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WTO wants clarity on Chinese ban on solid waste

China has banned imports of solid waste, which the WTO has objected to. The US, European Union, Australia, Canada and South Korea have sought more information on which types of materials would be affected, with some noting that this issue is of great interest to their business sectors.

There is apprehension the ban would curb global textile recycling progress, prevent China’s manufacturing sector from accessing these recyclable materials and minimize other eco-friendly opportunities for recycling.

In July, China had notified the WTO that it would be imposing a ban on import of certain kinds of solid waste by the end of 2017 as a pollution control measure, similar to recent inspections and shut downs of factories across sectors including textile dyeing and finishing plants, in a wide-reaching effort for easing China’s pollution problems.

For recycled commodities such as recovered paper and fiber, and plastic and copper scrap, China accounts for more than half of the world’s total imports and these are very clearly valuable scrap commodities. The US wants to know if China is planning to extend the measure to cover ferrous and non-ferrous scrap. Canada wants to know the specific products China intends to ban as part of the catalog of solid waste that will fall under new restrictions.