- The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday urging him to make China's import ban on recyclables a top priority in discussions with the Chinese government.
- "Should this continue it could eventually lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and the closure of many recycling businesses throughout North America since there currently is not enough global capacity to absorb the paper and plastics that had been going to China," wrote NWRA CEO and President Darrell Smith. "The fallout from this ban could have a devastating effect on recycling that may set the industry back decades."
- The U.S. and China have been in trade talks that each side hopes will strengthen cooperation in agricultural, energy and financial sectors among others, according to Reuters.
Even if Pence is able to make the import ban a prioritized topic of conversation, a walk-back by China to the point that it would significantly alleviate pressure from the U.S. recycling market remains unlikely. The ban has created a ripple effect on other Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, and some are now considering their own import bans.
Smith's fear that the ban could set the industry back decades is not without merit — and the recycling industry isn't the only one that could be significantly affected in the long term. Supply Chain Dive found that ports and ocean carriers have seen "a remarkable drop in volumes in the first quarter of this year, as scrap goods are diverted to other destinations in Asia," according to a recent analysis of the ban's impact.
Along with China's drop in demand for wastepaper and paperboard exports, there is still confusion as to customs protocol that will continue to impact ports as the situation is sorted out.
If Pence receives and prioritizes this exhortation, President Donald Trump will have much to discuss when he convenes with the U.S. delegation to China during heightened trade negotiations. China recently announced a reduced tariff on auto imports, even as Trump said yesterday that the U.S. would consider increasing tariffs on auto imports.