Wong: Many plastics recyclers likely to fail China's inspection blitz

Asia: The plastics recycling industry is 'in the doldrums' as China continues the reform of its solid waste import management system with a round of intense inspections throughout the month of July, reports Dr Steve Wong, executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association and a member of the plastics and e-scrap committees of the BIR world recycling organisation.

As part of the Chinese government’s clampdown on industries regarded as ‘polluting’, members from a team of 1700 inspectors are visiting all factories holding import licences for plastic waste recycling and conducting strict checks on environmental impact controls to ensure compliance with the law.

In addition to an environmental impact assessment, production management processes will be reviewed to ensure they meet good standard practice. Use of import permits will also be audited to identify any illegal use, Wong explains.

A large number of factories ‘will not be able to pass’ these inspections as most ‘do not achieve very strict compliance and control on production pollution’ but rather ‘follow what has become the prevailing industry norm’, according to Wong. The exceptions are ‘a few newer, high-profile factories’, he adds.

The rumoured aim of the inspection blitz is import permit reductions of up to 60%, Wong goes on to report. Already to date, some factories have opted to slow their output to avoid excessive pollution discharge while others have suspended production until new plastic scrap import permits are released.

Meanwhile, restrictions on imports of certain types of plastic waste - including household waste, agricultural films and e-scrap - have already commenced in the last two months, according to Wong. At the same time, China’s AQSIQ is tightening quality controls on plastic waste imports.

An importer found to have brought in polluting waste - and also the relevant overseas supplier - will be subject to 100% goods checking by customs for a period of 90 days.

This 100% checking will be extended to 180 days on a second violation and AQSIQ registration could be revoked if any further contravention is discovered during this latter period.

‘With the industry in the doldrums and with trading activities having slowed down, supply and demand have been upset,’ says Wong.


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