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Mountains of U.S. recycling pile up as China restricts imports

January 02, 2018

USA Today has published a great article explaining the recent changes in the recycling supply chain as it is impacted by China's National Sword program:

Mountains of U.S. recycling pile up as China restricts imports

After you collect your cans, bottles and paper, then put them out by the curb, do you ever think about where everything goes after the truck picks things up? Largely, it goes to China.

Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables leave U.S. ports bound for China. China sends the U.S. toys, clothes and electronics; in return, some of America’s largest exports back are paper, plastic and aluminum.

But that equation is changing as of Jan. 1 — China is enforcing its new “National Sword” policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers, and sets a much tougher standard for contamination levels.

China notified the World Trade Organization about the ban in July, essentially saying the country would no longer act as the world’s trash dump. Currently, China consumes 55% of the world’s scrap paper and is a major destination for other recyclables.

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