The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has urged the Chinese authorities to be clearer about the materials included in its newly proposed ban and to incorporate such clarification in official standards.
ISRI made the comments as it released it official response to the World Trade Organization after China announced it would revise its Identification Standards for Solid Wastes General Rules (‘the Standard’).
These relate to imports into China, and the changes will ban certain grades such as plastic film and unsorted papers from the new year.
The Washington-based organisation represents more than 1,100 companies in the US and 35 other countries that process or deal in metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics and textiles.
It says it is holding high-level discussions with the US government and communicating directly with the Chinese government. It is co-ordinating efforts globally to influence China, with the support of the Bureau of International Recycling.
IRSI said it supported the efforts of the Chinese Government to protect the health and welfare of its citizens and the environment, but suggested that a greater distinction was possible between scrap materials used as raw materials as distinct from waste that has no value or use.
“Unfortunately, the Standard as drafted uses the term ‘solid waste’ inclusive of both trash and scrap, creating confusion and uncertainty within the US and global recycling industry.
“Simply put, scrap is not waste. Waste – often called ‘trash’, ‘refuse’ or ‘garbage’ – is a material that has no value and is not wanted. Wastes are disposed of because they are no longer useful.
”In contrast, scrap – often called ‘recyclable material’ or ‘secondary material’ – is a valuable commodity sold in the global marketplace according to industry-wide, globally recognised specifications as a raw material in lieu of virgin materials for manufacturing.”
The statement says that ISRI “respectfully requests” the Chinese government to use more specific terminology in reference to recyclable materials in order to properly distinguish between high-value scrap commodities and waste.
“This is an opportunity to incorporate such terminology in the Standard and other rules and regulations under consideration by the Chinese Government,” it adds.