According to recycling leaders, who traveled to China in the hopes of obtaining clarification on China’s impending imports ban, China is unprepared to enact or enforce the waste policies that are set to roll out Jan. 1.
President of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Robert Wiener and ISRI Chairman Mark Lewon met with U.S. officials, Chinese officials, and scrap industry associates in China. In an update to association membership, Weiner and Lewon, reported Chinese regulators are still at odds in determining what constitutes waste versus a usable resource and when asked general questions, the agency tasked with inspecting incoming loads was unable to answer basic questions about the ban.
“During our meetings it was clear that there is little understanding within the Chinese government of the chaos they have created,” they wrote.
Upon asking for clarification of the definition of “carried waste,” which is often synonymous with “contamination,” ISRI reported Chinese officials have yet to agree on which types of paper and plastics will be banned and have not determined the specific timing of the restrictions.
“For ‘carried waste,’ it is clear they do not want imported trash, but they are confused as to how to define what is trash and what is not. Beyond that, they have not fully prepared for the implementation of the regulations, and we believe even more confusion and inconsistency is yet to come,” the ISRI leaders stated.
Due to the confusion and lack of preparation shown by the Chinese government, ISRI advised exporters to double down on quality control, highly recommended documenting extensively the condition and contents of all shipments before they are sent, and to be prepared for a greater number of rejected loads.
ISRI also expressed concern that China’s tightened import regulations could “set off a wave of copycat rules in other countries,” and urged the recycling and scrap industries to show commitment to quality.