The Chinese Government has announced the intent to implement a new standards regime for imports of copper, brass, and aluminum derived from recycling, and the new standards were posted over the weekend. Although the system does not completely reopen the Chinese market to scrap trade, it is a major indication that the Chinese Government finally acknowledges that scrap commodities are valuable products and imports, and should not be managed under the same guidelines for “solid waste.” This is a major achievement after two decades of ISRI advocating that Scrap is Not Waste.

  • New standards to be implemented later this year for recycled nonferrous metals imports.
  • Material must be 90-99.5% contaminate free (depending on grade) and ready for the smelter.
  • The announcement marks the culmination of 20 years of ISRI advocacy that scrap are valuable commodities, should be pulled out of the “solid waste” regime, and that there is no one-size-fits-all standard for all grades.

Our partners at the China Nonferrous Metals Association Recycling Branch (CMRA) published charts indicating the required metal recovery content and contamination limits, but we are told that more detailed rules to accompany these standards will soon be published by the Standardization Administration of China.  As we await the detailed regulation, we are making available the charts provided by CMRA as well as charts published in Fastmarkets on January 20.

The required metal content and limitations on contamination are not set at one level for all grades, another indication that the Chinese Government acknowledges that a one-sized-fits-all approach is not in line with market conditions. It is our understanding that Zorba will be categorized as “aluminum pieces” under the new standards.

We have not yet heard if the Chinese Government will impose import quotas on materials that meet these new standards. However, we do know that materials originating from the United States will continue to be levied 25 percent import tariffs under the U.S.-China trade war. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that our members take every step to ensure that the materials are processed responsibly and meets the criteria set out by the new rules. We also encourage our members to know your customers to ensure that the material is handled and consumed responsibly upon receipt.

We will provide additional information and guidance once we receive the full regulation.

“ISRI has been advocating to the Chinese Government for nearly 20 years that scrap should be pulled out of the “solid waste” import regime and recognized as a valuable raw material. It appears China is doing just that with selected grades of scrap, for which we salute China for setting this important precedent. We continue to urge the Chinese Government to take steps to recognize all recyclable commodities as valuable products and call on other governments around the world to follow their lead in recognizing scrap is not waste but a necessary ingredient for achieving a green economy.”  Adina Renee Adler, Assistant Vice President, International Affairs

Source: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.