TG advises local councils following China’s crackdown on receiving foreign recycling

22 May 2018


There has been extensive media coverage in relation to China’s crackdown on taking ­foreign recycled waste, with the potential that it will cause council rates to rise for households across the nation, in some cases at more than double the rate of growth previously forecast.

China has greatly reduced the amount of foreign garbage/recycling it will accept from January 24 this year, under its “National Sword” policy aimed at reducing its pollution problem.  Australia has relied heavily on China handling much of its waste over the past 15 years, exporting more than 600,000 tonnes of recyclable trash to China last year alone.

Under the new policy, China has banned accepting 24 types of solid waste and will take only high-quality recyclable garbage that is almost “uncontaminated”.  This change means many waste contractors employed by Australian councils can no longer sell recycled rubbish to China, and instead are being forced to stockpile them.

Thomson Geer partner Fraser Bell is acting for seven local councils in relation to this issue (including East Waste) in South Australia. This is a national problem with Councils reaching out to State Governments for funding to cover the gap and provide a solution.