China announces import ban on additional 32 types of ‘solid waste’

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) announced on 19 April 2018 that China will ban imports of an additional 32 types of scrap material in its latest move to tackle environmental pollution. Sixteen types of scrap metals (termed as ‘solid waste’ by MEE) including automobile, vessels, cable and wire scrap, industrial plastic scrap will be banned from import with effect from December 2018, said MEE in an online announcement.

A further 16 types of scrap material including stainless steel scrap, titanium scrap, wood waste, etc., will be banned from 31 December 2019. Along with the prohibitions that came into force end 2017 this would mean that all plastic scrap, including industrial and post-consumer, will be prohibited to export to China by December 2018.

China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials in the 1980s, and has for years been the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials. The government began to take corrective measures with regard to scrap imports starting 2017 with the goal of reducing environmental pollution in the nation.

China is the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials and after the ban on 24 waste and scrap items starting January 2018, these additional import prohibitions, together with the very high quality thresholds in the Chinese scrap standards, will put great pressure on the scrap processing capacity of the global recycling industry outside China, said BIR in a statement.