The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) reissued their Joint Advisory on Designing Contracts for Processing of Municipal Recyclables, which is now updated to include a preface about China’s waste import restrictions and how they have affected the market for recyclable materials.

According to the report, Chinese mills and processors have been the largest buyers of recyclables in the world. In April, China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) announced an import ban on 32 recyclable materials, citing efforts to prevent environmental pollution. 16 materials will be banned by the end of this year, the rest by the end of 2019.

The reissued document reflects the need for North American recycling programs and providers to re-examine their current practices and investigate new processing systems, implement contamination reduction methods, and revise program guidelines for acceptable materials. SWANA and NWRA have partnered on many initiatives to respond to the current market disruption in the wake of China’s waste import restrictions, including advocacy for recycling funding in Congress’ Infrastructure Bill and meetings with key organizations and non-profits to identify industry opportunities.

“We think it is important that recyclers address overall program sustainability and not just blame China’s import restrictions for our current challenges,” says Sara Bixby, SWANA Deputy Executive Director. “Anything that we can do in the United States and Canada to reduce contamination and improve our partnerships will also help develop and support recycling markets in North America. That makes all of our programs stronger.”

To guide solid waste and recycling professionals on protocols and standards regarding contracting for the processing of municipal recyclables, the updated report is available for public download to ensure information on best practices is available throughout the industry.