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China pollution

China waste imports plunge after new curbs on foreign refuse take effect

Imports drop by a quarter after new regulations take effect

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 10:02pm

China’s scrap metal imports in March fell by 24.6 per cent from a year ago as new curbs on foreign solid waste came into effect, while waste paper imports slid by 54.2 per cent and the country imported zero waste plastic.

New impurity limits – set at 1 per cent for nonferrous metal, and at 0.5 per cent for paper, plastics and ferrous metal – were announced by China last year and had already affected shipments but only officially came into force on March 1.

China imported a total of 570,000 tonnes of scrap metal last month, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday, versus 760,000 tonnes a year ago and 440,000 tonnes in February, when the country had a week-long holiday for Lunar New Year.

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Scrap copper imports were at 220,000 tonnes last month, down 37.7 per cent from March 2017.

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment last week confirmed that imports of Category 7 scrap copper – such as coiled copper cable and waste motors – would be banned from the end of this year.

Import quotas for scrap copper have already been falling.

Meanwhile, China imported 180,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap last month, up from 119,737 tonnes in February but down 5.6 per cent year-on-year.

China said on April 2 that it would impose a 25 per cent tariff on aluminium scrap from the United States in retaliation against US steel and aluminium tariffs imposed in March.

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Waste paper imports were 1.42 million tonnes last month, down 54.2 per cent from a year earlier but up from 1.27 million tonnes in February, while waste plastic imports were at zero, and were just 10,000 tonnes for the entire first quarter after coming in at virtually zero in February.

China’s overall imports of foreign solid waste – including waste paper, waste plastics and scrap metal – fell by roughly half from a year ago to 2 million tonnes in March, data earlier this month showed.