China's struggling plastics recycling industry will be facing some new regulations starting Jan. 1 that aim to phase out smaller, less efficient and less sustainable operations.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the new regulations the week of Dec. 21, stipulating detailed requirements on recyclers' location, operation scale, energy consumption, technology and equipment, environmental protection, safety, quality, as well as inspection.
Most notably, new PET bottle recyclers, considered category I recyclers, need to meet a minimum annual processing capacity of 30,000 metric tons. Existing PET recyclers must process annual capacity of no less than 20,000 tons.
The minimum capacity for category II recyclers, companies that sort, clean and shred plastic scrap, is also 30,000 tons for new players and 20,000 for existing companies.
Category III recyclers, or companies that extrude reprocessed pellets, need to have at least 5,000 metric tons of capacity for industry newcomers and 3,000 tons for existing players.
Companies also are required to have properly sized processing areas that matches their capacity.
Recyclers are also facing more stringent regulations on electricity (less than 500 kilowatts for each ton of waste plastics) and water consumption (less than 1.5 metric tons of water per ton of waste plastics for categories I and II, and less than 0.2 tons for category III).