In 2017, China enacted National Sword, banning the importation of certain types of solid waste and setting strict contamination limits on recyclable materials. This move caused challenges for global recycling markets, and now, in 2020, the industry is faced with another big challenge: COVID-19.
In a Q&A, The Wall Street Journal sits down with Waste Management (WM) Chief Financial Officer Devina Rankin to discuss how the company has been affected by the coronavirus and how it’s rethinking its business strategy.
The Wall Street Journal has more details:
Waste Management Inc. is dealing with an extraordinary amount of change in its recycling business. Two years ago, China decided to ban imports of mixed paper and plastic and introduced limits for scrap metal, upending global recycling markets. The disruption forced Waste Management, the largest residential recycler by volume in the U.S., to re-examine its strategy.
China’s shift has removed a major source of demand for recyclables, driving down their prices. It also resulted in higher processing costs, as many countries around the world followed the Chinese example and set higher quality standards for imports of recycled goods. Waste Management responded by asking municipalities to pay more for recycling services, the so-called fee-for-service strategy.