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China to ban import of scrap plastic

July 20, 2017

Shredded and sorted plastic. Credit Cartridge-Space

China has this week filed a notification with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it intends to ban four classes and 24 kinds of solid waste by the end of the year including all plastics scrap, unsorted waste paper, certain metal recycling residues, textiles and all unsorted waste or scrap.

In the notification, China made it clear that it will no longer tolerate high levels of contamination from ‘dirty wastes’ or ‘hazardous wastes’ that it sees as damaging to both its ‘environmental interests’ and ‘people’s health’.

The filing of the notification could mean losing China as one of the biggest markets for recycled materials.

The Recycling Association in the UK launched a “Quality First campaign” almost a year ago to highlight the risk of China taking such actions. The campaign is looking to sort the recycled materials to the highest quality so they cannot be rejected or banned.

Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises managing director Colin Clarke said: “Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises along with our competitors ACN and Cyclelink UK have jointly supported the Quality First campaign because the mills we supply were increasingly concerned about rumours and actions, such as National Sword, coming from the Chinese Government about a crackdown on imports of recycled materials.

“For the time being, we are still able to export OCC, mixed paper and other grades to China as it is only unsorted waste paper imports that have been banned.

“The word from China is that we purchase a grade made to a global specification and not unsorted papers. Normal caveats apply when dealing with the Chinese authorities that if bad shipments are received, then mixed papers in particular could be at threat of a ban.

“We should also be clear that China is very serious about protecting its environment and the public health of its citizens. If we do not ensure our exports of paper are of the very highest quality, then we are at risk closing our most important market for recovered paper.

 “The UK, Europe and other Asian destinations simply do not have the capacity to take all of our excess recovered paper, so we must make sure China remains open to us by providing it with a high quality secondary commodity.”


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