SWANA submits comments to World Trade Organization on China scrap ban

Comments explain the impact of the proposed ban on U.S. and Canada.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, has submitted comments to the World Trade Organization in response to the July 18, 2017, notification from China on its intent to ban certain scrap imports.

SWANA’s comments explain what effect the proposed ban on certain categories of recyclables could have on municipal recycling in the United States and Canada, requests further clarification on the terms of the ban and offers technical assistance to the Chinese government on waste and recycling related matters.

“China’s proposed import ban is a very important issue for SWANA members in the United States and Canada, and is a critical one for many of the communities they serve,” says David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO. “We need to work with the Chinese government to develop a practical timeline for the proposed ban while improving bale quality for material exported to China and other foreign markets.”

SWANA lays out challenges the United States likely will face in adapting to the ban and discusses recycling on the state and local levels and the lack of domestic recycling infrastructure to process material currently being exported.

“Because single-stream recycling has become the prominent method of recycling in North America, it is imperative that the quality of the sorted recycled materials be as high as possible to avoid loads being rejected,” says Rich Allen, president of SWANA. “Many material recovery facilities are looking to upgrade their sorting systems to improve the quality of their bales along with better educating their residents on what can and more importantly cannot be recycled. The actual impacts of the Chinese waste ban are still being interpreted, but SWANA is keeping close tabs on the implications for our members and the industry.”

SWANA says it supports the concerns previously filed by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and Waste Management and suggests a clearly defined five-year transition period for the ban to allow time for customers and suppliers in the United States and the global marketplace to adapt to the policy change.

“We appreciate SWANA joining with ISRI and others to raise concerns about China’s import restrictions,” says Robin Weiner, CEO of ISRI. “We look forward to working with SWANA to support the Chinese government’s environmental protection goals.”

To view SWANA’s full comments concerning the China scrap ban, click here.


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