High level Chinese meeting approves further waste import restrictions

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Li Ganjie at the 13th National People's Congress recently

A meeting has been held in China that has led to further approval of more waste import restrictions.

Chaired by Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Li Ganjie, the executive meeting discussed three areas of new regulation planned by the Chinese Government.

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These are:

  • Implementation Plan for the Implementation of Foreign Solid Waste Importing and Promoting Solid Waste Import Management System Reform (2018-2020 Action Plan)
  • Special Supervision Action Plan for Imported Solid Waste Processing and Utilisation Enterprise Environmental Illegal Issues (2018)
  • Special Action Plan for Upgrading Standards for Waste Incineration Power Generation Industry.

The regulations were all approved to go forward by the meeting, as they are the policy of the Communist Party Central Committee and the Chinese Government State Council. The meeting therefore decided to “firmly implement” these regulations.

In terms of the detail of the regulations, it isn’t clear exactly what this will entail. But the first measure is a further ban on “foreign garbage imports” and seems to relate to the policy revealed last year where China will reduce waste imports and replace them with domestic sources by 2019. Among these proposals from last year was also a plan to restrict the sea ports where waste could be handled.

However, the phrase could easily be read as a total ban on foreign waste imports, although the fact that the 2019 measures were part of a plan to 2020 suggests it is part of that proposal from last year.

The second measure appears to relate to increasing inspections and is most likely to refer to the new Blue Sky 2018 inspection programme that has replaced National Sword, as well as increasing contact between the different government stakeholders involved in the inspection process including local and national regulators.

While the third measure is more related to domestic waste processing.

The meeting appeared to have backed the idea that extra resources should be dedicated to inspecting waste imports, as well as much stricter penalties for those found to be importing illegal materials.

All of these plans are part of the development of a Chinese circular economy.

Also attending the meeting were other key ministers from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

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