China’s market regulator published new standards for high-grade copper scrap and aluminum scrap metal. Details of the new standards, which take effect on July 1, have been highly anticipated by metals traders eager to know if they will still be able to ship their scrap into China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, as it bolsters its environmental crackdown on imports of solid waste.

Beijing has set a target of reducing solid waste imports to zero by the end of 2020 but scrap metal meeting the new standards, published by the State Administration for Market Regulation, will be classed as a resource rather than waste. The new standards set minimum copper contents ranging from 99.9% for types of scrap including bare bright copper wire, commonly known as “barley” under Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) specifications, down to 94% for No. 3 copper scrap nodules.

“All the other ISRI grades … with much lower copper contents and foreign elements (are) also permitted for import based on the full table they’ve established,” said Michael Lion, president of Lion Consulting Asia and a China scrap metals veteran. “So copper refineries that refine these grades get their feedstock.”

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Authors: Tom Daly and Min Zhang, Reuters
Photo: China Daily via Reuters/File Photo