VWMA – National Sword media release

This post contains:


The VWMA has prepared this information for its members.

  1. An overview of Operation Green Fence and National Sword
  1. Operation Green Fence and National Sword

Many Australians might be surprised to learn that much of the recyclable materials collected and sorted in Australia is often exported to foreign markets for processing and value adding.

China, for many years, was the world’s largest importer of post-consumer recyclables however in recent years China has begun to tighten import standards in a policy known as Operation Green Fence (OGF – started in 2013). This policy focused on inspecting secondary commodities (which included Australia’s recyclable materials) in an effort to reduce and stop unwashed or contaminated material entering China.

National Sword (started in March 2017) is an expansion of the OGF policy. In July 2017, China notified world markets via the World Trade Organisation that it would no longer accept “foreign garbage”. It could be argued that National Sword is about disrupting world markets but also about China demanding and enforcing higher quality control on what is imported into the country.

This change in import requirements presents challenges but also opportunities for Victoria and the VWMA will be representing its members advocating for medium and long term solutions that result in sustainable outcomes for how Victoria manages waste and recycling. For more information on VWMA’s position please read: http://www.vta.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/VWMA-Release-22-Feb-National-Sword.pdf

For more information on OGF or National Sword read Kate O’Neill’s (Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, and author of Waste Trading Among Rich Nationals: Building a New Theory of Environmental Regulation MIT Press, 2000) article featured on: https://theconversation.com/will-chinas-crackdown-on-foreign-garbage-force-wealthy-countries-to-recycle-more-of-their-own-waste-81440

If you are a VWMA member and you would like to discuss this matter further please contact:

Mark Smith

Executive Officer

Victorian Waste Management Association – www.vwma.com.au

  1. 0403 875 436 | T. 03 9646 8590 | E. mark@vta.com.au

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