UPDATE: April 4, 2019: The Indonesian government has delayed its plans for a comprehensive pre-shipment inspection policy, as well as tighter contamination standards, until further notice. Resource Recycling reported the news after reviewing documents from inspection company KSO Sucofindo-Surveyor Indonesia. Inspections are now expected to cover only 10% of loads.
- The Indonesian government has issued a 100% pre-shipment inspection policy for recovered fiber exports, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).
- The policy went into effect on April 1 and covers inspections at the materials' point of origin.
- Cases will be handled differently depending on whether all of the material comes from one scrapyard or if it comes from multiple. If a shipment comes from multiple locations not within close proximity, the materials will be treated and inspected as separate shipments.
This move almost certainly is a result of China's scrap import restrictions and material bans. When scrap exporters got shut out of the Chinese markets this year, they sought other markets — including Indonesia and Vietnam, which just announced its own temporary ban on scrap plastic imports, but the other countries can't handle the massive amounts of scrap China previously had consumed. Based on data from ISRI and other sources this a challenge of both capacity as well as shipping logistics.
The more thorough inspection policy could help Indonesia cut down on the amount of materials it accepts before the shipments head out to sea. As ISRI notes, the policy will slow down shipment processing, which could become burdensome for domestic scrap exporters due to extra time and storage costs.
In addition to slowing down shipments, more intense inspections could reveal contamination that otherwise would have gone undetected, which would allow Indonesia to reject more materials. China has used this practice to prevent materials from reaching its shores in accordance with its scrap ban.
Last month, China imposed its own temporary pre-shipment inspection regulations, halting certificate issuance at U.S. sites for a month. Although it altered the regulations a couple weeks later and said U.S. shipments could go through Canadian inspection sites, that's not easily accomplished and the damage to the supply chain had already been done.
Indonesia's export regulations likely spell further trouble for scrap fiber, which already is taking the brunt of China's materials ban. The value of recovered paper has plummeted as stockpiles grow and reclaimers scramble to find viable markets.
The problem also has trickled down the chain to residential recycling programs. Some municipalities, especially on the West Coast, have stopped accepting certain recyclable materials in their programs or resorting to temporary disposal in certain cases.