BEIJING — China’s imports of solid waste continued to decline in the first two months of the year as the country tightened enforcement of a ban on solid waste imports.
Imports of plastic, paper, and metal waste totaled 2.65 million tons for Jan-Feb, down 22.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
In February alone, solid waste imports reached 918,000 tons, sharply down from 1.74 million tons in January and 1.71 million tons registered in February of 2018.
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 weak capacity in garbage disposal. Some companies illegally bring foreign waste into the country for profit, posing a threat to the environment and public health.
Given rising public awareness of environmental protection and China’s green development drive, the government decided to phase out and halt such imports by the end of 2019, except for those containing resources that are not substitutable.
The government banned imports of 24 types of solid waste, including plastics and paper, and has imposed tough quality restrictions on other recyclable materials.