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China Releases Detailed Policy on its “Prohibition of Foreign Waste Imports”

In a detailed policy announcement on July 27, the Chinese government outlined its goals for tying import restrictions to improving domestic “recovery and reuse of domestic solid waste.”

It is the first acknowledgement that the government intends to “progressive[ly] stop solid waste imports” as they “can be replaced by domestic supplies before the end of 2019.” The government is concerned that “plastic waste imports from living sources as well as mixed paper … highly endanger the environment” and the government will “uphold monitoring controls…to ensure legitimate use of import permits.”  According to our sources, “from living sources” means plastics scrap from residential sources, which is banned, but industrial plastics scrap may be exempt. Definitions remain unclear, but we continue to work to gain clarity for our members.

ISRI is finalizing comments to the WTO notification, which will be submitted on the industry’s behalf by the U.S. Government. The document is a detailed reaction to the policy announcement and requests clarifications to better understand the materials subject to the ban. In addition, ISRI offers support to the Chinese government and its recycling industry to share resources on operational, safety and environmental practices that can help address their concerns about domestic processors’ own practices and the benefits to the environment of using scrap. This document will also be shared with policymakers in the Trump Administration and Capitol Hill as we continue to build their support for addressing this issue. Please contact Adina Renee Adler with any questions.

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