Friday, October 20, 2017

China's ban on foreign waste may greatly impact the world's recycling

China's ban on foreign waste
The dominant position that China holds in global manufacturing means that for many years China has also been the largest global importer of many types of recyclable materials. Last year, Chinese manufacturers imported 7.3 million metric tons of waste plastics from developed countries including the U.K., the EU, the United States and Japan.

However, in July 2017, China announced big changes in the quality control placed on imported materials, notifying the World Trade Organization that it will ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of the year. This campaign against yang laji or "foreign garbage" applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers.

The impact of this will be far reaching. China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go.

This applies equally to other countries including the EU27, where 87 percent of the recycled plastic collected was exported directly, or indirectly (via Hong Kong), to China. Japan and the United States also rely on China to buy their recycled plastic. Last year, the United States exported 1.42 million tons of scrap plastics, worth an estimated $495 million to China.

 'foreign garbage'

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