Chinese customs action on waste imports anticipated

Chinese customs authorities look set to place a renewed focus on imported scrap materials, as part of an initiative dubbed ‘National Sword 2017’ – which has vowed to target ‘foreign garbage smuggling’.

The scope of the ‘National Sword’ initiative has yet to be fully detailed, but a translation of a news post on the Chinese Government’s website suggests that the focus will be on ‘industrial waste, e-waste, plastics and other solid waste smuggling illegal activities’.

The Chinese Government has outlined an initiative to target illegal shipments of ‘foreign garbage’

As well as scrap materials, the National Sword will also encompass agricultural materials, resource products including coal, and a crack-down on drug-related smuggling activities, according to the Chinese Government website.

The news post states: “The “national sword 2017” joint special action will focus on five areas of smuggling of the implementation of special combat and focus on remediation: First, crack down on “foreign garbage” smuggling, focusing on industrial waste, e-waste, Plastics and other solid waste smuggling illegal activities, and actively take the initiative to cooperate with environmental protection departments. The “foreign garbage” to intercept outside the country [sic], and earnestly safeguard the national ecological and environmental security and the health of the people.”


Commenting on the announcement, Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, said: “The focus seems to be at the blatantly illegal end of the market which we know still exists. As an Association it is something we wholly support. What we have said all along is that it is wrong for legitimate traders to be labelled as criminals when we know there are still exporters moving sub-standard material at a price significantly below the market level. That is what we have to stamp out because it tars the whole industry with the same brush.

“As China’s fibre requirements are increasingly being supplied domestically that means going forward they will be wanting less and less imported tonnage, so it is important that we position ourselves at the top when it comes to quality.”

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has also alerted its members to the potential for action on material imports in a bulletin sent last week.

In its bulletin, BIR said: “The ‘foreign waste’ of concern to the Chinese authorities includes the illegal activities of smuggling solid wastes such as industrial waste, electronic waste, household waste and plastic waste. The Chinese customs will further strengthen the cooperation with all localities, the relevant departments and industry associations.”

It added: “In relation to this issue, the Bureau of International Recycling had presented the activities of its member companies and national associations to the Chinese Authorities, the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) and other competent authorities from China such as the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), Ministry for the Environment Protection (MEP) at the end of last year supporting the even-handed implementation and enforcement of laws.”

In customs officials led an initiative aimed at reducing the amount of contaminated material loads entering Chinese ports – dubbed ‘Operation Green Fence’ (see story).

Scrap material entering Chinese ports is predominantly subject to the GB16487 environmental standard which dictates acceptable out-throw rates for imported material.


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