China’s announcement on recovered plastics and paper

An announcement was made recently by the Government of China that it intends to block some grades of recovered paper and plastic materials as scrap resources by the end of 2017. This ban stems from China’s previous policies, the Green Fence of 2013 and the National Sword of 2016, aimed to reduce the amount of contaminated plastics and other “waste” materials including paper and scrap metal entering the country.

Reports such as: China says it will ban certain recovered material imports (Resource Recovery, posted July 19, 2017) suggest that China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is targeting imported materials of poor quality that contain “dirty wastes or even hazardous materials”. The report also indicated the Environment Ministry is cracking down on recycling and scrap processing operations in China by revoking licenses where environmental infractions are occurring.

China is an end market destination for some Canadian mixed plastics, polyethylene and polystyrene, so the ban may potentially affect markets for some recovered plastics materials in the coming months.

APRA’s actions

The Alberta Plastics Recycling Association (APRA) has been working directly with stakeholders including the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA). CPIA has contacts within North American organizations such as the American Chemistry Council, the Association of Plastic Recyclers and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries who are reviewing the proposed ban and discussing market options. APRA and CPIA have met with representatives from the Canadian Trade Commission Service, who are keen to help acquire more details around China’s announcement including the types, grades, and quality of plastics that might be affected. We plan to communicate this information to our members and stakeholders when we know more.

How will this affect recycling for the general public and industry in Alberta?

Part of the work we are doing is to determine if the new rules will impact municipalities’ and citizens’ access to recycling opportunities. We are working to fully understand the materials targeted in the ban and work backward to their source to provide support. We are working to conclude if high quality recyclable plastics, such as clean and separated plastic from industrial processing, will be impacted.

Next steps

  • The collection of quality plastics for recycling is important. APRA wants to help municipalities understand the best processes for collecting plastics including education about plastics separation, by recycling number, and reduced contamination (no mixed plastics or plastics contaminated with food or other garbage).
  • Please let APRA know if you have questions or would like to be added to our contact list to receive updates and information on the topic (email info@albertaplasticsrecycling.com or call 403-835-6467). We are happy to hear your questions.

Sincerely,

Tammy Schwass
Executive Director
Alberta Plastics Recycling Association

APRA’s mission is to facilitate the development of efficient and effective programs to manage plastics waste through the use of waste management options, including reduction, reuse, recycling and energy recovery.

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