November 22, 2017: EERA has sent a letter to EU Commissioners Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Mr. Karmenu Vella: Chinese National Sword Program is an opportunity for Circular Economy
Dear Mrs. Bieńkowska and Mr. Vella,
Recently our industry was informed that the Chinese Government notified the World Trade
Organisation – WTO (Notification G/TBT/N/CHN/1211) concerning the import restrictions by
the end of 2017 of 4 classes, 24 kinds of solid wastes, including plastics waste from living
sources, vanadium slag, unsorted waste paper and waste textile materials. The new policy was
preceded by the campaign named ‘National Sword’, which started March of this year.
National Sword is challenging the EU recycling industry, which consist of small and medium
enterprises as well as large companies and employs > 100.000 persons in Europe. The abrupt
change in market conditions, which now happens for the second time1 in the last 4 years,
clearly demonstrates that Europe needs to implement a robust and sustainable waste market.
Rather than trying to oppose the decision of the Chinese government, the EU with urgency
should take measures to improve the regulated waste markets without imposing new
legislation. Taking as guidance Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment – WEEE, which
results and outlooks are deplorable, we propose the following concrete measures:
1) Fix the loopholes in the take-back of electronics. Despite legislation for more than a decade
the overall collection rate in the EU is some 30-35 % of what has been put on the market. It
is foreseen that only half of the Member States will meet the 45 % in 2017, which is legally
required. Follow the money of EPR systems and improve accountability of Member States.
1 In 2013 the Chinese Government initiated the Green Fence policy, which at that time had a
significant economic effect on Europe’s waste industry.
2) Make sure that BAT practices are implemented because they result in more and better
quality recycled materials including critical raw materials and in a structural reduction of
CO2 emissions. The BAT practices are published in European Norms - EN 50625 series,
which was mandated by the EC. Make them mandatory, because we already can see that
voluntary compliance does create the level playing for the industry, which is absolutely
3) Stop export outside Europe if BAT technology is not proven for the recycling facilities in the
importing countries. How many more documentaries do we need, to proof that EU
exported WEEE is creating devastating health and environmental conditions in developing
4) Stop changing goal posts by changing legal requirements for recycled materials, and
continuously adding of or changing thresholds values for certain substances. The recycling
industry is able to remove the hazardous substances, but there must be a realistic phasing
out strategy for legacy substances.
5) Stop creating artificial barriers for shipment of waste, intermediate and recycled materials
between Member States within the EU. Create fast track notifications which fit with the
pace of the industry.
6) Stimulate the demand and supply site of secondary raw materials by promoting and
implementing green public procurement of electronic products containing recycled
materials, by the EC and Member States.
7) Create financial incentives for investments in the recycling industry and for the application
of recycled materials. Why is it for instance necessary to pay for a second time value added
taxes on certain raw materials, that are recycled?
In our view all these measures can be taken without any new legislation and contribute to a
Circular Economy . It is a matter of having a moral compass, focus, setting priorities and
endurance. In case you would like to know more about our insights please do not hesitate to
We are looking forward to your reactions,
Norbert Zonneveld, executive secretary EERA