The Impact of Recyclable Waste Trade Restrictions on Producer Recycling Activities
Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO)
3-2-2 Wakaba, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 261-8545, Japan
From the mid-1990s to 2017, China was a major importer of recyclable waste, including plastic waste, e-waste, wastepaper, and copper scrap. However, after experiencing pollution from the recycling process and improper disposal of imported waste, at the end of 2017, China prohibited the import of certain types of waste, including household plastic waste and waste fiber. Consequently, some types of recyclable waste were rerouted to Southeast Asia. However, after receiving contaminated recyclable waste imports, Southeast Asian countries also tightened import restrictions on recyclable waste. These restrictions hindered the international recycling initiatives of certain manufacturers, which were model cases of the voluntary application of extended producer responsibility. When producers initiate recycling programs, they must compete with other recyclers to secure waste supplies and compete with other producers of the same kind. To compete in the waste and product markets, they must minimize recycling cost. To do so, some producers established international recycling systems; however, trade restrictions in some countries are forcing them to stop these programs. This paper reviews the impact of recyclable waste trade restrictions on recycling activities and producer-organized international recycling systems and argues that there is a need for an appropriate trade policy to facilitate environmentally sound recycling.
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