Higher than accepted paper contamination in exports from the UK to China seems to have caused Chinese authorities to increase the number of inspections carried out, with many in the industry reporting 100 per cent inspections at certain ports.
Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises UK managing director Paul Briggs believes that recently there has been a decline in the quality of UK paper being exported. He said: There is some poor quality out there in terms of other papers and worse, contaminates. China is determined not to be a dumping ground for substandard material, so theyre putting their foot down and have decided to open every container coming into the country. This level of inspection has never been seen before and there is a two or three week backlog of containers sitting at the ports. Anyone who ships substandard material better be nervous.
An industry insider believes that not all ports are checking every container but named Shanghai, Xingang, Xiamen and Huang Pu as the main ones. He said the strict rules are due to Chinas rigorous inspection controls, and stressed that contamination is being found in the containers, such as empty plastic bottles, rather than landfill rubbish.
He said: It is unusual that this level of inspection is happening, as weve not experienced it before. Checking every container is a very man-intensive process and the turn-around time on the dock is taking a lot longer.
The extra inspections are not expected to affect paper prices or industry as a whole, however another insider warned of the need for UK quality to compete on a worldwide market. He said:
The main concern for China is the amount of commingled material sent out of the UK, as it could be contaminated. Demand from China is pretty good but there are three major sources of supply; Japan which is extremely clean and takes just four days to ship; America which has good fibre content and takes 18-20 days to ship and the UK, which has a bit more contamination and can take 30-40 days to ship. There is great deal of competition for the UK, so quality is everything and China wont accept material if its sub-standard. Half of what we export goes to China so its extremely big business and we need the export industry going forward.
Recycling Association secretary David Symmers commented: Chinese customs and the Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) the official body in China which controls import standards - have been very tough for years. Its not something that is unduly concerning people who are shipping to China.
MRW contacted the UK branch of the AQSIQ, the China Commercial Inspection Company (CCIC), but it declined to comment.