US paper and plastic recycling infrastructure is growing. Is China’s National Sword the reason?

By Katie Pyzyk
Waste Dive
August 22, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

In the five years since China disrupted the global flow of recyclable materials with its National Sword policy, the U.S. has seen investments in new or upgraded infrastructure worth hundreds of millions of tons in capacity. Yet debate continues over the extent to which that country’s scrap import policies influenced the domestic recycling infrastructure investment wave. …The policy, which officially took effect in 2018, banned the import of 24 scrap materials into China (including mixed paper and mixed plastics). …The Northeast Recycling Council noted that some expansions already had been planned prior to National Sword because of growing box demand as e-commerce sales surged — a trend that further accelerated during the pandemic — but also said China’s material bans spurred additional domestic capacity increases. NERC’s recently updated list cites 28 new recycled paper mill projects since 2018, 17 of which have been completed, for a total of 8 million tons per year of increased capacity for OCC and mixed paper.

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