China will ban all imports of solid waste from January 1, 2021, officials announced.
The dumping, stacking and disposal of waste products from abroad into Chinese territory will also be prohibited, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs.
The total ban is the culmination of policies introduced since 2017 to gradually eliminate the import of solid waste. For example, in late 2017, China banned the import of 24 types of solid waste, including unclassified paper, textiles and vanadium slag.
China started importing solid waste as a source of raw material in the 1980s and for years has been the largest importer in the world, despite its limited capacity in the treatment of waste. Some companies illegally brought foreign waste into the country for profit, posing a threat to the environment and public health.
With increasing public awareness of environmental issues and the success of China’s green development initiative, imports of solid waste from the country have declined significantly. Last year’s imports stood at 13.48 million tons, compared to 22.63 million tons in 2018. In the first 10 months of this year, these imports fell 42.7% in annual terms.
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