China moves towards zero import of solid waste

China moves towards zero import of solid waste

China is a step closer to making limitations on importing solid waste from international countries including the US, UK and Australia. 

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed legislation last week to revise the country’s solid waste management policies, even though the government continues to approve imports of recovered fiber.

According to the Bureau of International Recycling, a Brussels-based global nonprofit, the revision passed on April 29 shows that China is moving towards gradually realising zero import of solid waste.

Several articles in the new waste law are relevant for businesses outside the country, according to the Bureau of International Recycling.

“The new Chinese waste law is modern and comprehensive and it covers industrial waste as well as waste from households, imports as well as exports,” the Bureau of International Recycling said in a statement.

“This new waste law will make great change within China.”

China’s policy revision is evidence that the country will further restrict and potentially end all waste imports. 

The goal of zero imports was also referenced in an official Chinese document from the National People’s Congress.

Translated to english, Article 24 in the revised waste policy states that the state gradually realizes zero imports of solid waste, “which shall be organised and implemented by the competent department of ecology and environment of the State Council in conjunction with the competent department of commerce, development and reform, customs of the State Council”.

The import note is just one component of the solid waste law revision, which also includes measures reducing single-use plastic production, bolstering domestic recycling capacity and establishing extended producer responsibility for certain products.

Early this year, Chinese officials said the country has a goal to halt all imports of materials deemed waste by the end of 2020.

China has issued six rounds of import permits, allowing a total of 4.5 million tonnes of recovered fiber into the country this year. More recently in February and March, China issued permits approving just 29,000 tonnes.

Last Month, China issued import permits for 1.3 million metric tons of recovered fiber.

In 2018, following the crackdown of waste imports known as National Sword that began a year prior, Chinese officials first stated the country will reduce recovered material imports, ending scrap plastic and mixed paper imports.

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