China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) recently announced that China will ban imports of 32 types of solid waste in order to reduce environmental pollution.
The MEE said that 16 types of solid waste, including compressed car scraps and scrapped ships, will be banned from import beginning from 31st December 2018. And a further 16 types, including stainless steel scraps, will be banned beginning from the 31st December 2019.
The MEE states that Since the 1980s, China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials, and has for years been the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials. But these solid waste materials can contain harmful elements if not properly disposed of.
The reason behind China’s decision to ban these imports is so that replacements are made by their own resources by the end of 2019.
British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is concerned about the list solid wastes included in the ban and are “seeking further information and clarity while sharing our concerns with the other members of the EA China waste restrictions liaison group and more widely with Government.”
BMRA’s colleagues at ISRI shared information regarding the ban stating that by end 2018, steel slag, post-industrial plastics, compressed auto pieces, small electric motors and insulated wires, and vessels will be prohibited and by the end of 2019, wood pellets, stainless steel scrap, and nonferrous scrap excluding aluminum and copper will be banned.
They state that ‘China is a significant market for UK recyclers with around 400,000 tonnes of different metals worth over £200 million being sent to China in 2017.’ They also point out ‘with the shipping companies already nervous about taking materials to China, the situation could worsen even more rapidly.’
BMRA said ‘It is now more important than ever for the Government to take the global changes regarding waste and recycling into account when developing its Resources and Waste Strategy. By including pull mechanisms and promoting sustainability through green procurement, Government could really show it support for, and help build, a robust recycling industry in the UK.’
It would be a good opportunity for the UK Government to take heed of the China’s ban on solid wastes when looking to their own waste and resources strategy.
According to the China Daily, www.ecns.cn DEFRA ‘has delayed publication of the (resources and waste) strategy due to new government policies aimed at reducing single-use plastic waste, brought about in part by China’s import ban.’
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