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U.S. Recyclables Pile Up as China’s Waste Import Ban Goes into Effect

Mountains of U.S. recyclables are piling up as municipal solid waste departments, haulers, recyclers and other stakeholders try to find new options for recyclable products.

In July 2017, China registered with the World Trade Organization its intent to forbid 24 kinds of solid wastes by the end of the year. And in the second half of 2017, municipal solid waste departments, haulers, recyclers and other stakeholders in the industry tried to make sense of China's move and to prepare for a new reality. Eventually, China slightly softened its proposed contamination standards, but industry officials continued to try to push back.

Now, at the start of 2018, the National Sword policy has taken effect and mountains of U.S. recyclables are piling up as municipal solid waste departments, haulers, recyclers and other stakeholders try to find new options for recyclable products.

Public Radio International has more:

Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables leave US ports bound for China. China sends the US toys, clothes and electronics; in return, some of America’s largest exports back are paper, plastic and aluminum.

But that equation is changing as of Jan. 1 — China is enforcing its new “National Sword” policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers, and sets a much tougher standard for contamination levels.

China notified the World Trade Organization about the ban in July, essentially saying the country would no longer act as the world’s trash dump. Currently, China consumes 55 percent of the world’s scrap paper and is a major destination for other recyclables.

Read the full story here.

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