China’s “National Sword” policy, enacted in January 2018, banned the import of most plastics and other materials headed for that nation’s recycling processors, which had handled nearly half of the world’s recyclable waste for the past quarter century. In the year since, China’s plastics imports have plummeted by 99 percent, leading to a major global shift in where and how materials tossed in the recycling bin are being processed. Australia’s recycling industry is facing a crisis as the country struggles to handle the 1.3 million-ton stockpile of recyclable waste it had previously shipped to China.
With increasing awareness about plastic pollution, many countries are also taking steps to phase-out single-use plastics. Taiwan, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Canada (including microbeads products), France, Morocco, Rwanda, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh (the first country to ban thinner plastic bags in 2002) and South Korea are a few apart from India and China.