Global scrap industry awaiting Chinese decision on copper and aluminum imports
New customs codes to reclassify Cu and Al as resources rather than waste
According to a June 28 Reuters article by Tom Daly out of Beijing, China is delaying the release of new customs codes governing high-grade copper and aluminium scrap imports, leaving regulations pertaining to Chinese market access unclear for scrap metal recycling firms around the world.
In January, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) published new standards for "recycled" copper and aluminium, following a strong lobby by the global metals industry to reclassify high-grade scrap as a resource instead of waste - meaning it would not be affected by Chinese bans on "waste" materials.
New standards for copper and aluminum, which reclassify the commodities as non-waste, are scheduled to take effect, July 1, but according to Reuters, no customs codes have so far been released and it is not clear as to where the customs codes will come from. This has resulted in stoppages of cargo for both materials, from foreign and Chinese firms abroad.
"The current situation - without the necessary coordination of all regulators and procedures yet fully established - is a confused fiasco," said Michael Lion, former Asia chairman of Sims Metal Management.
According to Manson Zeng of CRA Recycling International, a trading platform in China, estimates are that there is currently a huge surplus of scrap metal piled in yards in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia, just to name a few, which are ready for easy shipment to China.
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.