China to Ban RCP Imports in 2021

China appears to be on track to implement its planned ban on imports of all recovered paper (RCP) starting in 2021, according to industry news reports.

Currently, Chinese companies can only import recovered fiber if the government’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) grants them an import license under its quota system. In 2020, China reportedly will grant licenses to import no more than 7 million mt of recovered fiber from all countries, but an MEE official said this week it will grant no import licenses for recovered fiber for 2021, Fastmarkets RISI reports.

This move is part of China’s larger goal of eliminating imports of all “solid waste,” a term that takes in some categories of recyclable materials.

China’s imports of U.S. scrap paper have declined from a peak of 14.35 million mt in 2011 to 5.49 million mt in 2019—a drop of 62%. That downtrend is continuing in 2020. China imported roughly 1.5 million mt of U.S. scrap paper from January through April this year, down 19% from the same period in 2019, based on U.S. International Trade Commission data.