A global chess game is changing the geography of the world’s paper manufacturing and recycling sectors.

30 Oct 2018

Feature Story from Recycling Today by Brian Taylor

​During the previous two decades, China emerged and then solidified its role as the leading producer and consumer of nearly every basic material, including base metals, plastic and paper and board.

The global shift in resources also entailed China becoming a magnet for secondary raw materials, including millions of tons annually of paper, metal and plastic scrap imported from other nations.

In the closing years of this decade, however, several factors seem to be combining to slow down and reverse this pattern, which has largely dictated how recyclers in North America conduct business.

Decisions made in Beijing, Washington, other world capitals, state capitals and in corporate board rooms around the world are contributing to a series of moves and countermoves reminiscent of a chess game—each move of a piece can dictate where tons of scrap paper are shipped and consumed.