The president of the BIR non-ferrous division has warned that there will be long-term implications for the metal recycling sector from the Chinese green fence.
Writing in the latest BIR Non-Ferrous World Mirror, Alter Trading vice president Robert Stein said that the green fence was a short-term fix with long-term ramifications.
He wrote: “I am often asked where the ‘next China’ will be as a destination for non-ferrous scrap, and my short answer is always the same: there will never be one. The voracious appetite for our scrap in that country has a generation behind it, and it is in a state of maturation that is quite evident.
“Green fence, although branded as a short-term fix for many of the problems facing China’s import of scrap, will have long-term ramifications for our industry; it is a sea-change in the way exporters process material, are diligent in choosing their trading partners, and respect the ambitions of a country which, despite many obstacles, doesn’t want its nation turned into a garbage dump. Likewise, the importing community will need to be more diligent in choosing its sources as increased scrutiny becomes more of a factor.
“Kevin Rudd, the newly re-installed Prime Minister of Australia, has commented that the recent Chinese economic slowdown marks the ‘end of the resource boom in China’. Our scrap will always find homes, just as it did before China became such a major importer.
“The industrialisation of that country brings with it policies and a market that are hopefully not much different to other mature economies, and while the immediacy of implementation of procedures is commercially damaging, we really don’t have, nor will we ever have, much input into what the Chinese government decides to do.”