Chinese paper mills are choosing to import material from other countries because it is better quality than that of the UK, the Recycling Association has warned.
Chief executive Simon Ellin said his recent meetings with international colleagues in China revealed that countries such as Germany and the US had pulled ahead of the UK in importing mills’ preference.
Ellin said Chinese mills would buy all their material either domestically or from Japan if possible, for quality and ease of transportation reasons, but they still needed material from elsewhere.
In terms of imports to China, Germany is ahead of the UK on quality while the US is favoured due to its shorter shipping times and higher virgin material content.
Writing for MRW, Ellin described a visit to the Zhejiang Ji-an Mill in Jiaxing, where he inspected some bales that had been sent from the UK.
One of those he looked at had high contamination, which Ellin estimated to be more than the country’s 1.5% acceptance threshold, including a nappy.
While other bales from the UK were of a much higher quality, Ellin said such examples were an “embarrassment” and had to be avoided in a competitive market.
He said: “If the UK wants to continue being a prime destination that Chinese buyers head to, we’ve got to be up with the best and put quality first.
“We are in competition with countries from around the world, and they are working hard to improve the quality of their material. We have got to do the same.”