Press-Release Wake-Up Call for Zero Waste


January 2, 2018

Wake-Up Call for Zero Waste

Canada, January 2, 2018 – The recent announcement on behalf of the Government of China that it intends to ban the import of certain grades of paper and plastic materials as scrap resources by the end of 2017, comes as a wake-up call for our waste and resource management sector here in North America that it is time to re-evaluate policies and practices and adjust to the changing markets.

Starting in January, China’s government is enacting a plastic scrap import ban. In 2018, 24 types of scrap imports will be banned in China including some types of plastic, mixed paper, waste wool, cotton and yarn. China accepted 51 percent of global plastic scrap imports in 2016.

The government of China, in recent years, has enacted policies to boost the country’s own recycling efforts and improve environmental efforts, as well as campaigns to reduce the import of illegal and low quality scrap containing large amounts of dirty waste and hazardous materials. With the Chinese government offering further dialogue around additional restrictions and increasing quality standards for imports, the trajectory China is moving towards is now evident, looking to receive non-polluting scraps that are ready to be used directly for production or re-manufacturing.

Zero Waste Canada strongly advises our local and national recycling entities to move away from playing the catch-up game that will simply allow loads “to move” or “get cleared” until the next set of restrictions are in place. Zero Waste Canada calls for national, provincial and municipal bodies to collaborate towards introducing more stringent policies ensuring quality controls at source in respect to real Zero Waste policies.

At the same time, Zero Waste Canada underscores how it is of paramount importance that the emphasis not only be on initial collection, but equally on the durability and frequency of use in addition to the actual value of recovery. It is in this light that Zero Waste Canada reiterates the importance of preserving the material value (thus economic and environmental value) of products and resources by pushing them further up the Zero Waste Hierarchy towards durable, reusable products and reprocessing as opposed to energy recovery and/or incineration. Following a very basic thermodynamic logic, the energy embodied in a product or material which is retained through reuse and recycling, is exponentially higher than the energy that may be extracted from that material through thermal treatments such as incineration. In an increasingly resource-scarce global framework, with a shrinking foreign export market, burning our resources simply does not represent an economically, ecologically nor socially responsible course of action. Although it may appear more convenient on the surface, Zero Waste Canada strongly urges these governing entities to refrain from resorting to energy recovery as a quick-fix solution to unfolding Chinese import policies.

Zero Waste Canada believes that a cornerstone of resource management is conservation. Ensuring a product can be reused as many times as possible prior to recycling in a local market in the long term will ultimately prove a key measure for resource independence, industrial stability and economic prosperity.

It is time for a widespread and coordinated effort to achieve a higher collection and reuse of quality products and recyclate at source, which translates into higher amounts of products and materials available to extract value from.

The announcement on behalf of the Government of China can be an opportunity for Canada to create solutions that move materials further up the Zero Waste Hierarchy where their value may be preserved.

Zero Waste Canada strongly advises all parties to consider these opportunities for systemic change at this crucial time period and is open for collaboration where called upon.


If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Connie Reichendorfer at 604-500-8376 or email at

Zero Waste Canada (ZWC) is a non-profit grassroots organization, dedicated to helping end the age of wasting through better design & education!

Zero Waste Canada works with individuals, businesses and communities across Canada to support continuous reuse of resources and promotes the elimination of landfills and waste-to-energy plants.

We also advocate at all levels of government for responsible resource management and policies, legislation and initiatives that eliminate waste.

Zero Waste Canada is the national Canadian affiliate to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) and follows the ZWIA guidelines of the Highest and Best Use for resources.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact


Connie Reichelsdorfer