China will ban all imports of solid waste from 1 January 2021, authorities have said.
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.
Waste Management Review caught up with Veolia Australia and New Zealand’s Marc Churchin to discuss his vision for the newly created solid waste portfolio as the company moves towards a new organisational structure.
China has announced plans to completely eliminate solid waste imports by 2020, according to a recent Reuters report.
Starting in July, China will no longer accept imports of scrap steel, copper or aluminium, with the veto extended to scrap stainless steel and titanium by the end of 2019.
Director of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s solid waste division Qiu Qiwen reportedly said at a briefing that the ban aims to block the import of waste products that can be sourced domestically.
According to Reuters, since the 1980’s China has taken in hundreds of millions of tonnes of foreign paper, plastic, electronic waste and scrap metal for recycling.
Beijing began restricting deliveries last year, with customs authorities launching a series of crackdowns on waste smuggling, leading to hundreds of arrests.
Earlier this year India similarly announced a ban on solid plastic imports, after the country saw a drastic increase in waste imports as a result of the market vacuum generated by China’s National Sword policy.
China faces a solid waste treatment backlog of an estimated 60-70 billion tonnes, placing the country under significant pressure to boost its domestic recycling capacity.
Mr Qiwen said China imported 22.6 million tonnes of solid waste last year— down 47 per cent from the previous year.
“If 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,” Mr Qiwen said.
The announcement follows the January launch of the “waste-free cities” scheme, which aims to boost recycling and encourage the development of alternatives to landfill.
Under the scheme 10 cities will be selected for the first phase, with measures to include better sorting of solid waste, improvements in urban planning and the construction of new treatment facilities.
The global solid waste management market is expected to exceed USD 340 billion (AUD452.8) by 2024, according to a new research report from market research firm Global Market Insights Inc.
According to the report, the solid waste management industry has been growing significantly in terms of remuneration, due in part to increasingly stringent regulatory norms and guidelines.
- Waste 2018 wrap-up
- The future of waste in metro Melbourne: MWRRG
- Growth of big data influences solid waste industry
The European market is also set to grow exponentially as countries like the UK and Germany adopt new recycling technologies and introduce comprehensive directives to lower air pollution and land usage, according to the report.
It estimates the UK solid waste management industry size will surpass a total processing capacity of over 35 million tonnes by 2024.
The region also has been characterised by the interest in waste to energy (WtE) facilities being set up, the report said. Hitachi Zosen Inova AG has also announded recently to build Turkey’s first WtE plant – planned to be the largest WtE project in Europe with the capacity to process 15 per cent of Istanbul’s solid waste per year.
The report also says that companies like Biffa Group, Hitachi, Veolia, Amec Foster Wheeler, E.L. Harvey & Sons, and Stericycle have been focusing on acquiring upcoming companies to fortify their presence in the industry.