15:26 GMT18 January 2021
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - China will introduce a total ban on the import of any solid waste starting at the beginning of 2021, the Chinese Ecology and Environment Ministry said on Friday.

    "Starting January 1, 2021, any import of solid wastes will be stopped," the statement, published on the ministry's site, said, adding that China will also prohibit the storage and recycling of foreign solid waste on its territory.

    The ministry said that the ban would be introduced in accordance with the 1995 Solid Waste Environmental Pollution Prevention and Control Law, which was revised by China on April 29 and came into force in early September.

    According to the statement, breach of the law may entail criminal liability, and illegally imported foreign solid waste will be returned to its shipper.

    In the 1990s, China increasingly needed raw material for industrial development, forcing the country to rely on the import of solid waste, such as plastic. Since 1992, the country has received 196 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. In late 2017, China began to ban the import of some types of solid waste to improve the environmental situation.

    This has greatly affected the global recycling industry, since China had been the largest world importer of solid waste. The Chinese decision to ban the import of solid waste has also influenced other Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, which have faced increased imports of solid waste from the United State and Europe.

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