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.
-  L. Zheng et al., “Blood Lead and Cadmium Levels and Relevant Factors among Children from an E-waste Recycling Town in China,” Environmental Research, Vol.108, Issue 1, pp. 15-20, 2008.
-  A. Yoshida, “China: The World’s Largest Recyclable Waste Importer,” M. Kojima (Ed.), “International Trade of Recyclable Resources in Asia,” Institute of Developing Economies, JTERO, pp. 33-52, 2005.
-  Q. Tan, J. Li, and C. Bojkovac, “Responding to China’s Waste Import Ban through a New Innovative, Cooperative Mechanism,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol.52, pp. 7595-7597, 2018.
-  Xinhua News Agency, “Prohibit the Import of Foreign Garbage and Raise the Level of Solid Waste Recycling,” July 28, 2017 (in Chinese). http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/2017-07/28/content_5213923.htm [Accessed March 20, 2020]
-  A. L. Brooks, S. Want, and J. R. Jambeck, “The Chinese Import Ban and its Impact on Global Plastic Waste Trade,” Science Advances, Vol.4, No.6, eaat0131, 2018.
-  GRID-Arendal, “Controlling Transboundary Trade in Plastic Waste,” 2019.
-  C. Wang, L. Zhao, M. K. Lim, W.-Q. Chen, and J. W. Sutherland, “Structure of the Global Plastic Waste Trade Network and the Impact of China’s Import Ban,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol.153, 104591, 2020.
-  M. Kojima, “Transboundary Movement of Recyclable Resources: Current Management System and Practices in Asia-Pacific,” Background Paper for Ninth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific, 2019. https://www.uncrd.or.jp/content/documents/7574Final-PS-3-Background%20paper-2.pdf [Accessed March 9, 2020]
-  Greenpeace Malaysia, “Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis,” 2019.
-  Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, “Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis,” 2019.
-  Y. Morita and S. Hayashi, “Proposals to Strengthen Japan’s Domestic Measures and Regional Cooperation on Stable and Environmentally Sound Plastic Scrap Recycling: Response to China’s Ban on Imports of Plastic Scrap,” IGES Policy Brief, No.41, 2018.
-  National Audit Office, “The Packaging Recycling Obligations,” 2018. https://www.nao.org.uk/report/the-packaging-recycling-obligations/ [Accessed February 28, 2020]
-  Y. Kishita, E. Kunii, S. Fukushige, Y. Umeda, and J. Fujimoto, “Scenario Analysis of Global Resource Circulation with Traceability Index Targeting Sustainable Manufacturing,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.3, No.1, pp. 3-10, 2009.
-  T. Watanabe, “Parts Reuse Strategy of Fuji Xerox Office Products,” J. of the Society of Mechanical Engineers, Vol.109, No.1055, pp. 31-34, 2006 (in Japanese).
-  Fuji Xerox, “Resource Recycling System of Fuji Xerox: Efforts on Product Recycling” 2017. https://www.fujixerox.co.jp/company/eco/cycle/communication/pdf/brochure_e.pdf [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  Basel Action Network, “Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia,” 2002.
-  I. M. S. K. Ilankoon, Y. Ghorbani, M. N. Chong, G. Herath, T. Moyo, and J. Petersen, “E-waste in International Context – A Review of Trade Flows, Regulations, Hazards, Waste Management Strategies and Technologies for Value Recovery,” Waste Management, Vol.82, pp. 258-275, 2018.
-  Fuji Xerox, “Manufacturer-Led International Resource Recycling Network Up and Running: New Response to Global Environment Based on CSR,” December 7, 2004. https://www.fujixerox.co.jp/eng/company/headline/2004/1207_recycling.html [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  T. Watanabe, “Fuji Xerox International Resource Recycling System Fuji Xerox International Resource Recycling System in Asia in Asia-pacific region,” ppt file presented at the Asia 3R Conf. hosted by Ministry of Environment Japan, held in Tokyo, Japan in 2006. https://www.env.go.jp/recycle/3r/initiative/en/results/pdf/vol3/02_03-1/11.pdf [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  X. Chi, M. Streicher-Porte, M. Y. L. Wang, and M. A. Reuter, “Informal Electronic Waste Recycling: A Sector Review with Special Focus on China,” Waste Management, Vol.31, pp. 731-742.
-  Fuji Xerox, “Zero-Landfill Goal Achieved at Recycling Facility in Thailand: Recycled 21,200 tons of Resources and Reached 99.8% of Recycling Rate,” July 6, 2010. https://www.fujixerox.com/eng/company/news/release/2010/0706_fxem [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  Fuji Xerox, “Fuji Xerox Eco-Manufacturing Obtains ISO14001 Certification.” https://www.fujixerox.co.jp/eng/company/headline/2005/1006_manufacturing.html [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  Fuji Xerox, “Fuji Xerox Integrated Recycling System – Progress Report 2017,” 2017. https://www.fujixerox.co.jp/company/eco/cycle/communication/pdf/report_e.pdf [Accessed March 7, 2020]
-  Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, “Award on Resource Circulation Technology and System: FY 2007,” (in Japanese). https://www.meti.go.jp/policy/recycle/main/3r_policy/prize/tech_19.html [Accessed March 17, 2020]
-  Fuji Xerox, “Fuji Xerox Hong Kong Wins Gold Award at 2011 Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence,” June 7, 2012. https://www.fujixerox.com/eng/company/news/release/2012/000693 [Accessed March 17, 2020]
-  Nation, “Police raid Chachoengsao plant in crackdown on foreign e-waste disposal,” May 22, 2018. https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30346025 [Accessed September 1, 2019]
-  Bangkok Post, “Five Importers of E-waste Lose Licenses,” June 20, 2018.
-  Nation, “Govt to ban import of electronic, plastic wastes,” August 16, 2018.
-  Y. Sugai, “PET Bottle Recycle Fiber, ‘Teijin EcoPET Promotion,’” Sen’i Gakkaishi, Vol.55, No.6, pp. 201-204, 1999 (in Japanese).
-  G. Sandin and G. M. Peters, “Environmental Impact of Textile Reuse and Recycling – A Review,” J. of Cleaner Production, Vol.184, pp. 353-365, 2018.
-  Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” 2017.
-  S. Anders, D. Watson, S. Roos, C. Askham, and P. B. Poulesen, “Gaining Benefits from Discarded Textiles: LCA of Different Treatment Pathways,” Nordic Council of Ministers, 2016.
-  Teijin, CSR Report, 2011.
-  Y. Ikeda, “Polyester Seihin no Shigen Junkan Recycle: Shigen Junkan Shakai no Keisei wo Mezashite (Resource Recycling of Polyester Products (Toward Sound Material Cycle Society),” J. of the Japan Research Association for Textile End-Uses, Vol.46, No.4, pp. 14-22, 2005 (in Japanese).
-  Patagonia, “Patagonia’s Common Thread Garment Recycling Program: A Detailed Analysis,” 2006. https://www.patagonia.com/on/demandware.static/Sites-patagonia-us-Site/Library-Sites-PatagoniaShared/en_US/PDF-US/common_threads_whitepaper.pdf [Accessed March 11, 2020]
-  OECD, “Extended Producer Responsibility: A Guidance Manual Fore Governments,” 2001.
-  Bangkok Post, “Customs to bar entry of 12,000 tonnes of imported e-waste,” July 24, 2018.
-  http://www.basel.int/Countries/StatusofRatifications/BanAmendment/tabid/1344/Default.aspx [Accessed March 20, 2020]
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationa License.