China’s “National Sword” Policy or Blue Skies 2018

WSRA is committed to monitoring and sharing as much information as possible in regards to China’s recent restrictions on imported recyclable materials and the resulting disruptions in recycling markets. These restrictions and changes in the markets having significant impacts on Washington state’s residential and commercial recycling programs, and our membership. We’ve compiled and will continue to update this page with relevant information on this situation.

WSRA Events In Response:

  • 2018 Annual Conference – Our 38th Annual Conference and Trade Show was held at Semiahmoo Resort, May 20-23. Our theme this year was “Navigating the Waves of Change” threading the changes the industry is seeing currently throughout our programming.  You can view presentations HERE
  • ContaminationFest WRED Event – In the wake of China’s National Sword, we explored the reality of recycling contamination, how bad it is, and potential solutions to clean our act up. You can find the presentations and resources HERE
  • WSRA Fall Policy Forum Wrap Up – Thank you to those that joined us for our Fall Policy Forum on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, to hear more about the impacts of the China National Sword policy on our state’s recycling infrastructure.  Here are the related speaker presentations from that event:

Washington State Department of Ecology: 

Statement from Ecology – “Ecology is expanding the work and scope of our commingled improvement recycling project. Working with partners from local governments, processers, collectors, exporters and end users we are strategizing on both the short and long term.

In Washington, recycling regulations are set by local governments. Ecology is advising local governments to be flexible as our state’s recycling system adapts to these new regulations.”

  • Impacts of export restrictions on recyclables
  • Improving commingled recycling in Washington
  • The WA State Dept. of Ecology has recently released a focus sheet of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for commingled residential recycling. This document is a product of the Commingled Education Workgroup and the result of collaboration between partners from the solid waste industry and local governments across Washington. Find the Focus Sheet (PDF) HERE. 
  • Ecology encourages residents and businesses to continue recycling whenever and whatever is possible. Recycling is still the right thing to do – it saves energy, resources, and reduces greenhouse gases. Just keep these best practices in mind:
    • Ensure your recyclables are clean and dry. Food residue is a contaminant. Water gets paper wet and decreases its value.
    • Pay attention to instructions from your local city, county, or recycling service. These instructions can change over time with changes in markets.
    • When in doubt, throw it out. If an item is not clearly listed as an accepted material for collection, err on the side of throwing it away. Non-recyclable items decrease the effectiveness o/f the system and can reduce the value of other recyclable materials.

Many materials are still being recycled. Aluminum cans, cardboard, plastic water and soda bottles and milk jugs (#1 and #2 bottles) are all in demand by domestic processors as recyclable commodities.

WSRA Member Responses & Resources:


Washington Refuse and Recycling Association (WRRA):

WRRA has been following the National Sword policy closely and has listed the following resources on their website.



Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (OR DEQ):



Washington Association of County Solid Waste Managers 



National Waste News Sources:












The Recycling Partnership:

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