March 23, 2018 / 5:42 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-China Feb waste imports tumble amid crackdown

* Waste plastic imports at virtually zero last month - customs

* Scrap metal imports down 38.5 pct y-o-y to 440,000 tonnes

* Impact of action on U.S. aluminium scrap likely limited- analyst (Updates throughout)

BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - China’s waste plastic imports dried up almost entirely in February and scrap metal imports fell by 38.5 percent year on year as the country enforced its clampdown on foreign waste, customs data showed on Friday.

Waste plastics imports in January and February combined tumbled by 99.5 percent to just 10,000 tonnes, with the data recording a zero tonnage volume for imports last month and an import value of just 640,000 yuan ($101,100).

Waste paper imports in February, which included the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, fell by 47.8 percent to 1.27 million tonnes, while scrap metal imports were down 38.5 percent to 440,000 tonnes last month, the General Administration of Customs said.

China last year notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) it would stop accepting certain types of foreign solid waste in 2018 if they did not meet tighter impurity thresholds.

Imports of scrap copper, which have also been affected by a ban on traders importing the material unless they can show they are end-users, were down 52.4 percent year on year in Febuary to 130,000 tonnes and down 39.9 percent to 330,000 tonnes in the first two months of 2018, according to the customs data.

Imports of scrap aluminium, which are set to be targeted in China’s retaliatory measures against U.S. steel and aluminium import tariffs, were down 28.7 percent year on year last month, and fell 8.7 percent in January and February.

China imported 618,287 tonnes of scrap aluminium from the United States, its top supplier, in 2017. Total scrap aluminium imports were 2.17 million tonnes last year.

But Jackie Wang, an aluminium analyst at consultancy CRU in Beijing, said the impact of any trade action on U.S. aluminium scrap imports would be very limited.

“The trend for scrap in China is the country is going to reduce imports and use more and more domestic scrap,” she said. ($1 = 6.3306 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin)

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