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China spells out illegal waste strategy

2000 china shanghai port shipping

Customs authorities in China have set out more details of their efforts to tackle illegal waste imports under operation National Sword.

A news release from General Administration of Customs (GAC) says: “The GAC, in collaboration with the environmental protection department, police and AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine – see below), will carry a joint action from 1 March-30 November with the aim of strengthening their supervision and severely cracking down on all illegal activities with regards to foreign waste.”

It adds that a task force from the four departments will make “strenuous efforts” in the supervision of imported solid waste from shipments, customs checks and the final destination of the material for recycling.

The GAC said the task force would:

  • Thoroughly supervise the enterprises concerned and the materials held in stock
  • Follow all leads, perform in-depth investigations towards the full chain of activities, and take immediate legal action against individuals or entities breaking the law
  • Identify high-risk goods and enterprises for priority checking, conduct follow-up checks of those enlisted as high-risk targets and penalise those convicted of not really doing recycling or supplying/possessing illegal goods

The task force will target the smuggling of foreign waste (industrial, electronics, household and plastic) and co-operate with international law enforcement channels to “strengthen the intelligence on foreign waste streams”.

A single, small incident could trigger much bigger issues for all of our shipments

David Chiao BIR

It promises to maintain “a high profile and unrelenting stance in the crackdown of foreign waste smuggling”.

The GAC is promising to issue regular news updates to deter smuggling of solid waste and “malpractice in foreign waste operations”.

Operation National Sword is the first siginficant initiative to tackle the quality of imports of secondary materials into China since the Operation Green Fence exercise in 2013. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material were rejected, leading to material being piled up at recycling sites across the world. It has left a lasting legacy of higher quality exports from the UK, Europe and the US.

David Chiao, president of the non-ferrous division of the Bureau of International Recycling, said some people were calling the development “Green Fence II”.

”Many smelters, galvanisers, paper mills, plastics manufacturers, tanneries et cetera have been forced to shut down or penalised for environmental violations,” he said.

”I would urge our members to ensure scrap shipments to China conform with the country’s environmental regulations. A single, small incident could trigger much bigger issues for all of our shipments.”

  • AQSIQ is a wide-ranging administrative government department in charge of national quality, commodity inspection, entry-exit health quarantine, animal and plant quarantine, import-export food safety, certification and accreditation

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