11 September 2020 by James Langley

Paper sector lobbies Indonesian Embassy over exports

Representatives of the UK recovered (waste) paper industry went to the Indonesian embassy in London yesterday (10 September) seeking clarity on the paperwork requirements for the export of material to the south east Asian country.

In the wake of the deputation, Dr Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, which co-ordinated the visit, warned that UK exporters could face a crisis situation with restrictions in China, Indonesia and Turkey, “three of the top five” export markets; (see also: Turkey’s move to use more domestic material).

The Indonesian government has developed a process for exporters of waste paper and other recyclable materials to register with Indonesian Embassies and Consulates to be allowed to supply the country with material. It is believed that any business not registered by 1 October will be unable to ship material to Indonesia.

Registration

However, the registration process in the UK was suspended in August. Many within the waste paper sector have yet to see their applications approved, seemingly amid confusion at the Indonesian embassy about the process. Exporters from other European countries and the USA are said to have been able to complete their registrations.

The small delegation, because of the pandemic, consisting of Dr Ellin and two Recycling Association members, Mike Challans, quality manager at WinFibre UK, and Pankaj Chowdhary, director of Ekman Recycling Limited, arrived at the Embassy in London at 10.30 on Thursday morning. They were  hoping to discuss their concerns with Nur Rakhman Setyoko, the Indonesian trade attaché. Mr Challans had also hoped to see his registration approved during the visit.

(l-r) Wearing Covid-19 masks, Dr Ellin and two Recycling Association members, Mike Challans, quality manager at WinFibre UK, and Pankaj Chowdhary, director of Ekman Recycling Limited, went to the Indonesian Embassy (picture: James Langley, letsrecycle.com)

Dr Ellin told letsrecycle.com: “Indonesia is in the top three destinations for UK paper. Added to what’s happened in Turkey this week, it represents crisis time for the UK.

“So, we decided to come here to doorstep the trade attaché, hoping to see them and get some clarity. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Restrictions

Concerns have been raised about the impact the potential suspension of exports could have on price; a halt on exports to Indonesia could force down the price of used cardboard, though this might be ameliorated by ongoing exports to China and other markets.

Dr Ellin said he believed Asosiasi Pulp & Kertas Indonesia (APKI), the Indonesian pulp and paper industries association, was also lobbying the southeast Asian country’s government to provide clarity on the restrictions.

Following the meeting Dr Ellin said that he was pleased the Embassy was “more aware” of the Association’s concerns although nothing had been resolved during the visit.

“Our main hope is that this whole process might be postponed for some weeks”

Dr Simon Ellin, the Recycling Association

“Our main hope is that this whole process might be postponed for some weeks as mills need the material and the Embassy needs time to come to terms with the process. We have concerns that there is no consistency in what is happening across their embassies and consulates because other exporters, such as the US, Australia and Italy who have got approval, will be able to steal a march on the UK.”

And, Dr Ellin reiterated his concerns that with China soon to close the doors on waste paper imports, Turkey imposing quotas and now the Indonesian difficulties, the UK might find it could not move waste paper.

“I have been saying for a long time that with the Resources & Waste Strategy setting higher recycling targets, attention needs to be paid to markets for material. There still remains a logic in markets which send the UK goods, taking recyclable material back for use by their mills and reprocessors.

Indonesia

According to Eurostat, Indonesia has grown as a destination for EU waste in the last few years, with volumes increasing from 400,000 tonnes in 2016 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2019. In June Indonesia announced it would allow a 2% contamination on waste commodity imports (see letsrecycle.com story).

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