Commentary: Copper scrap a key battleground in China’s war on waste – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – May 15, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – China’s self-declared war on “foreign garbage” has come to America. From May 3 all U.S. shipments to China of secondary materials, from scrap metal to plastics and waste paper, are suspended for a month.

China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC) North America, the sole body licensed with checking U.S. cargoes before they sail, will not be allowed to issue export certification documents until June 4.

During the one-month suspension every container with U.S. waste material at Chinese ports will be opened, inspected and, if necessary, undergo laboratory testing. The reason, according to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), is that “multiple shipments” of U.S. scrap have failed to meet tough new environmental regulations since the start of the year.

The rest of the world is only now waking up to how serious China is about keeping “foreign garbage out of our country’s gate”, as GAC expressed it in its notification.

That, of course, is likely to have implications for the copper market, with China the destination for almost half the world’s copper scrap exports, according to the International Copper Study Group. Last year China imported 3.56 million tonnes in gross weight.

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