Recycling contracts in Australia are under threat and a crisis is looming after China implemented its National Sword Policy on January 1, 2018, which restricted the importation of 24 categories of solid waste and limits contamination of those materials to less than 0.5 per cent. The restrictions are already being felt in the sector, with stockpiling beginning and waste collectors across the country trying to find new markets to prevent a disruption of kerbside collection services.
China made it clear in July 2017 that it was implementing its National Sword Policy at the beginning of 2018, and the industry hasn’t sat on its hands, warning governments of the need to improve and enhance local processing. Essentially, the Chinese National Sword policy sends the message to western economies that they could not send the country their rubbish anymore. It quickly became a problem for exporting nations globally and impacted on policy.
Recycling contracts are at risk of defaulting or being cancelled and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has proposed preliminary solutions, including the renegotiation of contracts between local governments and recycling providers to improve risk sharing and lower contamination, increasing stockpiling allowances where environmentally safe, and making Commonwealth assistance available to open new export markets.
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