The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has expressed dissappointment with China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) decision to finalise a quality standard of 0.5% for certain imported recyclables.
“SWANA is disappointed the Chinese government did not modify its waste import restrictions in response to the serious concerns raised by North American, European, and Asian governmental authorities and associations,” said David Biderman, the SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO.
“We support the MEP’s efforts to improve the environment in China, but these extraordinary restrictions are already adversely impacting recycling programs throughout North America,” he continued.
SWANA said that it continues to monitor the impacts of the restrictions, which have already been felt across North America.
“Recyclables are going to landfills in Oregon, to waste to energy facilities in Massachusetts, and being stored in warehouses and parking lots in the U.S. and Canada,” added Biderman.
According to SWANA many American and Canadian companies and local governments have made substantial changes to their operations in response to the restrictions and the sharp decrease in import licenses issued by Beijing in late 2017 and 2018.
Now that the quality standard has been finalised the organisation said that North American recycling operations must prepare for March 1, 2018, when the contamination standard officially takes effect.
SWANA has urged state and local governments to work closely with the private sector and other stakeholders to educate consumers about the need for recyclables to be free from contamination, and encourage operational changes that result in cleaner materials.
The trade body also submitted comments to the World Trade Organization in August 2017 and December 2017, asking the Chinese government to delay implementation of its waste import restrictions, seeking clarification on the standards, and offering technical assistance on waste and recycling-related matters.
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