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How China’s “Solid Waste Law” is Going to Change World’s Paper Waste Management

JPT Cardboard Tubes Market Commentary

China is planning to take a great leap forward in banning the import of solid waste from around the world. The decision is a continuation of the country’s “National Sword Initiative,” taken back in 2017.

Over the years, countries around the world, especially from Europe and America, have exported various waste materials to different Asian countries like China and Indonesia. This has helped the developed nations to avoid contamination that the recycling process may bring and not to invest heavily in advanced recycling technologies.

China, on the other hand, has been able to source raw materials for manufacturing products like cardboard tubes.

OCC Waste Cardboard coreboard
OCC Cardboard waste

Solid Waste Law: Amid environmental concerns, China had decided to reduce import of low graded, contaminated solid wastes- including paper- in 2017. They called this “National Sword Initiative.” The initiative kept the Chinese door open only for low-contaminated wastes (raising the purity bar from 90-95% to 99.5%) from trusted suppliers.

The initiative had resulted in a sharp decrease in the import of solid waste, including paper waste that was the raw material for paper tubes. The first four months of the year 2020 alone have seen an almost 50% drop in solid waste import in comparison to last year.

“Solid Waste Law” is believed to tighten this inflow even further. Though the quality and conformity of waste categories are going to be re-examined, leaving a few categories beyond the racket, paper wastes are believed not to get a free pass.

Reports suggest that Indonesia, who’s been a destination for solid waste export for several countries, has decided to review their import regulations and take a stricter approach towards scrape commodity import as well.

China has been importing solid wastes since the early 1980s. The import helps different local manufacturers with products like cardboard tubes and paper tubes with a consistent supply of raw materials. Exporters like the UK and North America have always found this environmentally beneficial, shipping the wastes half a world away from their countries.

In the changed situation, is the “Solid Waste Law” going to close the Chinese market for solid waste exporters once and for all?

Cardboard tubes prices linked to waste prices
China - Dominating Waste Markets

Impact on the UK Paper Core Industry: “Solid Waste Law,” if finally materialised, should have a positive impact on paper core manufacturers and consumers in solid waste exporting countries like the UK. The pricing of cardboard cores heavily depends on the pricing of raw materials, in this case, paper waste. The raw material pricing, again, fluctuates depending on its demand.

If countries like China and Indonesia keep importing paper waste, its pricing goes high for the local UK cardboard tubes manufacturers, causing a hike in pricing for the paper core products. We saw this happen over the past few years. This has been reported on several occasions before the 2017 Chinese National Sword Initiative that the prices of cardboard tubes fluctuated in disfavour of consumers due to the excessive demand of paper waste in the market.

postal tubes inside
Waste prices are at the core of it!

Waste Management Around the World: The countries that have been exporting solid waste to China and Indonesia have to answer one vital question now. Are they ready to manage their solid waste locally? Not 100% of waste can be recycled into production. The solid waste that can’t be recycled causes contamination if not properly disposed of. Solid waste exporting countries around the world did not have to deal with it as long as countries like China were more liberal in their import policy. Now in a changed scenario, these countries have to find their way of getting disposed of the rubbish in an eco-friendly way.

Under the changed scenario, countries like the UK should put a priority on developing their waste management system. JPT has been closely observing the whole development. We are keen on manufacturing cardboard tubes in a more stable business environment, ensuring the best price for our clients.


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