Berg Mill believes China’s waste import restrictions are destructive

Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) set the contamination threshold for most waste imports at 0.5 percent, a limit tantamount to an outright ban that jeopardizes the entire $5.2 billion recycling trade between the US and China. At Berg Mill Supply Co., we believe the Chinese government has failed to recognize, or has completely ignored, the potential consequences in store for the global recycling industry.


A country with the extensive ties and influence on global markets, such as China has, should have heeded the warnings expressed by numerous recycling businesses, governmental authorities, and associations, including the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), The Institute of Scrap Recycling (ISRI), and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), just to name a few.


In solidarity with the rest of the recycling industry, Berg Mill also believes Jinping’s government should at least delay implementation of the new waste policies to provide ample time to consider the restrictions’ possible effects and for the industry to adapt. Additionally, China ought to clarify their standards or, better yet, align their expectations with the established benchmarks set by the industry itself.


We understand China is moving forward with these import restrictions out of concern for their environment and their citizens’ health, but we believe enforcing these harsh and unrealistic limits will ultimately degrade what they claim to hold in high regard.


Already, businesses across North America have been impacted by China’s escalating import restrictions. In Oregon, valuable recyclables are being diverted to landfills, while reusable commodities are being burned in waste-to-energy facilities in Massachusetts. All across the US and Canada, recyclables are piling up in warehouses and parking lots.


Americans and Canadians aren’t just sitting back, hoping the MEP will change its mind. Since reports of the restrictions rippled throughout the industry and the issuance of import licenses plummeted in late 2017 and 2018, companies across North America have been working diligently to improve their operations, both to increase capacity and improve material quality.


Despite their hard work, however, public programs and private companies will still have difficulties meeting the unreasonable contamination thresholds set to go into full swing March 1st, 2018.


State and local governments must partner with private enterprises if the US is going to overcome China’s short-sightedness. The US needs public policies that support cleaner, more efficient recycling operations as well as consumer education programs that tout the importance of contaminant-free curbside bins.


Berg Mill Supply’s industry veterans are here to support both the private and public sectors during these difficult times. Please contact us. As we have done in the past, Berg Mill continues to work hard on creating solutions to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, including opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities.