Dongguan, China — Worries about further tightening of China's imports of scrap plastic were front and center at the Replas conference and trade show in the southern city of Dongguan May 11, with businesses reporting new difficulties and peppering government officials for clarity.
"This is the most difficult conference in my experience," said Wang Wang, secretary general of the China Scrap Plastics Association, the organizer of the May 11-12 event.
Beijing launched a new nationwide crackdown on scrap imports, called National Sword, in February. That was followed up by an April 18 announcement at the 34th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, headed by China's President Xi Jinping, that called for unspecified further restrictions on imported recyclables.
While many details remain murky, some recycling industry officials are interpreting the April 18 announcement as a sign the government will move toward banning scrap imports.
"It is a significant change of [the] recycling business," said Kathy Xuan, a board member of the recycling committee of the Beijing-based China Plastics Processing Industry Association, and CEO of recycler Parc Corp. in Romeoville, Ill.
She called the announcement a "huge surprise" and said it could prompt recycling companies to consider leaving China.