Can You Guess Where This Paper Mill Is?

This mill runs day and night.  It is in a country with very little supply of recycled paper.  Question:  should Basel Convention allow this paper mill to import "waste paper" from the USA (not a signatory)?   If that is a question, then should the paper mill be allowed to import TREES from the USA (a "commodity", not a waste)?

The mill is in Pakistan, a non-OECD country.  Still, under Annex IX of the Basle Convention, the export of waste paper to this country is legal.  Annex IX provides a detailed list and description of allowed raw materials.   Waste paper is on the list as an allowed material - as are CRTs destined for reuse or repair.  This is what you'd want... the process is the same, whether it is virgin or recycled, and recycling is better for the environment.

Here is the next question:  The lead smelter below is run by Doe Run, the only CRT glass end market in the USA.  Is Doe Run allowed to ship recycled lead (dry acid batteries or CRT cullet) to its Peru facility?

Doe run can definitely export virgin lead and lead ore, if the toxic metal is mined from the ground it is a "commodity".   Some groups say that recycling should be treated differently, and under their interpetation of the Basel Convention, mining is allowed and recycling isn't.

Recycled lead sure walks and quacks like a commodity.  Chinese lead smelters are buying all the lead scrap they can get their hands on, as automobile ownership skyrockets in China, and demand for lead acid car batteries heats up.   Here is an article about the effects on lead smeltering businesses in Africa, which cannot afford to buy their own domestic African scrap batteries, because Chinese demand is so high.  The article points out that some countries are passing laws against the export of lead batteries in order to protect their domestic smelters. 

In fact, this month, India passed high tariffs on iron ore exports from India.  That's right, tariffs on their own mined raw material exports.  The Indian congress had actually considered a complete export ban.  Chinese demand is credited with the tug of war over these metals.

When I look at a Chinese company meeting demand for metals, like ARMCO, I see a company buying virgin ore, trading bulk raw materials, and (yes) importing scrap metal for recycling in China - about 1M tons per year.  I get the most excited about their recycling business.  

If you are a college student writing a paper about "e-waste" and the export controversy, I suggest you start with  - The US Geological Survey in the department of the interior tracks metals all over, both secondary metals and  primary (mined) ores.  Whether the lead in paint in toys is recycled or virgin is not the issue with lead paint in toys.  And lead paint in toys is certainly not an "e-waste" issue.

No comments: