December 15, 2017 - businessGreen, GreenBiz
APR in the News
US companies deconstruct China's recycling import ban
Some Western companies see China's upcoming crackdown on imported waste as an opportunity to upgrade their operations and use more recyclables in their own manufacturing, but challenges abound.
In a bid to improve its image and decrease environmental health hazards, China will stop accepting 24 kinds of waste by Dec 31, including difficult-to-recycle plastic types three to seven, electronics waste and mixed paper normally headed toward its sorting and recycling facilities from around the world.
Every day, about 3,700 shipping containers of recyclables are shipped to China, one of the world's top destinations for recycling due to its cheap prices for shipping and sorting waste and low levels of regulation. As China clamps down on the amount of hazardous contamination in its recycling bales, many of these shipments now idle in Hong Kong ports.
"Recycling is a unique industry, but at the end of the day, it's a manufacturing environment. When demand for a product decreases, you can't stop the inbound flow," said Brent Bell, president of Waste Management's Recycle America program.
US companies are scrambling to increase recycling capacity since recycled PET, PE, PVC and PS plastics, vanadium slag, recovered mixed paper and textiles will be banned by 2018. Scrap and waste are the nation's sixth-largest export to China. Meanwhile, low gas prices have spurred $185bn in investments in US petrochemical manufacturing.