China confirms ban on solid waste imports by end of this year

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China recycling inspections ports that solid waste
Chinese customs officials inspect waste materials

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment in China has said that it will end solid waste imports by the end of this year.

This means that all grades of recovered paper and some metal grades will be banned for import into China following the ban on plastics and mixed paper that occurred at the beginning of 2018.

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It has been reported that China is planning to reclassify from July some higher grades of copper and aluminium scrap so that they escape the import ban. Shanghai Metal News has also reported that Chinese firms and institutions have met to develop standards on imported steel scrap.

There will be some hope that China will also reclassify some paper grades, but that possibility looks unlikely at the moment. However, China has yet to formally announce the materials by commodity codes it intends to ban as it did in April 2018 or notified the World Trade Organization as it did with previous material bans.

In a statement at a press conference held by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, spokesperson Liu Youbin said: “The Party Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to prohibiting the entry of foreign garbage and promoting the reform of the import management system for solid waste. 

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has delivered important speeches and made important directives on many occasions. He personally deployed and promoted the ban on the importation of foreign garbage and promoted the reform of the import management system for solid waste, which provided fundamental compliance and a powerful impetus for the reform.

“This year is the year of ending foreign garbage and advancing the reform of solid waste import management system. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment, together with the member units of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group, has formulated a work plan for 2020, which will significantly reduce the import of solid waste and maintain a high pressure to combat the smuggling of foreign garbage. 

“The newly amended Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes has significantly increased the fines for illegal dumping, stacking, and disposal of solid wastes entering the country. As of April 30, 2020, the national total import of solid waste was 2.49 million tonnes, a year-on-year decrease of 47.3%.

“In the next step, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will continue to work with relevant departments and regions to unswervingly grasp the iconic measure of the construction of an ecological civilisation that prohibits the import of foreign garbage, adhere to the same direction, continue to work hard, and advance various reform tasks in a solid manner to ensure that by 2020, by the end of the year, basically realise zero import of solid waste, and successfully complete the various objectives and tasks of the reform.”

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