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SWANA Submits Comments to WTO Regarding China Waste Ban

The comments highlight what effect the proposed ban on certain categories of recyclables could have on municipal recycling in both the U.S. and Canada.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has submitted comments to the World Trade Organization in response to the July 18, 2017, notification from China on its intent to ban 24 types of solid waste imports.

The comments highlight what effect the proposed ban on certain categories of recyclables could have on municipal recycling in both the U.S. and Canada, requests further clarification on the terms of the ban and offers technical assistance to the Chinese government on waste and recycling-related matters.

“China’s proposed import ban is a very important issue for SWANA members in both the U.S. and Canada, and it’s a critical one for many of the communities they serve,” said David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO, in a statement. “We need to work with the Chinese government to develop a practical timeline for the proposed ban, while improving bale quality for material exported to China and other foreign markets.”

In addition, the comments explain the challenges that the U.S. will likely face in adapting to the ban, discuss recycling on the state and local levels and describe the lack of domestic recycling infrastructure to process material currently being exported.

“Because single stream recycling has become the prominent method of recycling in North America, it is imperative that the quality of the sorted recycled materials be as high as possible to avoid loads being rejected,” said Rich Allen, president of SWANA, in a statement. “Many material recovery facilities are looking to upgrade their sorting systems to improve the quality of their bales along with better educating their residents on what can and more importantly cannot be recycled. The actual impacts on the Chinese Waste Ban are still being interpreted, but SWANA is keeping close tabs on the implications for our members and the industry.”

SWANA supports the concerns previously filed by the International Scrap Recycling Institute (ISRI) and Waste Management and suggests a clearly defined five-year transition period for the ban in order to allow time for customers and suppliers in the U.S. and the global marketplace to adapt to the policy change. 

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