The long-awaited new standards on imported scrap aluminium and copper were published by the government of the People’s Republic of China on Sunday.
The new standards, which will go into effect on July 1, place the minimum aluminium and aluminium alloy content at 100 percent for recycled aluminium ingot, 98 percent for aluminium castings, and 91 percent for aluminium blocks.
For scrap copper imports, minimum content ranged between 99.9 percent and 94 percent.
The State Administration for Market Regulation also changed the classification of scrap metal from waste to resource in order to exempt it from Beijing’s goal of eliminating solid waste imports.
Lion Consulting Asia president Michael Lion elaborated upon the new standards to Reuters yesterday.
“All the other ISRI [Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries] grades … with much lower copper contents and foreign elements (are) also permitted for import based on the full table they’ve established. So copper refineries that refine these grades get their feedstock.”
Immediate reaction to the new standards was mixed. A copper scrap importer told Reuters the new standards seemed strict, which was a sentiment echoed by an unnamed government official. Conversely, an aluminium scrap importer told Reuters that the standards were less strict than expected, and that enforcement of those standards by customs officials may not be as stringent as Beijing hopes.
China instituted quotas on imported scrap aluminium and other imported scrap metals last summer due to environmental concerns and in an effort at spurring on the domestic recycling sector. However, some commentators fear that the government has done too much too soon on the issue, as some aluminium sectors that rely upon scrap as a feedstock have been left in the lurch by the restrictions on scrap aluminium imports.