There Will Be Major Repercussions


China recently filed with the World Trade Organization its intent to ban the import of a number of scrap categories by the end of the year. We’re talking about mostly mixed paper and plastics along with scalings and other waste from the manufacturing of iron and steel. The filing states the reason for the import ban is, “We found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted China’s environment seriously. To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted.”

Last year, China imported 7.3 million tons of waste valued at $3.7 billion. It accounted for 56% of world imports.

A government statement from China says one of the goals of the ban is to also increase the amount of recycled domestic solid waste from 246 million metric tons in 2015 to 350 million tons by 2020.

The following news item is from CGTN America, which is the American division of CGTN, the English language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television:

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) released a statement from ISRI president Robin Wiener that says in part, “With more than $5.6 billion in scrap commodities exported from the United States to China last year alone, the trade in specification-grade commodities—metals, paper, and plastics— between the United States and China is of critical importance to the health and success of the US based recycling industry. If implemented, a ban on scrap imports will result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and closure of many recycling businesses throughout the United States.”

Wiener also says, “More than 155,000 direct jobs are supported by the US industry’s export activities, earning an average wage of almost $76,000 and contributing more than $3 billion to federal, state, and local taxes. A ban on imports of scrap commodities into China would be catastrophic to the recycling industry.” MSW_bug_web

  • Dr Terence Mewis.

    Well done to China. If every country took responsibility for its waste and processed internally the planet would be a cleaner place.

  • John Johnston.

    I was surprised at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries negative response. Assuming that government requirements mandating reductions landfilling remain in place, closing down the cheap alternative (dumping our waste in China) should boost the opportunities for the domestic recycling industry. A downside is that consumers may have to pay more, but that will create an economic incentive for manufacturers to reduce the waste streams associated with their products. It will also reduce CO2 emissions from hauling waste across the globe. ISRI should look at this as an opportunity not a liability.

  • rosemary sutherland.

    Good for them. Its time every nation was accountable for their own environmental damage.

  • David Albers.

    How philosophically intriguing! A nation which is hostile to the free practice of religion recognizes that responsibility must prevail over freedom.

  • Eric O.

    Wow! Either the way wage gap between a CEO and their workforce is extreme or I am getting underpaid! $76,000 as a median wage? I am not far off, however, I am still thousands short.


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