China’s crackdown on contaminated imports is causing pileups of materials like cardboard, magazines and unsorted mixed paper in Hong Kong. And the Hong Kong Executive Council is worried that these pileups will leave Hong Kong “surrounded by garbage” because China refuses to absorb it.
Countries like the Philippines or Vietnam may now be poised to accept the materials, but their economic models for dealing with waste and recycling materials is dubbed as unsustainable and not good for the environment, according to Steven Burns, a recycling expert and commercial director of Scottish company Impact Solutions.
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Mountains of cardboard, old magazines, unsorted mixed paper and other items intended for recycling processing have been allowed to pile up around the main port of Hong Kong because of mainland China’s crackdown on contaminated imports.
The Chinese government’s programme to banish what it has termed “hazardous wastes” has already sparked a small-scale political crisis, with local media reporting on strike action by waste-paper exporters furious at the sudden implementation of new border restrictions.
They have grown used to moving recyclable material relatively seamlessly across Hong Kong’s border with mainland China, but the country’s national government has now instituted stricter checks, causing a waste bottleneck. Worldwide cardboard and paper prices are also said to have risen sharply because of the move, and even Donald Trump has been drawn into the crisis, as his administration felt forced to raise the issue with the Chinese.