Despite no official announcements on the end of Operation Green Fence, industry insiders believe demand for higher quality will be a permanent feature of the recovered paper market.
When China’s crackdown on the import of low quality material was launched in February 2013 it was understood to be in place for ten months and could therefore terminate in November.
But Paul Briggs, managing director at Mark Lyndon, told MRW: “The operation will not come to an end. They might change the name, but the days of shipping recyclables that have contaminations that is considered unacceptable are gone forever.”
Craig Robinson, purchasing director at Cyclelink told MRW: “Our own belief is that all the principles of Green Fence will remain, it is just a question on whether port authorities will continue to inspect [containers] with the same frequency.”
Members of the recovered paper industry have welcomed the initiative and said that it had a positive impact by rising material quality across the supply chain.
“Green Fence came in and started the process of making everything below the 1.5% contamination levels,” said Briggs.
This was achieved with beefed-up inspections routines on recovered paper loads.
Briggs said agencies had increased inspections of containers leaving the UK, particularly in the past few months as the third phase of operation, dubbed “Earth Goddess”, was launched.
“The English, Scottish and Irish environment agencies have been very active trying to do their best to stop materials that could be classed as illegal to be exported,” he said.
He added there had been incidents of the agencies preventing containers from leaving and charging suppliers and sending materials back for resorting.
Exporters have stepped up their own inspections routines on loads provided by suppliers, according to Briggs.
Robinson said: “We certainly don’t buy anything that we don’t know or see, and we would heavily inspect mixed paper before loading.”
UK paper mills have also become more vigilant on quality the materials they are supplied with.
Andrew Perkins, commercial director at Smurfit Kappa told MRW: “As poor quality [paper] struggles to find a destination, They try to sell it domestically, so we need to be extra vigilant to make sure that it does not find a home into our system.”
He noted that since August the company has stepped up quality checks on incoming goods, with an increase in the number of bales opened and inspected.
“The Green Fence has to be welcome, had brought about a positive pressure, and helped people to understand that fibres are valuable raw materials,” he said.