In a bid to improve its image and decrease environmental health hazards,
China will stop accepting 24 kinds of waste by March 1, including difficult-to-recycle plastic types 3 to 7, electronics waste and mixed paper
normally headed toward its sorting and recycling facilities from around the
world. The maximum amount of contaminated waste accepted will drop to .3
Every day, about 3,700 shipping
recyclables are shipped to China, one of the
world's top destinations for recycling due to its cheap prices for shipping and
sorting waste and low levels of regulation. As China clamps down on the amount
of hazardous contamination in its recycling bales, many of these shipments
now idle in Hong Kong ports.
"Recycling is a unique industry, but at the end of the day,
it's a manufacturing environment. When demand for a product decreases ... we
don't have the ability to stop the inbound flow," said Brent Bell,
president of Waste Management's Recycle America program.
shipping lines could lose around 5m teu of cargo a year following the
recent import ban on a variety of waste materials for recycling, according to
new research from Drewry Maritime Advisors..
China imported around 30m tonnes of waste paper and 8m tonnes of waste plastics
and the ban has already led to growing mountains of waste products in the
US, Japan and Europe as dealers struggle to find alternative recycling
One in-depth report claims the ban could create crises around the world equal to
a major natural disaster.
for ocean carriers is that waste products constitute a large percentage of
backhaul volumes from Europe and North America to China – the US exported
two-thirds of its waste paper to China in 2016, some 13.2m tonnes, and
about half of westbound transpacific volumes are waste products for recycling.
said: “Unless there is a dramatic about-turn, carriers can kiss goodbye to
those banned paper and plastics shipments. Drewry estimates that worldwide
unsorted paper imports to China were in the region of 500,000 teu in 2016,
while the still-legal other types of waste paper added another 2m teu.
the other lower-volume commodities affected by the new ruling, Drewry estimates
that there could be as much as between 4-5m teu at risk, equating to nearly 3%
of world loaded container traffic.”
while the loss in terms of volumes is substantial for an industry continually
struggling to balance demand for containerised transport with supply of slots,
the financial implications are smaller as waste products are routinely
shipped at some of the lowest freight rate levels.
carriers, this development will not break the bank, as the ocean freight earned
for backhaul waste shipments is extremely low,” added Drewry. “But they do at
least offer some contribution, at least, to the costs of repositioning
containers back to Asia.”
addition, there may be further relief from the ongoing restructuring of the
Chinese economy, which has seen demand for other, higher-paying, imports
volumes from the US and Europe to Asia will fail to reach the heights they
could have without China’s decision, but all is not lost for the backhaul
trades as other rising cargoes can help fill the gap.
of beef, for example, have soared in recent years, reaching more than 800,000
tonnes in 2016 – compared with just 6,000 tonnes 10 years before – as rising
incomes have boosted meat consumption and Beijing recently removed restrictions
on the import of American premium grain-fed beef, which should give a boost,”