Beijing released the first set of imported metal scrap quotas for 2020 earlier this week, establishing a maximum of 550 thousand metric tons of imported metal scrap for use by importers starting next month.
On Monday, China’s Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Bureau gave permission for 275,465 metric tons of aluminium scrap and 270,885 metric tons of high-grade copper scrap to cross its borders next year. Since the implementation of scrap quotas in July, Beijing has authorized over 474,000 metric tons of scrap aluminium and 560,000 tons of scrap copper.
The government instituted quotas for reasons of environmental preservation, but such quotas have created a growing gap between demand and supply that the country’s economy isn’t currently able to fill.
Some relief may come toward the middle of next year, when Beijing plans to have a new set of standards in place. At present, scrap metals are classified as waste, and a separate policy is in place that aims to reduce the amount of imported trash to the Middle Kingdom to zero. However, Beijing says the new standards will not identify scrap metal as waste, making it again legal to freely import.
At present, buyers must still obtain permits, which are issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, with most going to date to buyers in Zhejiang and Guangdong. A handful of ports in southeast China have been authorized by the government to receive imported scrap metals.