Hong Kong is at risk of being swamped by waste paper even before Beijing’s ban on some highly polluting waste takes effect, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The State Council announced in July that China will stop importing 24 types of waste by the end of the year, including waste plastic and unsorted scrap paper, as part of an effort to reject “foreign garbage”.
But the Hong Kong Recycle Materials and Re-production Business General Association said mainland authorities have in fact stopped approving imports of waste paper from Hong Kong since the beginning of the month, according to media reports.
The situation could result in a crisis in Hong Kong, which produces about 2,500 metric tons of waste paper a day and exports most of it to the mainland.
The association is meeting on Thursday to confirm whether its members should stop recycling waste paper. It had warned earlier that it may be forced to do so from Monday.
It is understood that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has drawn up a contingency plan with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to help the industry cope with the crisis, including temporary storage for recycled waste paper.
Action Health, a non-profit organization, said it was asked by the EPD to help recycle waste paper as a short-term solution.
An investigation by Apple Daily found the Public Cargo Working Area by Gin Drinkers Bay in Kwai Chung, one of the main loading areas for waste paper, was stacked with hundreds of bunches of waste paper waiting to be shipped away.
The association said a few waste paper recyclers still have some export quota left from August but the remaining quota is expected to be used up after one to two rounds of exports, according to Apple Daily.
Meanwhile, people in the waste paper recycling industry are feeling the ripple effects.
A woman who collects waste paper for a living told HKEJ that the price of waste paper has fallen by 20 percent, from HK$1 per kilogram to 80 HK cents per kilogram.
A recycling shop operator told Apple Daily that the price of waste paper has gone down to HK$900 per metric ton from HK$1,200 per metric ton.
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