and improper use of permits.
Major Vietnam shipping terminals will temporarily stop accepting imports of scrap plastic, citing an overload of the material that has caused backups and delays. The move is a significant development for the global recycled plastics industry, because Vietnam has accepted much more material since China cut off imports.
The Chinese government provides an option for pre-shipment inspections, and California lawmakers may add language about National Sword into state law. These are among the recent developments as China continues to revise its import regulations and the U.S. recycling industry reacts.
China has ratcheted up inspection requirements for recyclables imported from the U.S., requiring every load to be opened for inspection and shutting down the only organization providing pre-shipment approval in the U.S.
In the course of one year, Los Angeles-area exporters cut their scrap polyethylene shipments to China by 99 percent, leaving thousands of tons of plastic looking for a home. Other countries were only able to absorb about one-fifth of the volume.