The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) said that a translation of an official Chinese government announcement reveals the country’s intention to reduce solid waste imports to zero by 2020.
The announcement was published on 24 June by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in the original language, as part of wide-ranging set of environmental plans.
An online translation of the relevant section reads: “China has completely banned the entry of foreign garbage, cracked down on smuggling, drastically reduced the number and types of solid waste imports, and strived to achieve zero imports of solid waste by the end of 2020.”
China has been setting and increasing the number of restrictions on imports during the past few months.
The restrictions have had a major impact on the global recycling market as new routes for exported waste have been found.
In the UK, there have been warnings of stockpiling of waste materials and increasing costs to councils to pay for greater sorting.
The BIR said: “As governments create their circular economies by substituting primary raw materials with recycled raw materials, questions will inevitably arise about exactly when wastes cease to be wastes and become those recycled raw materials.
“Furthermore, countries that are not self-sufficient in recycled raw materials will need to import them for their manufacturing needs.
“The BIR predicts further changes to Chinese standards and laws in order to effect its recycled raw material needs.”