China’s Changing Import Policies and Potential Impacts on Recycling in the United States
Dawn McCormick, Director, Communications & Community Relations, Waste Management
In July of 2017, China notified the World Trade Organization of its intent to update its “Cataloge of Solid Wastes Forbidden to Import into China” by the end of 2017. While, Waste Management and our industry colleagues support the efforts of the Chinese government to improve environmental protection and standards within its domestic recycling infrastructure, access to global markets for recycled goods is essential to the sustainability of the international, national and regional recycling industry. In 2016, China accounted for 27% of all global scrap imports, with paper and plastics comprising the largest volumes of material received for recycling. For paper alone, countries across the globe depend on marketing to China’s mills to support and sustain their recycling programs. If China ends access to this market, there are insufficient end users in other countries to serve as alternate destinations. It will take several years to design, permit, finance and construct alternative capacity sufficient to manage these materials. In the meantime, recycling programs throughout the United States, and Florida, will falter and much of the recovered material currently recycled will instead be disposed in landfills or burned. There is great concern that the global recycling industry, and many municipal recycling programs, would be unable to recover from China’s proposed ban on importing recyclables. Without viable markets for recyclable materials in Florida, what were once valuable commodities would be disposed in our landfills or incinerators. This would greatly diminish public confidence and participation in recycling programs and undermine successful environmental programs across the state and nation. This session will seek to outline the serious challenges of the Chinese ban, communicate the latest information, and foster cooperation among industry leaders, government agencies, and municipal customers to address these challenges.
As Director of Communications for Waste Management Inc. of Florida, Dawn McCormick is responsible for external communications for Waste Management throughout Florida and is a member of the company’s statewide Government Relations team in Tallahassee, specializing in recycling industry issues. She is Chair of the Florida Recycling Partnership, Vice Chair of Keep Florida Beautiful, a board member of Sustainable Florida and a member of the NWRA Florida Chapter Recycling Task Force. She was a member of Leadership Florida’s Class XXXIV.