MSW Management

A Lump of Coal for Christmas

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As we near the end of the year, we continue to keep our eyes on the latest developments regarding the China waste ban. By staying on top of any changes, our reactions and decisions will be informed.

Of course, the Solid Waste Association of North America is meticulously monitoring the situation, and there have been some new developments. SWANA President and CEO David Biderman gives an update on the Association’s efforts in SWANA’s November 2017 Member Newsletter.

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He says, in part:

“In late October, several SWANA representatives spoke with Canadian trade officials in Ottawa and Switzerland about the impact of China’s waste import restrictions on recycling in Canada, and helped prepare them for a WTO meeting in early November.

I also spoke at a national conference of state solid waste officials and on several webinars about the impact of China’s actions on North American recycling programs, including an EPA webinar with one thousand participants.

A key role that SWANA has played over the past few months has been informing federal agencies in Washington about the impact of China’s waste import restrictions on local recycling programs throughout the United States. We regularly email articles and information to Commerce, USTR, and EPA, as well as Canadian governmental representatives.

In mid-November, China submitted new Notifications to the WTO, slightly easing the contamination standard applicable to waste paper and plastic to 0.5%, and delaying implementation to March 1, 2018. I expect SWANA will file comments on these new Notifications in mid-December. SWANA sent a second letter to the state agencies updating them about this latest development, reiterating our previous advice to focus on quality and communicate with all stakeholders.

It is unclear whether there will be additional changes to China’s waste import restrictions, and what the precise impact will be on American and Canadian recycling programs. It appears the impact differs depending upon geography, but in at least one state, some temporary disposal of recyclables is being authorized, in a few locations. Regardless of where you are, SWANA will continue to provide timely updates to members, state officials, and others, about this dynamic and important issue.”

So China’s new contamination standard for waste paper and plastic moves to 0.5% which is so underwhelming, it’s dramatic. And the new date for implementation is March 1, 2018. It’s still not enough time to create and build solutions, but I guess we can get a good amount of lobbying China done between now and then. MSW_bug_web

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