ISRI2017: Problems and solutions in India

ISRI2017: Problems and solutions in India

Bureaucratic and transportation hurdles remain in India, but government ministries say their actions are helping.

May 5, 2017
Brian Taylor
Auto Shredding Conferences & Events Ferrous Legislation & Regulations Nonferrous Plastics

Pictured above, left to right: Sunil Barthwal of the Ministry of Steel, BB Singh of MSTC Ltd., Sunil Bagaria of GDB International, Zain Nathani of Nathani Group and Adina Renee Adler of ISRI.


Current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to carve into India’s massive bureaucracy, and panelists at a “How to Do Business in India” session at ISRI2017, the annual convention of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI), said some progress is being made.


The panel included two representatives of India’s Ministry of Steel (which also regulates metal recycling), who portrayed positive changes taking place to ease regulations and smooth the process at ports and customs clearing points. Two private sector recyclers on the same panel credited the government for its actions, but cautioned that much more remained to be done.


Sunil Barthwal of India’s Ministry of Steel said his agency is are of India’s current and future scrap metal needs. He said India’s steel sector is expected to grow from 89 million metric tons per year of output currently to as much as 300 million metric tons by 2030. “You can imagine the amount of scrap we will require in a decade or so,” he commented.


He said India’s ferrous scrap deficit is poised to grow from 5 million tons per year currently to up to 9 million tons by 2022. Barthwal said the Ministry of Steel sees the nonferrous scrap deficit rising at a similar rate.


India’s government is planning to establish more recycling zones, simplify India’s GST (goods and services tax) system and take other steps to boost the recycling of vehicles, appliances and ships using “best practices,” said Barthwal.


BB Singh of MSTC Ltd., a public-private venture between the Ministry of Steel and Mahindra Intertrade, said the auto shredder being installed by MSTC in the Indian state of Gujarat is one such initiative.


Singh said India now has some 200 million vehicles on the road, and as they turn 10 and then 15 years old, “sooner or later these will come for shredding.” He added that MSTC is seeking to work with overseas companies to process auto shredder residue (ASR) “toward zero waste.”


If India reaches 300 million metric tons per year of steel output, Singh estimated that some 150 million metric tons of it would consist of scrap-intensive electric arc furnace (EAF) or induction steelmaking methods.


The government acknowledgement of the ferrous scrap deficit caused Zain Nathani of the Mumbai-based Nathani Group, who also is an officer of the Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI), to ask the Ministry of Steel to “please remove the ferrous scrap import duty; there is a deficit and we all recognize it.”


Nathani said the MRAI had been spending 2017 reacting to Indian government regulations concerning pre-shipment inspections of scrap; whether unshredded ferrous scrap can be imported; and which ports can be used to import scrap metal. While he applauded the government’s ability to use digital technology to replace paperwork, he said a recent demand for importers to file a bill of entry within 24 hours of a container’s arrival is too small of a window, and said the MRAI is requesting a 10-day window as more practical.


Sunil Bagaria of New Jersey-based GDB International said India’s basic materials and recycling market offer tremendous opportunities, but expressed frustration with several challenges. According to Bagaria, those challenges include:


  • burdensome customs procedures;
  • excessive use of paperwork and paper documents;
  • an arcane and cumbersome import duty structure;
  • price-conscious who withdraw from the market; and
  • stifling corruption, which he said is “part of doing business in India [and is] deeply engrained in the society.”

Bagaria also referred to bans on PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and other types of plastic scrap and said this runs counter to China’s policy in its high-growth years to welcome scrap materials as feedstock. “Let the industry decide if the scrap meets quality and environmental standards; let there be competition,” said Bagaria. “Just banning [scrap materials] is not the solution.”


ISRI2017 was in at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans April 22-27, 2017.