China aims to further tighten restrictions of waste imports and will look to cut waste imports to zero by next year, according to media reports from Reuters.
Beginning in 2013, China began to make a series of policy shifts to reduce the amount and types of recyclable materials into their country.
In 2017, China announced that it would impose a standard for certain recyclable materials far below industry standards. At the same time, it also banned the importation of several categories of curbside recycled materials.
Reuters reports a senior environment ministry official said the country looks to reduce pollution and encourage recyclers to treat soaring volumes of domestic waste.
“China will further tighten restrictions of waste imports and eventually aims to realise zero waste imports by 2020,” Qiu Qiwen, director of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s solid waste division, said.
Qiu said products not included on the banned list would also be restricted by next year, but high-quality material would still be accepted.
Chris Murphy – “What’s interesting is that the country will still accept material that meets its quality requirements. So this is really a case of semantics – if it meets the requirements, it’s a ‘commodity’ and if it doesn’t, it’s ‘waste’.”
“If the solid waste … meets the requirements of China’s import standards and doesn’t contain any hazards, then it can be treated as common commodities, not waste,” he said.
China imported 22.6 million tonnes of solid waste last year, down 47 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said.
The country faces a solid waste treatment backlog of around 60-70 billion tonnes.
CIWM’s executive director, Chris Murphy, said: “This recent move by China is simply the natural progression of its stance on reducing waste imports. The country has an increasing middle-class population and has to deal with its own recyclate, so the need to import has all but disappeared.
“What’s interesting is that the country will still accept material that meets its quality requirements. So this is really a case of semantics – if it meets the requirements, it’s a ‘commodity’ and if it doesn’t, it’s ‘waste’.
“CIWM generally supports what will be increasingly ‘the norm’, the principle of proximity, where waste is treated as close to source as possible.”