National Sword Policy

National Sword Policy
Photo of plastic bottles
Australia processes approximately 50 per cent of its recycling onshore and, with the remaining 50 per cent, the majority is sent to China. National Sword Policy Australia processes approximately 50 per cent of its recycling onshore and, with the remaining 50 per cent, the majority is sent to China. Waste and Recycling; Resident

Photo of plastic bottles 

National Sword Policy – what is it?

Until January 2018 approximately 50 per cent of material collected for recycling in Australia was processed on-shore. The remaining 50 per cent was sent overseas for processing, mostly to China, India and South-East Asia.

In January 2018, China implemented a new policy called' the National Sword, which put restrictions on the kinds of recyclable material it will accept from overseas. It outlined that only material with a contamination rate of 0.5 per cent or less will be accepted. Following China's lead, other countries such as Malaysia and India are also in the process of putting an end to imports on international waste. 

Contamination of recyclable materials occurs when items that do not belong in the recycling bin are placed in that bin. For example, placing plastic bags, garbage bags and other plastic wraps in your recycling bin contaminates that entire collection. The recyclable material Australia sent to China had a contamination rate of six per cent.

While finding current recycling options for materials is difficult, in the long term these changes will stimulate the local recycling industry, including creating new jobs. 

What is CBCity doing?

The City of Canterbury Bankstown, along with councils all over Australia, are committed to working with industry and State and Federal Governments to come up with strategies to lower our national contamination rate.

We are working hard on our successful recycling initiatives, including:

  • Maintaining the kerbside service across the City and encouraging households to keep recycling;
  • Reducing contamination in recycling bins by providing information, education and behaviour-change programs. One of these initiatives is our Recycle Right program, where residents are rewarded for recycling correctly;​
  • Promoting the local recycling industry by: 
      • Trialling the use of , as a substitute for sand , in road and other construction projects;
      • Supporting the 2019 Local Government NSW Save Our Recycling campaign, which called on the state government to greatly increase investment in the local industry; and
      • Buying back compost made from green bins and giving it back to the community as Wheelie Good Compost. 
  • Implementing a new policy, titled Closing the Loop, which will increase the volume of recycled material used across Council, creating increased demand for recycled products;
  • Helping residents use less plastic, such as rolling out water refill stations in parks and town centres; and
  • Providing free collection services, with licensed providers, for problem materials such as chemicals and electronics.  ​

What can you do?

Residents hold a powerful position in helping reduce the contamination rate. This is simply by recycling right. For every household recycling bin that is filled correctly, we're one step closer to having cleaner recyclable material.

To find out which bin you should put your rubbish in, visit cb.city/householdwaste