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China to cut ‘waste’ imports to zero in 2020

China aims to cut “solid waste” imports to zero by next year as it seeks to reduce pollution and encourage recyclers to manage the increasing volumes of domestic trash, a senior environment ministry official reports to Reuters.

In the Reuters report, Qiu Qiwen, director of Ministry Ecology and Environment (MEE) solid waste division, says, “China will further tighten restrictions on waste imports and eventually aims to realize zero waste imports by 2020.”

“Solid waste” imports to China already have been decreasing. According to MEE reports, China imported about 22.6 million metric tons of solid waste in 2018, which is down 47 percent compared with 2017 import levels.

Qiu adds that China will expand the number of “waste” products on its banned list in 2020. He says high-quality material will still be accepted “if the solid waste … meets the requirements of China’s import standards and doesn’t contain any hazards, then it can be treated as common commodities, not waste.”

Reuters reports that trash is one of China’s biggest challenges as the nation faces a solid waste treatment backlog of about 60 to 70 billion metric tons. China has also launched a scheme to create “waste-free cities” and is building “comprehensive recycling bases” across the country.

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