China set to publish law on banning imports of recyclable materials

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Hangzhou Customs waste paper
Hangzhou Customs officials inspect rejected waste paper

The Chinese Government has said it expects to publish its revised Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes law soon.

Last summer, a draft law was consulted on that proposed banning the import of solid wastes, although the date on which that would be implemented was left blank.

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At a press conference, Ministry of Ecology and Environment spokesperson Liu Youbin said that the department was “actively promoting the revision of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes, and striving to introduce the law as soon as possible, providing a solid legal guarantee for the comprehensive prohibition of foreign garbage entry and promotion of the reform of the import management system for solid waste.”

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Interestingly, that quote seems to suggest that China is making a separation between “foreign garbage” and “solid waste” with it implied that the latter may be permitted in some form. However, the draft law published last year called for a ban on import of solid waste.

With China introducing new import restrictions on certain grades of scrap metal including copper, aluminium and steel from 1 June, it could be that these will continue to be permitted imports once the law is published.

The expectation in the recycling market is that paper imports will be banned by end of 2020 under the new law, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Liu Youbin did reveal however, that all solid waste imports had fallen by 37.6% to 3.43 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

REB Market Intelligence understands that the revised law is one of six environmental laws that are currently being considered by the National People’s Council of China legislative body, with the aim of publishing these by the end of the year.

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