Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said that the country will completely ban imports of foreign waste.
In his speech to the opening of the 13th National People’s Congress, the Premier was outlining the Chinese Government’s plans for the lifetime of the Congress, which lasts until 2023.
He said: “We will completely prohibit garbage from being brought into China.”
This was the only reference to imports of recycling in his speech, and so it isn’t clear if this means that ‘garbage’ as in contamination will be banned or if this will relate to all imports of secondary materials.
China said in July 2017 that it intends to replace imports of material where domestic sources can replace it by the end of 2019.
The country has been repeatedly tightening the screw on imports of recyclable material, banning most plastics (apart from post-manufacturing material) and mixed paper. It has also introduced a strict 0.5% contamination limit from this month on all secondary materials, apart from non-ferrous metals that are allowed a tolerance of 1%.
This reference in his speech could suggest that by 2023 China intends to ban all imports, or it could be read that these new contamination limits will be the way it will ban imports of “foreign garbage” until it becomes clearer what his true intentions are.
Over the next five years, the 13th National People’s Congress Standing Committee will revise solid waste laws, which could make the intentions of the Chinese Government on waste imports clearer.
The Premier made the reference to waste imports during a wide-ranging speech in a section devoted to the ‘Beautiful China’ environmental protections that the Government plans to introduce.