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EXCLUSIVE: Chinese recyclers urge exporters to focus on quality

China’s plastics recycling trade body has warned exporters in the UK to increase their focus on materials quality in light of greater scrutiny from Chinese authorities.

MRW exclusive

Recovered plastics sent to China should not be “heavily contaminated” with metals, mud, sand, high humidity or organic substances, Steve Wong, president of China Scrap Plastics Association (CSPA) and chief executive of Hong Kong-based recycler Fukutomi Co. Ltd, told MRW.

“Moreover, the information given, such as material descriptions, weight, colour, packing should be as accurate as possible to avoid trouble at customs.”

Wong also advised UK recyclers to accumulate the same type of materials for a full container load rather than mixing different types in the same container.

The advice comes as Chinese authorities consider stricter requirements for the import of recycled plastics.

According to Wong, in May, Chinese customs reclassified repro pellets from “raw materials” to “scrap plastics”, leading to factories that import that material having to demonstrate that they had recycling permits in place. Chinese authorities also proposed a ban on black recycling pellets as they considered it highly contaminated.

“Many manufacturers in China yelled because their imported recycled pellets were stuck at the customs due to failure in showing themselves as approved recyclers,” said Wong.

“CSPA organised a series of meetings with different customs offices of major ports in China and the acting chief secretary. The customs finally worked out the ‘three unified – same colour, same size and same packaging’ policy to allow import of recycled pellets.”

Wong said that Chinese authorities have also introduced “initiatives on controlling the import of scrap polystyrene materials and polyolefin materials”.

China has been trying to clampdown on the import of low quality recyclables since last year, when it launched Operation Green Fence.

The operation has now ended, but many believe the demand for higher quality import has remained.

However, the British Plastics Federation has said the quality of materials exported from the UK has not increased, as exporters have found new destinations for their secondary plastics.

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