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Shipper MSC instructs agents to reject scrap cargoes to China

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said on Friday it had told agents not to accept bookings for solid waste cargoes to China to comply with recently adopted Chinese legislation, in a move that has sparked concern from a scrap trade body.

MSC “has instructed its shipping agents worldwide, prior to 1 June 2020, to reject any bookings for banned solid waste cargoes, in line with the requirements of the legislation,” a spokesman for the Geneva-based container carrier said in an email to Reuters.

China has been tightening restrictions on scrap commodities as part of an environmental campaign and plans to reduce imports of solid waste to zero by the end of 2020.

MSC’s move was flagged in an email from the U.S.-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), which said it followed a new solid waste law in China, approved on April 29, holding carriers and importers responsible for the return and disposal of solid waste that fails to meet import requirements.

“Although ISRI understands the concerns and uncertainties China’s law creates for the shipping lines, ISRI is very concerned about the precedence MSC’s decision sets for scrap shipments … not just to China but globally,” said Adina Adler, assistant vice president for international affairs at ISRI.

“To our knowledge, at this time no other shipping line has issued a similar policy,” she added in a June 4 note to members.

The ISRI circular said MSC’s policy applied to both mainland China and Hong Kong, and covered all scrap commodities including scrap metal and waste paper.

Since some companies learned of the change after June 1, some booked orders had to be cancelled, it added.

Although China plans a ban on solid waste imports, it has introduced new standards for copper, aluminium and brass scrap, effective July 1, that will allow material meeting them to enter the country as a resource instead of a waste.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Tom Daly; additonal reporting by Mai Nguyen in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)

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