Sept 5 - China Issues New Policies to Toughen Recycling Practices

Plastics News reports that China has just issued new regulations that will help crack down on improper recycling practices in their country. These practices ban irresponsible handling of scrap materials, such as using recycled plastic to make food-contact bags, outdoor incineration of plastic scrap, and improper handling of waste from the recycling process.

The new regulations applies to the recycling of plastic scraps collected within China as well as imported scraps.

Since 2006, under China's national environmental protection standards, there has been a ban on import of unprocessed plastics scraps (i.e. unwashed, whole plastic containers). In addition, the recycling industry is prohibited from:

  • transferring imported waste to a company other than what is allowed by the import license;
  • selling unwashed leftover plastic materials after sorting and processing imported plastic scrap; and
  • Selling unwashed leftover plastic materials after sorting and processing imported scrap paper.

Though stringent, these policies has only been sporadically enforced.

Starting January 1, 2013 however, the Chinese government is asking provincial-level environmental protection and commerce administration agencies to inspect local recyclers and publish the list of qualified recyclers as well as companies that fail the inspection and follow-up actions. Only companies that have passed the inspection will be allowed to import waste plastics.

Californians Against Waste continues to support investing in domestic processing and manufacturing capacity of plastic. In California, thanks to the Plastic Market Development program (PMDP), there has been less exportation of plastics each year. The PMDP is a vital market-based incentive program with goal of increasing and supporting the California processing and utilization of CA-generated post-consumer recycled plastic. Governor Brown signed AB 1149 (Gordon & Wieckowski) into law last year, providing a 5 year extension of the PMDP Program.