Effective today, China will implement new regulations banning select imported waste.
The so-called “National Sword” policy will ban 24 types of solid waste, including plastic, unsorted paper and crude textiles. According to China’s environment ministry, the new regulations are designed to prevent further damage to China’s environment and public health. Chinese officials have alluded to concerns over the contamination levels of the imported materials and to a general commitment to a greener environmental policy as motives for the policy shift.
Countries that export large amounts of solid waste products to China—such as the US, which exported $5.6 billion worth of waste to China last year—face the decision of processing more of the wastes themselves or shipping them elsewhere.
Industry leaders affected by the policy argue that the new regulations only matter to the extent to which they are enforced. Chinese environmental officials have argued that they will indeed enforce the policy and remain vigilant. Watch out for the extent to which the policy has a noticeable economic impact on the countries it targets. More concretely, look out for whether permits continue to be denied to solid waste importers, as they currently are.
Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.