By Bloomberg News November 06, 2014 // E-waste. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg
China will throw out more than 15 million appliances, 5 million personal computers and 100 million mobile phones next year as growing consumption at home means recyclers can rely less on scrap imports.
This “avalanche of homegrown trash” will increase domestic scrap supplies and spur recycling on an unprecedented scale in the next decade, according to Wang Jiwei, secretary general at the recycling division of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.
Wang noted Ziya district outside Tianjin port in northeast China. More than 1 million metric tons of used goods land in junkyards around the area, which could yield 400,000 tons of copper, 200,000 tons of iron and 200,000 tons of aluminum, ready to be recast into wires, cables and cans, he said.
Next year will mark a turning point as China’s economic growth and industrialization over the past three decades will mean increased scrapping at home, Wang said. He estimates that China recycles 20 percent of its scrap versus 90 percent in developed countries.
Recyclers in China have so far mostly relied on foreign scrap, with production declining this year along with metal prices, increasing environmental protection costs and a dwindling supply of raw materials overseas, Wang said.
Recycled copper output dropped 5.6 percent in the first nine months of the year to 1.7 million tons, while lead output slumped 11 percent to 980,000 tons, according to estimates from the association.
China, the world’s largest car market, will scrap about 9 million to 12 million used vehicles in 2015, according to a report by Dongxing Securities Co. published in July.
“Such used vehicle scrapping will have an explosive growth in the next five to 10 years,” said Pan Yonggang, secretary general at China Resource Recycling Association.
The central government has expanded subsidies to encourage metal recycling to reduce the mining industry’s footprint on the environment and smelters’ reliance on foreign mineral resources.