China officially notified the WTO on July 18th that by the end of the year it will enact a ban on the import of certain kinds of waste. As the text of China’s WTO filing reads, “China will forbid the import of 4 classes, 24 kinds of solid wastes, including plastics waste from living sources, vanadium slag, unsorted waste paper and waste textile materials. (…) To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted.”
China is a major importer of waste, accounting for 56% of world imports last year. Apart from Hong Kong, Japan and the United States are the two major sources of scrap sent to China. In a statement, the president of the US’s Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISPI) expressed his concerns: “If implemented, a ban on scrap imports will result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and closure of many recycling businesses throughout the United States… A ban on imports of scrap commodities into China would be catastrophic to the recycling industry”.