United States calls on China to halt solid waste import ban in WTO complaint

China passes environmental pollution by solid waste law
China's 17th Meeting of the 13th National People's Congress approves final draft of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste law

The United States has complained to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about China’s solid waste import ban and called on it to “immediately halt implementation”.

In a submission to the WTO, the US Government asked China to outline its pre-inspection laws and regulations in full as these are required to be made available immediately after publication.


However, the United States also used the same document to register its view that China has banned imports of a globally traded commodity rather than a waste.

The statement said:

“Measures notified by China related to the import of scrap materials

  1. The United States would also like to reiterate its continuing concern with the measures China notified related to the import of scrap materials. As repeatedly expressed in other WTO meetings, the United States has significant concerns about China’s measures that ban or severely limit the import of scrap materials. Since 2017, China has issued successive measures that outright ban or effectively ban the import of a number of scrap materials with little or no prior notice or comment period. Furthermore, the 2019 revisions of its draft Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes, continue to define ‘solid waste’ to include all scrap materials, and expressly ban these imports despite concerns raised by the United States and other stakeholders. To be clear, scrap materials (1) have been separated from the waste stream for recycling as a raw material and (2) are saleable items traded within a distinct global marketplace (i.e., they have an underlying economic value). These qualities make the inclusion of scrap materials as “waste” inaccurate.
  2. We are concerned both with the overly broad scope of China’s import control measures related to scrap materials and with what appear to be different requirements for foreign and domestic commodities. We reiterate our request that China immediately halt implementation of its ban and revise the relevant measures in a manner consistent with existing international standards for trade in scrap materials, which provide a global framework for transparent and environmentally sound trade in recycled commodities.”

China will now be expected to respond to the questions and statement from the United States.

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