China's Green Fence Initiative & U.S. Waste

Fri, 2013-08-16 08:46

The expansion of industrialization efforts in China is a direct result of enacted policies to promote strong regional development and facilitate international product yield. As a result of increased manufacturing, China is not only generating material waste domestically but also must contend with imported products that confound the growing pollution and environmental issues increasing in the country.

To combat this problem caused by industrialization, the Chinese government began restricting the amount of unwanted waste that enters the country with an initiative introduced earlier this year called “Green Fence.” China’s initiative, which has set strict requirements on the imports it accepts into its borders, has significantly decreased the allowable amount of plastic waste and other scrap material from further polluting the environment. One of the most important import policies, inspection of shipping containers, has facilitated a stronger commitment to waste management by diverting unwanted products that would otherwise increase waste yields.

The “Green Fence” initiative challenges American manufacturers to find alternative domestic solutions for the management of waste streams. The inability for Chinese manufacturers to utilize product scraps and the Chinese government aspiring to reduce pollution will likely have a positive impact on the future of U.S. waste management policies. In general, a reduction in unmitigated waste pollution through exporting efforts will likely stimulate U.S. domestic recycling facilities and waste management plants to appropriately ensure pollution control. Supporters of China’s new policy believe the changes will force large corporations and manufacturers to adopt more stringent sustainability measures that reduce the amount of waste they generate while increasing efficiency in packaging and supply chain strategies.

Although the stability of the “Green Fence” initiative at the helm of the Chinese government is uncertain, the current rejection of most imported waste will increase responsible waste management by multinational corporations as China enforces source control in its efforts to reduce pollution and environmental damage. The operational change required to offset the limitations in product disposal will require capital to improve domestic processing plants for waste management, but in the case of the United States, China’s “Green Fence” initiative can significantly improve domestic sustainability efforts. Whether this scenario occurs remains to be seen, but China’s policy is an important first step in re-evaluating waste management and pollution control strategies.

By Peter J. Bock & David Walker


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