A consultation has been launched by the Chinese Government on new laws that would see a full ban on imports of all solid wastes for recycling.
The draft for comment of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Solid Waste Pollution Prevention was published on the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Protection website.
In Annex 1, Article 29 of the draft law “prohibits the import of solid waste”. This article contains no further words.
Article 86 of the law sets out the provisions if illegal waste is exported to China. For this material, Chinese Customs will be able to return the solid waste back to its point of origin. Fines of a minimum 100,000 yuan (£11,400) and up to 1 million yuan (£114,000) can be issued. If the importer is unclear, then the carrier is responsible for returning the waste or covering the cost of disposal.
In Annex 2, it sets out that this law was drafted in response to the “important contributions to the issue of solid waste” made by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This Annex 2, suggests that the solid waste laws are part of the 2018 legislative programme for the Chinese Government.
It also says that there will be full implementation of the Reforming the Import of Solid Waste Plan. Under this plan, imports of plastics and some other materials would be banned by the end of 2017 and there would be a restriction in the number of ports that would be allowed to take waste by the end of 2018. Both of these have already happened.
In this plan, it stated that all solid waste imports would be banned by the end of 2019 unless it could be replaced by domestic sources. However, since then, the Chinese Government has said that it intends to fully ban all waste imports by the end of 2020.
The consultation of the draft law seeks comments by 18 August, but Article 102 that says when the law will come into force is left blank. Depending on how quickly the draft law becomes legislation, it could be that a ban is imposed before either the end of 2019 or 2020.
This would include recycled paper and metals that are currently permitted for import into China.
The rest of the law focuses on Chinese domestic recycling and waste processing. It includes measures on producer responsibility and the circular economy.
It has also been revealed that Chinese customs cracked down on one million tonnes of smuggled illegal waste in the first six months of the year.