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China notifies WTO of plans to ban imports of certain wastes

China notifies WTO of plans to ban imports of certain wastes

Yesterday, China notified the World Trade Organization that it plans to stop receiving shipments of several different types of waste later this year, including mixed-paper and plastics.

In response to China’s WTO filing on July 18, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) issued a stern statement, warning of the “devastating impact” a ban would have, including the “loss of tens of thousands of jobs” and the “closure of many recycling businesses throughout the United States.” At the same time, China is undertaking a major inspection campaign of plastics recyclers operating inside its borders, which has already led to shrinking end-markets for plastic waste.

The ISRI said in its statement that it has already alerted the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce about its concerns related to a ban and has briefed American officials, who are meeting with Chinese representatives today as part of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.

The American media are reporting that today’s discussions between the U.S. and China got off to a tense start, and that both countries have cancelled their press conferences. 

China is a major player in the global recycling industry, accepting as much as 56% of all plastic waste imports, according to Reuters. A potential ban would create serious challenges in Canada and across the globe. At this point, it is unclear what the Government of Canada’s position is on this matter.