recycling crisis & national sword

Since the 1980s, China has been the primary destination for waste from Western countries, including Australia, the US and UK. Along with dealing with its own waste, China has been the largest importer of recyclable materials on the planet. In fact it has been taking in more than 30 million metric tonnes of waste from all over the world, putting our problems out of sight, up till now.

China recently banned foreign waste imports, including waste paper, textiles, plastics and certain types of metals under a policy known as “National Sword”.

So what does this mean for the way we recycle? And what has the ban revealed about Australia’s position on renewables and recycling?

Reporting for Panorama at SYN Media, I investigated.