Chinese official suggests there will be more regulation around solid waste import ban

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

A Chinese official has said that there will be new regulation related to the solid waste import ban due at the end of this year.

In a press conference, Ministry of Ecology and Environment Solid Waste and Chemicals Department director Qiu Qiwen answered questions from Chinese journalists.

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He announced that up to 15 November 2020, just 7.18 million tonnes of solid waste had been imported to China, which was a 41% year-on-year decrease.

In 2016, 46.55 million tonnes of material had been imported, and this had fallen to 42.27 million tonnes in 2017, 22.63 million tonnes in 2018 and 13.48 million tonnes in 2019.

He also confirmed that 13 batches of solid waste import licenses have been processed in 2020 “and the approval work for the whole year has ended”.

But he also announced that there would be further rules and regulations drawn up by his department as part of a list of responsibilities he had been given.

He said: “One is to work with relevant departments to implement the newly revised Solid Waste Law, improve related supporting laws and regulations, and complete the establishment, abolishment and reform of the system related to the complete ban on the import of solid waste.”

Later in the press conference, he acknowledged that China would be short of material and work was being done to “gradually fill up the domestic resources gap”.

He also noted that the new Solid Waste Law clarifies that material will not be classified as solid waste if “it has been processed in a harmless manner, and complies with mandatory national product standards, and will not harm public health and ecology”.

But he also said that his department would revise the GB standards that identify whether materials are classified as solid waste or meet the country’s end-of-waste criteria.

He said: “In the next step, our ministry will continue to promote the formulation and revision of relevant standards and specifications for the identification of solid waste and hazardous waste.”

China has already revised standards that permit the import of scrap industrial metals and is believed to be revising the standards for plastics. There are rumours it may also permit some paper imports eventually too.

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