South Korean government ramps up recovered fiber inspections

The Paper Stock Industries (PSI) Chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, has provided an update to exporters on conditions in two nations that buy significant recovered fiber tonnage: South Korea and India.

The government of South Korea has announced 100 percent inspection requirements for recovered paper imports, according to PSI. “Recently in Korea, the import of contaminated or improperly separated recyclable paper has become a social problem,” PSI quotes one ISRI contact in the South Korean government as saying. If the material is deemed legal, he says it will be cleared.

ISRI says it has learned the South Korean government notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intent to put all pulp and recovered paper that is “contaminated with oil or contains foreign substances” under the prior- informed-consent procedures of the Basel Convention.

For recyclers, that means South Korea is removing a previous exemption and considering contaminated material hazardous. ISRI says it will seek clarification on thresholds for oil contamination and a definition of “foreign substances.”

In India, the COVID-19 pandemic caused Prime Minister Narendra Modi to institute a three-week national lockdown that started at midnight March 24 and subsequently was extended to May 3.

The lockdown required citizens to stay at home and allowed only “essential” businesses to remain open. Most manufacturing segments outside of health care and food were not deemed essential. “Therefore,” PSI writes, “our recycling customers are closed.”

Seaports in India also had been deemed essential and were open, but many employees were not showing up for work out of fear of spreading the virus, ISRI says, citing Boston-based business information provider Fastmarkets RISI as its source.

Some cargoes have gone unclaimed, “so it is uncertain what will happen when containers that are already en route arrive at port or what storage and demurrage charges might be incurred,” PSI says.