Orlando, Fla. — China's crackdown on recovered plastic imports, called National Sword, will present business opportunities in the United States and other Western countries, one recycling official close to the issue believes.
Steve Wong, executive chairman of the China Scrap Plastics Association, sees China's National Sword effort to more closely regulate recycled imports as having an impact on both processors and manufacturers using recycled plastic content.
"There's a lot of manufacturing that still requires recycled materials. So I think the recycler will come over here [to the United States] or the manufacturer will come over here to be able to get material from the source," Wong said about some companies at the recent Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit in Orlando.
Wong also is managing director of Fukutomi Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong, an international plastics recycler that includes operations in Malaysia and Vietnam. His company previously had recycling sites in the United States and is again looking to restart operations here as a result of National Sword.
"We also are looking for the right place to do it and also the right people, the right policy in the U.S.," he said. "The right people with the right policy, I would say."
National Sword is the second push in recent years to take a closer look at recycling imports into China as officials try to lessen the amount of low-quality materials reaching that country.
Since word of National Sword came out earlier this year, there has been much speculation about the ultimate impact of the program. Some believe there's a goal of eliminating plastic scrap imports to China.
National Sword follows a similar 2013 effort by the Chinese government called Green Fence that also sought to increase the recycling standards for material moving into the country. That effort caused domestic recyclers to find capacity and ways to better process plastics that once was shipped to China. Ultimately, recycling officials have said, Green Fence helped bolster the U.S. plastics recycling industry.
And Wong sees similar opportunities with National Sword.
"It can be an opportunity for recyclers in this country," Wong said at Re|focus, which was organized by the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association.
China's National Sword also could push plastic recycling opportunities to other Asian countries, but the viability of some of those efforts still must be proven, Wong said.