Domestic buyers of shredded nonferrous sensor-sorted scrap,
known as zurik, have been flooded with calls from exporters of
the material as stepped-up regulations on solid
waste shipments to China, known as Operation Green
Fence, continue to restrict flow to Chinese consumers, sources
Zurik, which is
comprised mainly of stainless steel, insulated copper wire,
aluminum, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel, tin and zinc, is
largely regarded as a banned material under the guidelines set
forth by Operation Green Fence (amm.com, June 12). In
the United States there are only a handful of major consumers
of zurik who are able to properly separate the material using
heavy media separation and other proprietary technologies.
"The export market is
almost non-existent, especially with the problems in China,"
one exporter said, adding that prices have declined over the
past few months due to a surplus of material. "There is a
scramble to figure out what to do with all this stuff," he
Because Zurik has been
shipped almost entirely to China for the past decade, many
exporters have been forced to search for other international
destinations to ship material. Vietnam and Mexico have been
accepting zurik shipments on a limited basis largely because of
an ability to hire a work force that can hand-pick the
material, a second exporter said, noting that without a
dedicated labor market or heavy media separation technology,
zurik is virtually useless to processors and stainless steel
sellers said domestic consumers are the only buyers active in
zurik the market. "When Green Fence went up, I went to India
and when the tariffs went up in India I stopped shipping
overseas all together," a third exporter said.
Others said that some
recyclers are attempting to upgrade their shredders to produce
material that could be sold to domestic stainless mills or
shipped overseas as a high-grade zurik package. "I have heard
that investments have been made at a couple of shredders around
the country to make a product that is in the 90-percent
metallic range," the second exporter said.
One domestic zurik
buyer said his phone has been ringing off the hook since Green
Fence was implemented in March.
"People think that zurik is worth a lot more than it really
is," he said. "Since Green Fence, we have been getting a lot
more calls and most times we cant accept it. What people
dont realize is that even a heavy media separator
wont separate the material properly. We have had to
develop proprietary technology to perfect the separation
process. The whole thing takes a lot of time and money."
A fourth exporter said the zurik market will likely be in flux
until Chinese consumers are able to resume buying.