China's new waste import policy (China National Sword) and recyclables
Until recently, China was a large importer of recyclable materials. At the start of January 2018, China began restrictions on the importation of recycled materials under its National Sword policy. China's New Waste and Recycling Policy includes strict contamination limits for recyclable materials.
China’s policy has impacted the global market for recyclable material, including recyclables from South Australia. However, South Australia is a leader in recycling and the amount of recovered materials exported is relatively small in comparison with the amount reprocessed locally, with 87% of all recovered material reported reprocessed within South Australia, 8% processed interstate and 5% exported overseas.
Together with Green Industries SA, the EPA is monitoring the implications of China's National Sword policy. Environment ministers from state, territory and Australian governments have responded with the statement from the 7th meeting of Environment Ministers which focuses on increasing resource recovery and use of recycled content in products. The EPA recognises that the initiatives proposed may not have immediate effect, and acknowledges that in the short term councils and industry may face some challenges in managing recyclables.
In responding to the challenges of China's National Sword Policy, the EPA will continue to ensure environmentally safe and sustainable management of recyclables. You can find out more via these links:
- Resource recovery requirements for waste under clause 11 continue to apply.
- Landfill bans of certain materials, including recyclables, under clause 12 continue to apply.
- A suite of tools to ensure that stockpiling is environmentally safe and does not unfairly distort the market.
If you have any questions about energy from waste, see the refuse derived fuel page and the discussion paper Enhancing resource recovery and discussing the place of energy recovery or contact us on (08) 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445 (free call for non-metropolitan callers) or email.