China to Implement Comprehensive Ban on Waste Imports by 2020

Over the last couple of years China has incrementally increased the stringency and inclusivity of its multilateral embargo on imported wastes with a view to realising a total ban on the import of overseas waste by 2020. The revised management catalogue of import wastes was released in August 2017 placing unprecedented restrictions on waste importation in China, much to the dismay of the international community. Long term over-reliance on China as a destination for waste products has meant the vast majority of international players have not developed their own technical capacities in waste management and recycling. China’s abrupt policy change has caught the international community by surprise, who are scrambling to find a solution facing the looming possibility of environmental chaos China’s ban could precipitate. Despite widespread international criticism, China’s waste catalogue went into effect as scheduled. Further adjustments were made twice in April and December of 2018 placing further constraints on the scope of permitted imported waste.

Chronology of catalogue reforms:

  • From Dec 31st, 2018: 16 kinds of solid waste added to the catalogue of banned imported solid waste
  • From Jul 1st, 2019: 8 kinds of solid waste to be adjusted from non-restrictive catalogue to restrictive catalogue of banned imported solid waste
  • From Dec 31st, 2019: 16 kinds of solid waste to be added into the catalogue of banned imported solid waste
  • After the implementation date of Dec 31st, 2019:

-7 items remain in the non-restrictive catalogue, most of which are precious metal scraps;

-13 items remain in the restrictive catalogue

Further information is available at:

MEE notice on adjusting the catalogue- Dec 21, 2018

Chemlinked, 14 January 2019 ;