Malaysia's proposed rule change seen choking off nearly all scrap imports

HANOI (REUTERS) – Malaysia’s proposed scrap rules would prevent up to 90 per cent of scrap imports from entering the country, an industry official said, when recyclers that can help the world shift to a greener economy are already reeling from high prices and shortages.

Malaysia has emerged as a recycling hub to process raw materials from the United States and Europe into forms acceptable to top commodity consumer China, which restricted scrap imports for environmental reasons.

The new guidelines would “cause more harm than good to the whole non-ferrous metals industry in Malaysia,” the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) quoted Eric Tan of the Malaysia Non-Ferrous Metals Association as saying at an online BIR event.

He said 80 to 90 per cent of scrap imports would be blocked. Concerns include a zero threshold for hazardous and electronic waste, a minimum 94.75 per cent metal content requirement and cargo inspections before and after shipment, the BIR statement released late on Wednesday said.

Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry was not immediately available for comment during a public holiday.

Malaysia on Monday delayed until 2022 the implementation of the new rule, providing a temporary reprieve for the scrap market, notably for copper.

On global markets, copper hit record high prices in May, partly due to shortages.

The recycling industry also faces restrictions in India and Europe.

India’s plans for scrap standards could limit the threshold for metal impurities, the BIR statement quoted Dhawal Shah, president of its nonferrous metals division, as saying.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the BIR urged European officials to engage with the recycling industry.

It said European Union proposals to restrict scrap exports would lead to less recycling, which saves resources, energy and lowers carbon dioxide emissions, Murat Bayram of European Metal Recycling, was quoted as saying in the BIR statement.

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