Industry experts recently discussed the opportunities that could arise from China’s ‘Green Fence,’ a policy enacted earlier this year that cracks down on waste material being shipped to that country for recycling. According to a story in Waste & Recycling News, the webinar hosted by the Society of the Plastics Industry included discussions from Kathy Xuan, CEO of Parc Corp., Saurabh Naik, president and CEO of Intercontinental Export-Import Inc.; Dave Kaplan, CEO of Maine Plastics Inc.; and Mike Biddle, president of MBA Polymers Inc.
China used to allow materials such as plastic that had been cleaned and sorted but now requires that the materials also be processed or they are refused entry into the country. Experts believe this could provide opportunities for US recyclers as it creates changes in the marketplace.
"Legitimate recyclers applaud the move," Biddle said during the webinar. "We've been wanting this to happen because it levels the playing field. We've been operating more costly recycling facilities for years."
Recyclers "playing by the rules" have not been greatly impacted by enforcement, he said.
Some companies are investing in new technology to help increase the amount and quality of material that can be recycled in the US, rather than shipped overseas.
"We see the Green Fence as an opportunity to grow domestically, to create new markets for our export material, to create new jobs," said Saureen Naik, export sales manager of overseas operations. "Overall, we see this as an opportunity and not a threat."
In addition to processing waste materials in the US, the Green Fence highlights the need to create less waste overall.
"Over the years, we've really been using China as a scapegoat. We've been dumping a lot of our low-end materials into China. And I think that this policy is really an opportunity" to look examine actions, impacts and carbon footprints, she said. It provides "a chance to take more actions and come up with new technologies that we can really establish here in the U.S. [as] alternate means and alternate recycling methods for our own scrap."
In California, we can support local recyclers in this changed marketplace through policies like AB 1021 (Eggman), which will provide financial assistance in the form of sales tax exemption on equipment purchases to businesses that process or utilized recycled feedstock. CAW supports AB 1021, as it will provide an important incentive to recycle and reintroduce more recyclable materials into California’s manufacturing economy.
AB 1021 passed out of Senate Govt. & Finance and Senate EQ. The next stop for the bill is Senate Approprations when the legislature reconvenes in August.
Find out more about China’s Green Fence.
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