International Policies Impacting Markets for Recyclable Materials

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Recent Updates

Recycling in California

Recyclables Exported from California Ports 2018The export of recyclable materials is a key component of California’s recycling infrastructure. Changes to international policies restricting imports of recyclable materials, the declining global market for plastic and paper scrap, and the impending Basel Convention plastic waste amendments that will make exporting plastic scrap more challenging continue to pose a significant challenge to the solid waste and recycling industry, local governments, and Californians.

The COVID-19 pandemic had local and global impacts on the trade of recyclable materials, as the volume of recyclable material in the residential stream increased and the cleaner commercial recyclables stream temporarily dried up, temporarily increasing the value of some recyclables due to tightened supply markets. This shift in collection trends may last for years as businesses continue to recover from COVID-19 impacts.

2018 California Exports of Recyclable Material Report (PDF).

See tonnage data in table format.

International Policies Affecting Global Commodity Markets

Global policies are reshaping the flow of recyclable material around the world. See a timeline of major policies impact international trade of recyclables, including the Basel Convention and China’s solid waste import ban.

State Response and Resources

Local Response and Resources

See more information about how California jurisdictions have responded to market changes.

Additional Information on International Recycling Markets

Basel Convention

Research and Publications

Media Coverage

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For more information contact: Business Assistance,