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December 1, 2020

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Solid waste imports fall ahead of ban

CHINA’S imports of solid waste have continued to drop amid the country’s green development compaign, and a sweeping ban on such imports will take effect from the beginning of next year.

As of November 15, China had imported 7.18 million tons of solid waste this year, down 41 percent year on year, said Qiu Qiwen, an official with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, yesterday.

The plunge is consistent with the downward momentum seen since late 2017 when the State Council, China’s Cabinet, tightened curbs on solid waste imports. The figures for the previous three years stood at 42.27 million tons, 22.63 million tons and 13.48 million tons, respectively.

According to a notice issued recently by the environment ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs, China will ban all imports of solid waste from January 1, 2021.

The dumping, stacking and disposal of waste products from abroad on Chinese territory will also be prohibited.

Any violation of the ban will be severely punished, according to Qiu.

The total ban is the culmination of policies introduced since 2017 to phase out the import of solid waste. For example, in late 2017 China banned the import of 24 types of solid waste, including unsorted paper, textiles and vanadium slag.

Since the 1980s, China has imported solid waste, which local companies would clean, crush and transform into raw materials for industries.

For years the country has been the world’s largest importer, despite its limited garbage disposal capacity. Some companies also illegally brought foreign waste into the country for profit, posing a threat to the environment and public health.

With public awareness of environmental issues and the success of China’s green development drive, the country’s solid waste imports have decreased significantly.


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