EcoWaste Coalition Urges the Government to Tighten Rules on Plastic Trash Imports

The looming ban on the importation of plastic trash in China provides a compelling reason for the Philippines to take strong measures that will prevent the banned imports from being diverted into our ports.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, urged concerned officials from the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry and Finance and the Bureau of Customs to take their cue from China and consider banning the entry of scrap plastics  to the Philippines. 

“We have a serious plastic waste problem that is spilling to the seas and oceans.  We need not exacerbate the situation any further by importing scrap plastics in the guise of recycling,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The illegally imported mixed garbage from Canada misrepresented as recyclable scrap plastics, which are still in our territory, offers a dire lesson in the perilous global waste trade,” she said.

A government-sponsored waste characterization study showed that 63.94% of the unlawful Canadian trash imports were residuals not suitable for recycling and should be properly disposed of.  

“Barring the importation of plastic garbage should form part of the government’s efforts to improve existing regulations to avoid a repeat of the Canadian garbage saga,” she said.

“Imposing an import ban on scrap plastics may even prompt our industries to seek ways to retrieve locally-generated plastic discards,” she added, “which can help in reducing the amount of plastics leaking to water bodies,” she added.

“Domestic industries requiring scrap plastics as production inputs should source their supplies locally,” she suggested.

Additionally, the group stressed the need for industries to embrace waste and pollution prevention strategies, including product redesign for the environment, toxics use reduction and zero waste resource management, to cut, if not eliminate, the generation of wastes and pollutants.

Last July 18, the Government of China notified the World Trade Organization that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics by the end of December this year “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.” 

According to the notification sent by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to the WTO, “large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials… pollut(ing) the environment seriously.”

“To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid waste list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted,” the notification said.

The import ban will apply to waste, parings and scrap of ethylene (HS Code: 3915100000), styrene (HS Code: 3915200000), vinyl chloride (HS Code: 3915300000), propylene (HS Code: 3915901000), and other plastics (HS Code: 3915909000).

Data released by International Scrap Recycling Industries in April 2017 showed that China imported over 7.3 million metric tons of scrap plastics in 2015, valued at $3.7 billion.

Reference: china-to-wto-scrap-plastic-imp orts-banned-by-year-end article/china-mixed-paper-plas tic-scrap-recycling-ban-2017/