It’s no secret that China is a leader in international world trade. For years, the country has been a major importer of many types of foreign goods, including timber, dairy products, and petrochemicals. China is also the world’s largest importer of waste. Last year, Chinese manufacturers and recyclers imported 7.3 million metric tons of waste plastics (valued at $3.7 billion), accounting for 56 percent of world imports in that category. It also took in more than half of the world’s exports of waste paper.
One report indicates that buyers in China are desperately seeking domestic sources of recovered paper. Meanwhile, low-value plastics are flooding the European market, but processors there have limited ability to handle those loads.
A common complaint about China’s restriction on scrap materials imports is the lack of solid information about what exactly the upcoming ban will target. A Canadian plastics group is taking data-gathering into its own hands.
Chinese authorities have released more specifics about which materials are likely to be affected by a proposed import ban on recovered materials. The action is expected to be implemented at the end of this year.