China announces import ban on an additional 32 scrap materials

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) announced April 19 that China will ban imports of 32 types of scrap materials, which the MEE labels as solid waste.

Sixteen materials, including scrap metals considered Category 7, such as motors, wire and cable scrap, will be banned from import beginning Dec. 31, 2018, MEE said in an online announcement.

Another 16 types, including some forms of stainless steel scrap, will be banned beginning Dec. 31, 2019. The full list of banned materials is available online in English at https://bit.ly/2I7ObWF.

The new policies follow earlier announcements that prohibit 24 categories of recyclable materials, which went into effect Jan. 1, and the imposition of tighter quality standards on all scrap imports, which went into effect March 1.

The Chinese government began taking action to phase out such imports in 2017, citing environmental concerns. Many recyclers and policy analysts, however, sense protectionism in the moves, since China’s government has indicated it is taking measures to replace the imports with domestic resources before the end of 2019.

Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, visited China in late April to obtain more information on the April 19 announcement and previous regulatory changes that came into effect earlier, the organization reports in an alert to its members issued April 19.

ISRI members can direct questions regarding China to Adina Renee Adler, senior director of government relations and international affairs.

China freezes out US scrap shipments

The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has notified its members that it has learned that the U.S. operations of the China Certification and Inspection Group North America (CCIC NA) have been suspended for one month, effective May 4 through June 4, 2018.

“As a result, no [outbound scrap shipment] inspections can be arranged or certificates issued during this period,” states ISRI, as CCIC’s preinspection system in North America has been temporarily closed. “There is no doubt that this will severely impact U.S. scrap exports to China,” the organization says in its May 3 announcement.

According to ISRI, “This action affects only the scrap recycling industry, and only shipments from the United States [and] containers that received CCIC approval prior to May 4 but that have not yet obtained their certificate will encounter difficulty at the port of entry.”

The association also indicates that exporters responsible for containers that fail China Inspection and Quarantine Services (CIQ) inspection at a Chinese port could face losing their General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) export license.

According to ISRI, the Chinese General Administration of Customs has issued a notice stating specific steps are being taken because of the failure of “multiple batches” of material arriving at Chinese ports that did not meet the government’s environmental protection standards.

Beginning May 4, all shipments arriving from the U.S. will be required to be 100 percent opened for inspection. Shipments containing unwanted materials will be subject to “100 percent examination with lab testing analysis,” in a procedure that one trader based in south China suggests would cost about $20,000.

The materials listed as unwanted in the ISRI notification are: “hot plastic, waste plastics, metal scrap containing powder and the 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.”

CCIC NA also has been placed on an “A category risk early warning measure.” This penalty is aligned with AQSIQ regulations issued late last year that became effective Feb. 1 and include new guidelines for holding exporters and inspectors responsible for shipments that fail to meet quality standards.

Those same AQSIQ regulations also allow independent inspection companies to apply for a Chinese government license to issue preshipment inspection certification for scrap exports.

Port inspectors are directed to carefully review inspection and shipping documents to verify, among other information, that the preshipment inspection certificate was issued before shipping, proper preshipment inspection was conducted and all addresses and other information is accurate.

The action took place at the same time the two nations were trading tariff enactments.

Warren Equity closes on Meridian Waste acquisition

Warren Equity Partners, a lower middle market private equity fund based in Jacksonville, Florida, has closed on its acquisition of the solid waste subsidiaries of Meridian Waste Solutions Inc., Atlanta. The acquired entities comprise Meridian’s integrated, nonhazardous solid waste services business, primarily operating in Missouri and Virginia. The acquired business will continue to operate under Meridian Waste. 

Meridian announced its execution of a definitive agreement to sell the equity interest of its wholly owned subsidiaries that house its solid waste group to Warren Equity Partners Fund II in February. The company said at that time that it would receive approximately $87 million in debt assumption and $3 million in cash.

Meridian’s business historically had been comprised of its solid waste collection, transfer and disposal services. However, the company has shifted its focus to biomass and health care technology services, identifying several additional acquisition opportunities for value creation at rates that are disproportionately greater than the company’s solid waste business, the company said in its February announcement.

Walter “Wally” Hall, a founder of Advanced Disposal Services Inc. in Florida, will serve as CEO of Meridian Waste. Meridian Waste currently services more than 130,000 commercial, industrial and residential customers.

San Diego waste cleanup project reaches 500-ton benchmark

Workers in San Diego have removed more than 500 tons of waste off the city’s streets since the Clean SD initiative was launched in September 2017, a report by San Diego radio station KPBS says.

The Clean SD initiative was instituted to help target waste discarded on the city’s streets, alleyways and riverbeds.

“The waste abatements we’ve performed tend to be associated with homeless encampments,” Mario Sierra, director of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department, said in the report. “That’s typically left behind as we conduct our waste abatements.”

According to the report, more than 1,200 shopping carts and 3,100 mattresses and box springs have been discarded through the program.

The cleanup, which is performed by city workers outfitted with hazmat suits and trash bags, has focused heavily on the 52-mile stretch along the San Diego River that has long served as a popular campground for the city’s homeless. While the city has undertaken street cleanup programs in the past, there is renewed emphasis under the Clean SD initiative following a hepatitis A outbreak that has resulted in 20 deaths since 2016.

“We have actually removed approximately 98 tons of waste from the San Diego River and 29 tons of waste from Chollas Creek,” Sierra said in the report. “And we’ve also removed about 300 tons in other areas throughout the city of San Diego.”

The next phase of the project involves a community outreach effort in which private landowners with property along the river are being asked to help. The city has sent letters to 33 landowners offering one-time cleanup assistance.