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Chinese waste import ban offers development opportunities for the international recycling industry

  • Great willingness of state to develop waste management and recycling industry
  • Lack of experience in the field of waste treatment technologies
  • Needed: recycling technologies, incineration plants and logistics systems for separate collection of waste


In parallel with the waste import ban from 2017, China invests a considerable amount in the development of its recycling industry. On January 1, 2018 China’s ban on importing 24 types of waste, including plastics and unsorted waste paper, went into effect. From 2019, the waste import ban shall be extended to waste that can be replaced by domestic resources.


Market opportunities for global waste management and recycling industry

According to Prof. Dr. Michael Nelles China’s decision will result in radical changes in the worldwide waste industry, as the country had imported huge quantities of waste from developed countries. On the other hand, the import ban promises quite some development opportunities for the international waste management and recycling industry in China itself, believes the professor of Waste Management and Material Flow at the University of Rostock and Managing Director of the German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ) in Leipzig, Germany. Because China’s recycling sector will reposition itself and require corresponding technologies in the coming years.


Already the Chinese government’s most recent five-year plan (2016-2020) focused on sustainability. According to Bernhard Felizeter, Head of the Department for Building, Energy and Environment, German Industry and Commerce Greater China Beijing, China requires extensive investments in waste treatment technologies to solve the waste problem. “As China lacks experience and know-how in this field and as this sector is still being established, there are attractive market opportunities for foreign companies. Especially in residential, industry and electric waste, China needs to catch up,” the expert states. Not only technologies and solutions for recycling of industrial waste, plastics, rubber, metal, building waste, electrical scrap and batteries are needed – also hazardous waste will be an interesting field of activity for foreign players.


From Prof. Dr. Michael Nelles’ point of view, in the near future, China will additionally require incineration plants, logistics systems for separate collection of waste and facilities for composting/fermenting biogenic waste from private households, industry, commerce and agriculture. “The know-how for the successful operation of waste treatment plants, however, is more important than the demand for pure treatment technology. Mere consultancy services of international companies are difficult to implement in China,” the professor says. Complete systems, which include planning and construction and are usually implemented with local Chinese partners, are of particular importance.


Environmental awareness among Chinese population has grown

The IFAT Environment Index 2018, which IFAT – the leading trade show for environmental technologies and parent trade fair of IE expo China – created based on a consumer survey in five countries, reveals that meanwhile there is considerable eco-consciousness among Chinese and that they absolutely embrace technologies supporting modern recycling management. 83 percent of the surveyed Chinese consider plastic waste a hazard for the environment, 86 percent think that it is everyone’s concern to prevent waste. Around half of the Chinese population supports waste separation (48 percent) and calls for complete reuse in line with the recycling economy (56 percent).


IE expo China 2018 demonstrates solutions for Asian recycling industry

And there are enough foreign manufacturers and technology providers that meet the Chinese market’s expectations. IE expo China will soon offer the opportunity to introduce these companies to the market: the next edition of Asia’s largest trade fair for environmental technologies will take place in Shanghai from May 3 to 5, 2018. In addition to Chinese providers, also international recycling enterprises will be represented, including the Bavarian BHS-Sonthofen GmbH that offers plants for mixing, crushing, recycling and filtration and will participate in the exhibition already for the second time. “In my opinion, IE expo China currently is the best and most important recycling trade fair in the Chinese market,” says Alfred Weber, Sales Director Recycling & Environmental Technology at BHS-Sonthofen GmbH. The company already owns a Chinese subsidiary with production, service and sales and, in China, provides both individual machines and turnkey plants. For the latter, BHS-Sonthofen GmbH also relies on subcomponents of Chinese manufacturers. “From our perspective, there is a great demand for recycling facilities in China. Especially for our metal recovery processes for materials such as electrical scrap and for incineration ash we see a bright future,” Weber states.

Further companies attending IE expo China will for example be the Norwegian firm Tomra Sorting, a pioneer in sensor-based sorting solutions, the plant manufacturer and specialist for recycling technologies Andritz (Austria) and SID Machinery (Switzerland), a manufacturer of installations for waste treatment and process technology. Participating US companies will include National Recovery Technologies (sorting solutions for the recycling industry), Zero Waste Energy (solutions for solid waste) and SSI Shredding Systems (shredding systems for hazardous waste, electrical scrap and plastic waste). Erdwich Zerkleinerungssysteme (crushers, shredders and recycling plants) and Pollrich GmbH (industrial fans) will be among the exhibitors from Germany.


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About IE expo China

IE expo China – presented by IFAT – is Asia’s Leading Trade Fair for Environmental Technology Solutions: Water, Waste, Air and Soil. The organizer of the event is Messe Muenchen Zhongmao Co., Ltd. – a joint venture between Messe München Shanghai Co. Ltd. and Shanghai ZM International Exhibition Co. Ltd. IE expo 2017 attracted 1,637 exhibitors from 31 countries and 55,000 visitors from 60 countries; the show occupied around 100,000 square meters of exhibition space. The next edition will be taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) from May 3 to 5, 2018. With IE expo Guangzhou there is now also a regional edition of the trade fair, focusing on the market in South China.


IFAT worldwide

Messe München´s competence in organizing environmental-technology events is demonstrated not only in the world´s leading trade fair for the sector, IFAT, but also in a range of other international trade exhibitions around the world. The spectrum encompasses IFAT Africa in Johannesburg, IFAT Eurasia in Istanbul, IFAT India in Mumbai, and IE expo in Shanghai and Guangzhou.


Messe München

Messe München is one of the leading exhibition organizers worldwide with more than 50 of its own trade shows for capital goods, consumer goods and new technologies. Every year, a total of over 50,000 exhibitors and around three million visitors take part in more than 200 events at the exhibition center in Munich, at the ICM – Internationales Congress Center München and the MOC Veranstaltungscenter München as well as abroad. Together with its subsidiary companies, Messe München organizes trade shows in China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, Vietnam and Iran. With a network of associated companies in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America as well as around 70 representations abroad for over 100 countries, Messe München has a global presence.


About Shanghai ZM International Exhibition Co. Ltd. (ZM)

Shanghai ZM International Exhibition Co. Ltd is a professional company with experience in organizing large-scale exhibitions and conventions nationally and abroad, highly valued in the business community. Established in February 2000, Shanghai ZM International Exhibition has set up Domestic Departments, an International Department and MP Zhongmao International Pte Ltd, a new joint-venture with Singapore MP Group. With a proven record of success in organization and planning, Shanghai ZM International Exhibition has held numerous professional exhibitions in the environmental protection industry sector, water industry, petrochemicals, fluid and electric power, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, auto parts, etc.


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