China’s ‘Foreign Waste’ Ban and Its Impact on Waste in the UK

China’s ban on “foreign garbage”, first announced in 2017, is continuing to make waves throughout the rest of the world. The UK in particular has been affected by this change in legislation, meaning better alternatives to commercial waste removal are still being searched for by businesses and organisations.

Keep reading to learn about the effects of China’s “foreign waste” ban and how this affects your UK waste disposal.

What Caused the Ban to Happen?

At the World Trade Organisation in July 2017, China sent ripples through the waste disposal industry with the news that they would soon be placing a ban on 24 different kinds of “solid” waste being sent to them from (predominantly) Western countries. 

The likes of the UK and the US had been sending a large number of various waste materials, including plastic and paper, which were the end products of recycling programmes. This resulted in a mass appeal from waste disposal industry trade associations. Despite this, the Chinese government were adamant in enforcing these restrictions as the new policies had taken full effect by 2018. 

Yang laji 洋垃圾, or “foreign garbage”, became public enemy number one for some time in early 2017 within the People’s Republic of China. Much of this cultural stir can be traced to the premiering of a film at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival called “Plastic China”. 

The premise revolves around a 11-year-old girl who lives among imported plastic waste in a northern Chinese village. Viewers were left shocked to see first hand how plastic packaging that is imported from across the world is (or was) handled. It is shown to be washed in polluting chemical baths, with the leftover plastic disposed of by burning, spewing toxins into the air. 

This revelation brought with it hugely alarming risks to the local and national safety, alongside long-term damage to the planet.

What Exactly Did the Ban Set Out?

Initially, the ban outlawed 24 separate materials of recyclable content and other solid waste from being imported to China. Another change that was made through this legislation is that standards of “impurity levels” in imported waste were made much stricter. This strict policy meant that many countries struggled to comply with them at all and ultimately had to look to alternate solutions for waste disposal.

In January 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced that the initial ban which took full effect in early 2018 would be getting expanded further. Since the 2019 tightening of the legislation, Beijing has made 32 types of waste material for recycling and reuse in total banned from being imported into the city. Some examples of these banned, typically recyclable materials include post-consumer plastics such as shampoo or soda bottles.

What Have the Effects of the Ban Been?

China had a huge effect on the demand for many waste materials all around the world. However, after this ban was put into place, a large amount of the material which had been collected as “recycling” no longer has a place to go. 

As a result, global commodity prices of many of these recyclable materials fell drastically low and waste all around the planet ended up piling up. Where was the majority of this waste eventually sent? Landfill.

Trans-oceanic flows of recyclable waste materials were sent into disarray with this ban, however, this is not the only effect it has had. It has also sparked much conversation about our understanding of “recycling” – calling into question some ideas of what is recyclable waste and what is “rubbish” for landfill. 

China’s ban on ‘foreign garbage’ has thus had a rupturing effect. It has severed trans-oceanic flows of scrap on which many recycling programmes in wealthier nations relied upon. Alongside this, it has pulled behind the curtain of unethical, environmentally damaging “recycling” processes which have been going on in the 21st century. 

As a result of this, many commercial organisations are looking for safer, efficient, guaranteed means of disposing of their waste in an environmentally conscious way.

How Can the Waste Disposal Industry Help?

Commercial waste removal services have provided the perfect solution for organisations and individuals looking to dispose of their rubbish and recyclables. Domestic skip hire is one popular choice available to domestic clients whilst commercial skip hire is a great option for businesses. This waste disposal solution incorporates a careful picking and sorting process to ensure that the maximum amount of recyclable material will be discovered. This means that the minimum amount of your waste will not be taken to landfill.

Grab and tipper is another excellent service, particularly for those working within the construction industry. This is a great option for those who have a large amount of inactive waste which needs disposing of, as well as commercial waste removal on a smaller scale. Those who have a lot of machinery and action going on on-site may choose this solution for a higher payload and an efficient turnaround. 

Grab lorries are also available for commercial waste removal, alongside drivers who will self-load on the roadside or even on-site if necessary. Ultimately, a waste removal specialist will ensure that your commercial rubbish and recyclables are dealt with effectively and efficiently, regardless of what type of waste product you need disposing of. 

Environmentally Conscious Waste Disposal for You

Regardless of China’s foreign waste ban, commercial waste removal has never been so efficient than when working with Total Waste Services. Our commercial waste disposal specialists are renowned for their environmentally conscious approach and will ensure that your waste is handled in the right way every time.  

To understand more about how we can help you dispose of your waste in the right way then simply get in get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. 

Back to list