China Reaffirms Intent to Try to Eliminate Scrap Imports by 2020

Xinhua reported this week on a wide-ranging policy statement by the Central Committee of China's Communist Party that was released on June 16 and that outlines the Chinese government's overall strategy for reducing pollution across the country.

The statement, unofficially translated as "Good Pollution Prevention and Control Strategy," discusses the path towards President Xi's envisioned "Ecological Civilization" of a nation free of pollution. The "Five in One" policy talks about understanding the causes for China's environmental crisis, the vision for a "harmonious coexistence of man and nature," strengthening the party's leadership and government's resources to battle the crisis, pollution reduction targets and how to promote a greener lifestyle among the people.

For scrap trade, the statement notes the following (as unofficially translated): "China has completely banned the entry of foreign garbage, cracked down on smuggling, drastically reduced the number and types of solid waste imports, and strives to achieve zero imports of solid waste by the end of 2020."

ISRI believes this to be a reaffirmation of policy statements made in 2017 rather than a new policy or a new ban, although we are in the process of confirming that. The nuances of the Chinese language, coupled with a wider understanding of China's overall environmental policies and motivations, give us clues that China's market continues to close to scrap imports because of an intent to fulfill their own resource needs through domestic generation. The statement comes amid the completion of the government's reorganization and outlines the mission of the new Ministry of Ecology and Environment. 

There is no doubt that China's import restrictions continue to create many challenges for the recycling industry, especially given the short transition time. But this statement confirms that the restrictions are here to stay. ISRI is continuing to aggressively monitor all that is happening in China so as to provide the latest information to members and will provide updates as soon as additional information is available.

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