The World Trade Organization (WTO) has requested a five-year grace period before China places restrictions on secondary material entering the country, according to the Recycling Association (RA).
Defra has also defended its response to the restrictions after being sharply criticised by the RA.
China eased its proposed acceptable contamination limits for a range of imported secondary materials from 0.3% to 0.5% in a recent submission to the WTO.
Mixed paper and post-consumer plastics will be banned outright. The new rules are set to be enacted on 1 March 2018.
RA president Adrian Jackson said the new target was still “very challenging” and that the UK would struggle to meet the standards.
He added: “We understand that the WTO has requested a transition period of five years, and we will be pushing for the Chinese government to give more certainty to the worldwide recycling industry by taking on-board this request.”
Earlier this month, environment secretary Michael Gove said he had “not given sufficient thought” to the effects on the UK of China’s ban on waste imports, which drew an angry response from RA chief executive Simon Ellin.
But a Defra spokesperson told MRW: “We are aware of this situation and are taking the potential implications of these proposals seriously.
“We are in regular contact with the Chinese government via the EU and UK concerns have been represented at the recent WTO meetings.”
Defra said it was collaborating with the industry, Environment Agency and Department of International Trade to see how to respond to the ban.
It commended the Environmental Services Association for its response, and said efforts should be should be focused on raising standards, diversifying markets and coming up with robust contingency plans.