It has now been over a year since China introduced its National Sword policy to restrict the importation of kerbside recyclable materials from the rest of the world. The purpose of the policy was to increase the recovery of domestically generated recyclables within China and further boost its own manufacturing. The new rule is a 0.5% contamination rate in Australian exported material. Few Australian Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) were built for that level of purity.
With landfill levies in NSW at $140.20/t you would think that sorting of commercial waste would be more common than it is. Less than 5% of the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste in NSW is put through a processing plant to recover the valuable materials. In other words, less than 120,000t of the 5.5 MT that is generated is put through a processing plant. There are no dedicated C&I sorting facilities in other States (and landfill levies are lower).
The annual WasteMINZ Conference (5-8 November 2018) is wrapping up in Christchurch at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand and Mike was amongst the first to present on its second day. Mike outlined the challenges and impacts of China’s National Sword policy on local recycling markets and described the industry’s current and potential responses.
MRA’s Mike Ritchie presented yesterday at the International Solid Waste Association 2018 World Congress held at Kuala Lumpur. Mike’s presentation focused on China’s National Sword and its impact on Australia’s recycling.
MRA is actively engaging in the waste management debate and this week has seen two of our own being extensively quoted on national newspapers. The Financial Review has reported on MRA’s submission to the ACCC on the proposed merging of Bingo and DADI, quoting Mike Ritchie on the expected positive outcomes of the merger in terms of improved recovery rates for C&I waste in Sydney.
According to the 2016 National Waste Report, Commercial and Industrial waste (C&I) represents 20 MT of the 53 MT of waste generated in Australia (or 40% of generation). It also represents 34% of all waste sent to landfill (or 7.2MT out of 21MT) and achieves a 64% recovery rate compared to C&D (64%) and MSW (51%).
Not bad in the scheme of things.
The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) believes that China National Sword offers a once in a generation opportunity to ‘reset’ Australia’s recycling systems to achieve improved resource efficiency and enhanced economic outcomes. ACOR has summarised its approach under three key focus areas: investment, improvement and innovation.
By MRA Consulting Group Sustainability Victoria has opened a $1M Recycling Industry Transition Support (RITS) package, a component of the $13M support package for councils and the recycling industry announced on 23 February 2018 to support the industry following the implementation of China’s National Sword. The new grants aim to support Victoria’s resource recovery sector…
Waste Recycling is under threat from many directions and urgently requires practical and cost effective solutions. Actions are underway to better manage this international issue, but there are many local challenges.
The introduction of National Sword restrictions on the import of recyclables to China has permitted some commentators to call for recyclables to be used in Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities. Several have proposed EfW as a solution for plastic, paper and cardboard. While EfW is higher up the waste hierarchy and beneficial over landfill (it recovers the full energy value), I caution against this line of argument.