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In the previous decade, the paper and board mills in the People’s Republic of China imported up to 30 million tonnes of recovered fibers each year in that country, as its export-based economy produced paperboard- crates and corrugated boxes at global levels.
China remains a world leader in the production of cardboard and box manufacturing, but for inexplicable reasons, it now engages in this production without the benefit of importing old corrugated cardboard containers (OCC) and other grades of scrap paper used to produce profitable board. (The reason seems to relate to the questionable âforeign wasteâ label applied to the OCC.)
Presentations and a panel discussion at the 10th Asian Conference on Recycled Fibers and Containerboard in early December shed light on how Chinese cardboard producers have adapted to the disappearance of this once privileged raw material.
Tang Yanju, general secretary of the China Resources Recycling Association (CRRA), said his association was involved in efforts to strengthen the collection of recovered fibers in China. Tang said this takes the form of a “market-based” system for industrial and commercial collection and an “environmental utility” format for residential materials.
Paper and cardboard producers and recycling companies have signed contracts with local and provincial governments to open collection and sorting facilities across China, Tang said. The national government is considering a “more centralized and efficient” paper recycling system, changing from a formerly “decentralized” model, she added.
Among the companies that operate such sorting centers is Shanying International Holdings, based in Shanghai, according to Yan Dalin, vice president and member of the board of directors of the company. Yan said Shanying has extended its domestic supply radius for recovered paper beyond an old 300-kilometer (185-mile) limit “to make sure we have a sufficient supply.”
According to Yan, Shanying has also invested in the production of pulp with recycled content overseas. Shanying now has the capacity to convert over 1.4 million tonnes per year of recovered paper into pulp. Most of this production is in Thailand, although the company also produces a dry pulp product with recycled content at smaller plants in the Netherlands and the UK.
In a panel discussion at the conference, Lucy Yao of Shandong Sun Paper said the company operates a pulp mill in Laos to help deliver supplies. She said Sun also uses more domestic OCC generated in China, although the quality or performance of this material does not match the imported OCC.
Another panelist, Jennifer Li of Dongguan Jianhui Paper, said the company chose Thailand as the location for a pulp mill that converts fibers recovered overseas into a product with recycled content that can be shipped to its country. south china factory.
RISI Fastmarkets economist Echo Xu said that Indian recycled pulp laminate producers were successful in exporting to China in 2021. This may be in part because the product looks like finished paper and is not subject to scrutiny by customs inspectors.
Early December RISI Fastmarkets Event was held in Wuhan, China, and online for those unable to attend in person.