MSW Management

Now What? #ChinaWasteBan

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A few days ago, I posted on this website’s “The Latest” page about the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI). They learned that the US operations of the China Certification and Inspection Group North America (CCIC) have been suspended for one month, effective May 4 through June 4. This essentially halts all imports of US scrap to China for that period of time.

Reuters reported, “In a notice to customers dated May 3, reviewed by Reuters, China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC) North America said it would stop processing applications and issuing certificates for scrap material shipments from May 4 to June 4.

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The company could not immediately be reached for comment outside normal working hours in the United States.

The inspection firm said in the notice it would empty every container of US-origin scrap from May 4 to check for plastic and other hazardous waste products, which it would send for further testing.

During the month-long period, CCIC North America ‘will temporarily stop processing applications and issuing the certificate for pre-shipment inspection on scrap materials to China,’ it said.”

On May 4, 2018, ISRI issued an alert on its website to “provide members with some critical information as you consider how this affects your business.”

The bulk of the alert says, “First and foremost, the root cause of this situation appears to be in the manner in which CCIC issues the certificates. According to the General Administration of Customs notice, there is a concern about ‘the pre-shipment dates on the certificates are later than the loading and shipment dates’ and customs authorities are being directed to ‘carefully verify the pre-shipment certificates, shipping documents, and other related papers.’ For this reason, we believe that containers that received CCIC approval prior to May 4 but that have not yet obtained their certificate will encounter difficulty at port of entry. While it is entirely a business decision, exporters may wish to consider diverting cargoes already on the water to other countries.

Furthermore, all cargoes, including those that have received CCIC pre-shipment inspection certificates, will be required to be 100% opened for inspection. Shipments containing ‘hot plastic waste plastics, metal scrap containing powder, and waste papers containing hard-to-be-identified special paper (silicone paper, wet wax paper, thermal paper, moisture-proof paper, etc.) and waste paper with suspected hazardous materials’ will be subject to ‘100% examination with lab testing analysis.’ These inspections are ‘to strictly follow the national environmental protection standards,’ which are the strict quality standards with the 0.5% ‘carried waste’ tolerance that went into effect on March 1. If, for any reason, you suspect that your shipment may not meet these requirements, please consider an alternative solution to that cargo arriving at a Chinese port as you may risk losing your AQSIQ license.

These materials are still very much in demand by Chinese customers. ISRI believes that many of them have operations in other countries. We encourage members to work closely with customers to find solutions that will allow contracts to be fulfilled.

We believe demand for American high-quality scrap remains strong worldwide. Considering this measure is compounding the already changing market landscape in China due to the import prohibitions and strict quality standards, there are significant business opportunities for US exporters in other regions of the world worth exploring.

In addition, ISRI has learned that as CCIC’s US operations also perform inspections in Mexico, those operations are also at a halt. CCIC’s Canadian operations have been warned that they will face suspension if they process material originating from the United States. Please consider not using these markets as an alternative route to China.

In the meantime, ISRI recommends not loading containers for China until this is resolved. ISRI was told shippers of any cargo that is rejected by Chinese customs authorities, especially during this time, could risk losing their AQSIQ export license. This is a huge, long-term risk for our members that we wish to avoid. Given the severity of this situation, ISRI is working closely with BIR and other counterpart organizations around the world to track and address this issue.”

SWANA Executive Director and CEO told MSW Management, “China’s announcement that the CICC will not be conducting pre-export inspections in the US of recycling and scrap for 30 days marks another milestone in the deteriorating international trade relationship between the two countries. Although a comparatively small amount of material will likely be impacted by the inspection suspension, it had a negative impact on prices, which had risen on the West Coast in late April.

“Local governments need to focus on educating residents about the economic and environmental importance of recycling properly and reducing contamination. This is a key to ensuring sustainable recycling programs in North America.”

Darrell Smith, National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) President and CEO reacted to the stoppage telling MSW Management, “The latest suspension of CCIC NA inspections is a concern to our members coming after numerous rounds of negative news from the China market. While I remain optimistic that the recyclers in the United States will find solutions to this in the long run, the current situation makes a challenging situation even worse. Our heavy reliance on a single country to manage a significant quantity of the market demonstrates our need to explore alternatives, develop new technological innovations, encourage new uses domestically for recyclables to diversify and become more resilient. The industry will take this opportunity to educate the American people about the importance of cleaning up the recycling stream and reevaluating contracts. Americans love to recycle, and we will support them.”

I’d like to hear from you if the China Waste Ban has had a significant impact on the way you do business, and also if this latest move will aggravate the situation. MSW_bug_web

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  1. Yes, we felt the immediate impact thinking that the prices for OCC would climb and start at least meeting break even and instead overnight they plummeted. This coupled with the drastic transportation cost demand (it is a truckers market and not us as users) is really hurting our small, rural local program, especially as we are not subsidized by property taxes for our operations.

  2. this is proof that the US needs to do some serious planning on what to do with our garbage. obviously, shipping it off to China is not working and in fact is really a lazy way to deal with problems. not too much different than that guy who cleans out his car by throwing his burger king wrapper out the window.

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