07/04/2020, 10.03
CHINA
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In 2021 Beijing will ban the import of solid waste in the name of 'ecological civilization'

by Wang Zhicheng

For decades the country has imported plastics, paper, metals, textiles and other waste to be used as a substitute for raw materials, or to destroy or bury them. In 2016, it absorbed over half of all solid waste in the world. China remains one of the most polluted countries on earth: at least half a million people die there every year from breathing problems related to air pollution.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - In the name of a new Chinese "ecological civilization", as of next year Beijing will end all imports of solid waste from other nations.

For decades, China has been the largest warehouse and transformer of recyclable materials. Beijing has started to import huge volumes of plastic, paper, metals, textiles and other waste to be used as a substitute for the raw materials it had a great need for, or to bury them somewhere. In 2016, the country absorbed over half of all solid waste in the world. Many of these materials came from developed countries.

This policy and economic operation has led to the pollution of many areas of the country, in addition to giving China the image of "world garbage dump".

In 2017-2018 the government started a campaign called "National Sword" to reduce the import of waste materials, starting with plastic. Thanks to an accurate application of the campaign, according to official statistics, the introduction of plastic waste material fell by 99% in a year.

Since then, the government has added other banned waste materials, including iron slag, stainless steel, timber.

This year, from January to May, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, 3.2 million tons of waste were imported, with a 45.3% reduction compared to the previous year.

For several years, the country has been trying to reduce the pollution rate of land, water and air. Given the large number of the population and being "the factory of the world", with very high industrial production, China has become one of the most polluted countries on earth. According to government statistics, at least half a million people die there every year from breathing problems related to air pollution. About 500 million people are without drinking water.

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