The Recycling Association expresses concern at potential Chinese chaos


A meeting between the American Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and Chinese Government officials has highlighted potential chaos over recycling imports, according to Simon Ellin.

The Recycling Association chief executive has been working closely with colleagues from trade bodies around the world since the Chinese import ban and restrictions were announced. This has included organisations such as ISRI, European Recycling Industries’ Confederation and Bureau of International Recycling among others.


ISRI has now revealed that a meeting it had with Chinese officials recently has brought about lots of areas of further concern over the import ban and new restrictions on allowed imports.

According to Simon Ellin, these concerns include:

      Actions are coming from the highest level of the Chinese Government – agencies such as CMEP and AQSIQ forced to implement without time and resources to do so

      The Chinese philosophy that “if you need something corrected, you go overboard and later correct” is very much in play here

      AQSIQ unprepared – likelihood of inspectors understanding what they are inspecting and what they are looking for is very low in order to meet the proposed 0.5% contamination levels for allowed materials

      Confusion over definitions of what is allowed and what is not – believe even more confusion and inconsistency is yet to come

      ISRI has concern that what China is doing may set off a wave of copycat rules in other countries. This means going above and beyond and demonstrating our industry’s commitment to responsible recycling and to differentiate ourselves from those market players that continue to be the lowest common denominator

      ISRI is recommending to its members to keep material very clean  – no stones or dirt, present, more photos than required, and prepare for rejections.


Simon Ellin said: “The discussions ISRI has had with the Chinese Government highlight a lot of concerns we have had that the ban and greater restrictions on imports is being implemented too quickly.

“Clearly, as much as we in the UK, US and elsewhere do not have enough time to adapt, this is also the case with the Chinese agencies at the other end. This suggests there could be chaos until everyone is able to adapt or ideally a much longer time period is given for us to prepare. 

“Until we get to the bottom of some of the areas of uncertainty, The Recycling Association, like ISRI, is reminding its members and the wider recycling sector of the need to keep material exceptionally clean, take more photos than were required previously, and be prepared that even this material can be rejected.

“With the World Trade Organisation consultation ending on Friday 15 December, The Recycling Association will continue to lobby for a relaxation of standards or alternatively a delay in implementation, until all stakeholders are prepared.”