For more than two decades, recyclers and traders around the world have been able to send paper and plastic scrap to China in loads that were far from containing one uniform material. That era is clearly coming to an end, according to presenters at the 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Europe event, held in Warsaw in early November.
Craig Robinson of Cycle Link UK said a series of policy initiatives and announcements emanating from China had been “causing sleepless nights” for recyclers throughout 2017. Robinson said trade associations and manufacturers within China may ultimately influence that nation’s government to ease back some restrictions, but the nation’s central government is “determined to make this change.”
He said the closure of some mills will fit into a government strategy to decrease pollution and to rein in perceived excess capacity. When he visited China in July 2017, Robinson indicated paper mills at that time were given as little as two hours’ notice that environmental inspectors were on their way, and the inspectors “were checking everything” he indicated, all the way down to proper signage at facilities.