China to ban all imports of solid waste from beginning of 2021

A notice of a complete ban on solid waste imports was released jointly by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the General Administration of Customs. From 1 January 2021, the import licenses for solid waste will be no longer approved by the MEE. The dumping, stacking, and disposal of waste products from overseas on Chinese territory will also be banned. Moreover, the notification points to China’s goal of achieving what it calls “waste-free cities” and promoting the development of its renewable resource industry. In the upcoming years, the government aims at increasing the utilization level of the solid waste, improving solid waste collection centers, implementing the newly revised “Law of Solid Waste” and promoting the transformation of non-environmentally friendly enterprises in cities amongst others.

China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials in the 1980s and for years has been the world’s largest importer, despite its limited capacity in garbage disposal. Some companies illegally brought foreign waste into the country for profit, posing a threat to the environment and public health.

In late 2017 China banned the import of 24 types of solid waste, including unsorted paper, textiles, and vanadium slag. Since the country began to phase out waste imports in 2017, the volume of imported waste has fallen by 68 percent, from 42 million to 13 million metric tons in 2019. From January to November 2020, the volume was 7.2 million tons, which showed a further drop of solid waste imports to China. This newly introduced ban is a culmination of policies introduced since 2017 to phase out the import of solid waste.

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Photo Credit: GIZ / Florian Kopp

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Sino-German Environmental Partnership II

Project country
Political Partners
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People's Republic of China (MEE)
Implementation Partners
International Environmental Cooperation Office (IECO), MEE; China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)
09/2017 – 10/2021

Since 2013, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership has supported bilateral environmental policy dialogue through the exchange of experience and advice on various specialist topics. Thereby, the project enhances institutional and individual capacities through training, the exchange of personnel, and knowledge transfer, to best prepare China for its future as a transformed “Ecological Civilization” and its path towards a “Beautiful China”. The partnership is overseen by the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) of the People’s Republic of China. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is responsible for implementing the Sino-German Environmental Partnership, which is funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of BMU. In September 2017, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership entered into its second phase, which will continue until 2021. Through its activities, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership supports its Chinese project partners in transforming the existing environmental management system into a holistic environmental governance system which involves actors from science, industry and civil society. The planned activities lead to an intensification of the German-Chinese strategic environmental dialogue. An enhanced exchange such as this will continue to positively impact China’s proactive ownership of global environmental and climate change responsibilities. This will support the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.