China will end all imports of solid waste from next year, the environment ministry said on Tuesday. The ban rounds off years of tightening curbs on imported trash after spending decades as the world’s largest processor of recyclables, reported Caixin.
The move is “a landmark decision in the construction of China’s ecological civilization,” Ministry of Ecology and Environment spokesperson Liu Youbin said at a press conference. From 2021, the country will stop accepting and approving solid waste import applications from overseas, he said.
China began importing large quantities of plastics, paper, metals, textiles and other waste in the 1980s to plug shortages of raw materials. But environmental pollution and an unwanted reputation as a global dumping ground prompted the government to clamp down on the practice.
The policy, known as “National Sword,” fueled a more than 99% year-on-year decline in scrap plastic imports between 2017 and 2018, according to government statistics.