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China Waste

In 2017 and 2018, the Chinese government implemented a series of waste import restrictions limiting or banning a variety of recyclable material that had previously been accepted for processing. The restriction of the flow of materials has created new challenges throughout the supply chain of scrap—residents, solid waste departments, material recovery facilities (MRFs), processors, end users and beyond. This webpage provides an overview of these challenges and provides updates on SWANA’s efforts to help support North American recycling through this transition.

NPR’s On Point — Global Recycling Is A Dumpster Fire. Literally

Listen to SWANA CEO & Executive Director David Biderman’s interview with Megan Chakrabarti on NPR’S On Point on March 14, 2019.

SWANA Resources: China Waste Import Restrictions Infographics

Download printable infographics in exchange for contact information.



A timeline of Chinese waste initiatives from 2013–2018.

How to Take Action


Action items for local governments and recycling managers.

Materials Affected


Most common recycling materials affected by the China waste import restrictions.

Recycling Infrastructure


U.S. Recycling: Building America’s infrastructure through sustainability.

SWANA In the News: China Waste Import Restrictions

In the News: China Waste Import Restrictions

SWANA Resources: China Waste Import Restrictions

Letters to State and Provincial Environmental Agency Leadership

Press Releases

SWANA Provides Update to States on Chinese Recycling Issue

Oct 11, 2017, 00:00 AM by MatrixGroup Admin

October 11, 2017

 Sara Swanson
Marketing Coordinator
1-800-GO-SWANA (467-9262)


SWANA Provides Update to States on Chinese Recycling Issue
Details Potential Impacts of China Waste Ban & Recommends Actions by State Agencies

Silver Spring, MD – The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has issued an update to state officials concerning the July 18, 2017 notification to the World Trade Organization from China on their intent to ban certain waste imports.

The update provides background to states on the Chinese waste ban, details how the ban could impact state and local recycling programs, and suggests action items states should consider to respond to increased market uncertainty.

“I feel very strongly that state agencies and others need to be made aware of the current status of the China recycling situation. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some significant volatility in pricing, discussions at a WTO committee meeting, and conversations between U.S. and Chinese officials,” said David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director & CEO. “It is important that those responsible for regulating recycling operations at the state level are aware of the current disruption in the global recycling market and remind local governments and industry partners to produce high quality material.”

In addition to providing education on the potential impacts of the Chinese waste ban, this update will help coordinate and streamline efforts made by state agencies in responding to changes in accepted materials, adjustments in export quality, and overall volatility in the global marketplace.

“SWANA members continue to be proud that the association is taking leadership positions on issues that support our mission of treating waste as a resource,” said Tim Flanagan, General Manager of Monterey Regional Waste Management District and SWANA Sustainable Materials Management Technical Division International Board Representative. “In a global economy, decisions made in Beijing can have an impact on local recycling programs throughout the United States and Canada, making it so important for all stakeholders to be up-to-date on how their programs could be impacted.”

SWANA submitted comments on the Chinese waste ban in late August, and Biderman has recently met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, while communicating regularly with federal agencies and other key stakeholders to ensure SWANA is abreast of this rapidly evolving situation.

To view SWANA’s full update to state agencies on the Chinese waste ban, click here.


About SWANA:

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 9,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 50 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications, and a large offering of technical training courses. For more information, visit




Waste Dive 50 State Survey

Connex boxes marked with China flag

A state-by-state breakdown of how recycling programs and markets have responded since National Sword.

View the Survey

From Green Fence to Red Alert: A China Timeline

Montage from fence to China flag

Timeline of events surrounding the Chinese import policies and how they continue to reshape materials recovery around the planet.

View Timeline

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