On July 1, the People’s Republic of China will begin limiting imports of scrap aluminum and steel, ostensibly in an effort at increasing domestic recycling rates. In a statement released by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, scrap aluminum and steel will be reclassified, effective in July, from the unrestricted import list of solid waste products usable as raw materials to a restricted list of imports.

Per the ministry, other departments are currently determining new standards for recycled aluminum and copper that would be classified as regular goods and not solid waste, thus not subject to the import restriction in question.

Beijing has been steadily ratcheting up restrictions on imported solid waste, and the numbers reflect it. Imported solid waste fell by almost half this year through mid-November from last year’s totals. The government’s move to restrict scrap aluminum and steel imports is part of a wider initiative launched two years ago to boost environmental responsibility among economic players by providing greater incentives for recycling domestic scrap material.

Internal reports indicate that increasing rates of solid waste production are beginning to cause concern among provincial and national government bodies. As China’s construction sector heats up, so too does its waste production. For the construction sector alone, per-annum waste is projected to total 2.6 billion tons by 2020.

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