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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Qantas and SUEZ operate world’s first zero waste flight

The first commercial flight to produce no landfill waste took off this morning, as part of Qantas’ plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020 and eliminate 75 per cent of its waste by 2021.

With support from SUEZ, all inflight products on board QF739 flying from Sydney to Adelaide and staffed by cabin crew from the Qantas ‘Green Team’, will be disposed of via compost, reuse or recycling.

Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the trial flight was an important milestone for the national carrier’s plan to slash waste.

“In the process of carrying over 50 million people every year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully-laden Boeing 747 jumbo jets,” Mr David said.

“We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”

Mr David said this flight would typically produce 34 kilograms of waste, with the Sydney to Adelaide route producing 150 tonnes of waste annually.

“This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers,” Mr David said.

“About 1000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether from the flight, including individually-packaged servings of milk and Vegemite.”

According to Mr David, alternative products used during the flight include meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch, all of which are fully compostable.

“At the end of the meal service, Qantas cabin crew collected items left over for reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams,” Mr David said.

“Customers used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, with staff on hand to make sure any paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably.”

SUEZ Australia and New Zealand Director of Sustainability Justin Frank said SUEZ is proud to be supporting Qantas in meeting their waste reduction targets.

“SUEZ and Qantas have collaborated for over 15 years now and we’re looking forward to continuing to help them achieve their targets of diverting waste from landfill, using sustainable products and avoiding use altogether,” Mr Frank said.

“SUEZ is working with Qantas on other diversion and recycling measures throughout their operations, including head office and lounges to assist them with their waste reduction goals.”

Qantas lounges at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal went ‘green’ for the duration of the flight.

“In its effort to remove 100 million single-use plastic items every year by the end of 2020, Qantas and Jetstar will replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives,” Mr David said.

“Airlines are legally required to dispose of some materials permanently, such as quarantined food from international flights – Qantas will work with suppliers and government to reduce the volume of this waste.”

The zero-waste flight was also 100 per cent carbon offset.

“Qantas operates the largest carbon offset scheme in the aviation industry, with a passenger offsetting their flight every minute,” Mr David said.

“From mid-2019, customers will earn 10 Qantas Points for every dollar spent offsetting their travel from Australia, which is the highest standard earn rate of any frequent flyer initiative.”

Additionally, Qantas last year operated the first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States using biofuel processed from mustard seed and in 2012 operated Australia’s first biofuel trial flights.

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Pepsico ANZ partners with REDCycle to recycle chip packets

PepsiCo ANZ has partnered with REDcycle to help convert chip packets into furniture, bollards, signage and other sturdy products.

Consumers will be able to drop off chip packets and other soft plastics at participating supermarkets, which will go to REDcycle’s processing partner Replas to turn into fitness circuits, outdoor furniture and bollards.

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These recycled plastic products will be purchased by PepsiCo and donated to parks, public places and schools.

One of PepsiCo’s global Performance with Purpose goals is to achieve zero waste to landfill in direct operations by 2025 through efficient and responsible waste management.

Partnering with REDcycle complements PepsiCo’s strategy to design out waste by minimising the amount of materials used in packaging.

PepsiCo ANZ Environment Manager Janine Cannell said the company is pleased to be working with REDcycle.

“This is a great opportunity for us to recover what would otherwise go to landfill and use the recycled materials to better the communities we operate in,” Ms Cannell said.

REDcycle Director Liz Kasell said the company is delighted to have PepsiCo as REDcycle partners and looks forward to seeing what we can create using recycled materials.

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