In a swift, abrupt change of policy that month, Beijing announced it would ban 24 types of imported waste by the end of the year.
Questions are being raised as to what the future holds for the city’s embattled and fragmented recycling industry, hit in recent years by falling prices, high costs and a lack of space and capacity.
The waste plastic industry will bear most of the brunt as it will have to sort scrap plastics and turn them into clean pellets that can be exported to China as industrial raw material.
The problem is not about money, but deep-rooted issues such as the lack of incentives for the public to recycle
There is no economic incentive for frontline recyclers to collect any more,”
In 2015 the mainland imported 46 million tonnes of waste – including roughly half of the world’s imports of scrap paper, plastics and copper – for reprocessing. In the first eight months of 2016, Hong Kong was the largest exporter of used plastic to the mainland, accounting for 26.7 per cent of the total.
Hong Kong becomes a dumping ground for US e-waste, research finds