By Tom Daly
BEIJING: Chinese authorities will start accepting applications for licences to import unspecified quantities of soon-to-be-restricted types of scrap metal from late May, the recycling branch of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association said.
China, the world's top metals consumer, has been clamping down on scrap imports as part of a campaign against foreign solid waste, leaving overseas scrap exporters scrambling to find other markets.
Imports of low-grade copper scrap such as coiled cable and waste motors - known as 'Category 7' - have been banned since the start of 2019. The government said in December that imports of eight further kinds of scrap, including high-grade scrap copper known as 'Category 6', as well as types of aluminium and steel scrap, would be restricted from July 1.
Provincial units of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment can start collecting applications for import licences for these eight items from late May, the recycling association said in a statement after an industry meeting in the eastern city of Ningbo on Friday.
From July 1, the ministry itself will formally accept and approve import licence applications, it added, without disclosing the total tonnage quota available.
China, which has slapped tariffs on scrap from the United States in a tit-for-tat trade row, imported 5.34 million tonnes of scrap metal in 2018, down a third from 2017, according to customs data.
The crackdown has left Chinese buyers, including manufacturers who blend scrap metal into their products, facing shortages.
However, while reiterating China's goal of achieving basically zero imports of solid waste by the end of 2020, the association said it would work with relevant departments to create a new set of national standards on recycled copper, aluminium and other raw materials.
Once released, imports of recycled copper and aluminium that meet these standards will be handled as general raw materials rather than solid waste, "ensuring that high-quality metal raw materials can enter the domestic market" and make up for shortages, the association said.