- Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling
- US paper and plastic exports increase in first quarter 2021, while domestic demand for recovered fiber remains high.
- New international requirements for the export and import of plastic recyclables and waste will be effective on January 1, 2021.
- See CalRecycle’s Deputy Director of Policy Development give testimony at the Joint Hearing Assembly Select Committee On Waste Reduction And Recycling And Natural Resources.
- In November 2020, China confirms expanded import ban beginning January 1, 2020 that includes recovered fiber.
Recycling in California
The export of recyclable materials is a key component of California's recycling infrastructure. Changes to international policies restricting imports of recyclable materials, the declining global market for plastic and paper scrap, and the impending Basel Convention plastic waste amendments that will make exporting plastic scrap more challenging continue to pose a significant challenge to the solid waste and recycling industry, local governments, and Californians.
The COVID-19 pandemic had local and global impacts on the trade of recyclable materials, as the volume of recyclable material in the residential stream increased and the cleaner commercial recyclables stream temporarily dried up, temporarily increasing the value of some recyclables due to tightened supply markets. This shift in collection trends may last for years as businesses continue to recover from COVID-19 impacts.
International Policies Affecting Global Commodity Markets
Global policies are reshaping the flow of recyclable material around the world. See a timeline of major policies impact international trade of recyclables, including the Basel Convention and China’s solid waste import ban.
State Response and Resources
- CalRecycle Policy Director’s presentation and testimony:
- Joint Hearing Assembly Select Committee On Waste Reduction And Recycling And Natural Resources (November 18, 2020)
- Joint Hearing Natural Resources And Select Committee On Waste Reduction And Recycling (November 16, 2020)
- March 2019 Recycling Outreach Campaign (Information Item 1)
- November 2018 Workshop-Shifting Recycling Markets and Impacts on AB 939 Compliance for Jurisdictions
- June 2018 Recycling Globally Workshop presenter slides
- May 2018 letter to local jurisdictions from CalRecycle
- January 2018 letter to local enforcement agencies (LEA) from CalRecycle
- January 2018 letter to local jurisdictions from CalRecycle
- COVID-19 Resources and Updates – CalRecycle and government guidance and business assistance information.
Local Response and Resources
See more information about how California jurisdictions have responded to market changes.
Additional Information on International Recycling Markets
- United States Environmental Protection Agency – New international requirements for the export and import of plastic recyclables and waste
- Basel Convention – Questions and answers related to the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments
- OECD – Summary on the OECD Council Decision on plastic waste
- EPA Webinars (YouTube) – New International Requirements for Exports and Imports of Plastic Scrap (for state and local governments and for the regulated community)
Research and Publications
- OECD (For the G7 Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers): Improving Plastics Management: Trends, policy responses and the role of international co-operation and trade (September 2018)
- Science Advances: The Chinese import ban and its impact on global plastic waste trade (June 2018)
- Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives: Discarded–Communities of the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis
- From Green Fence to red alert: A China timeline, Resource Recycling
- Media’s Response to the Recycling Markets Crisis up-to-date list of media articles), California Refuse Recycling Council
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