12 April 2019 by Will Date

China launches fresh wave of anti-waste smuggling action

China’s customs authority is extending its anti-waste smuggling campaign into 2019.


China Customs authority on a port inspection in 2018 (not related to waste checks). Picture: General Administration of Customs, China

This follows on from ten months of enforcement action over the last year, dubbed ‘Blue Sky 2018’ (see letsrecycle.com story) which saw a reported 481 cases of illegal waste activity uncovered by customs officials.

Details of the 2019 Blue Sky campaign were outlined by the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) today (12 April), with a focus on ‘control and prevention of illicit import of waste’.


GACC said that the campaign has so far focused on 11 Customs Districts in eight provinces, and has identified 22 smuggling operations, with 115 suspects having been detained. This includes the seizure of 338,100 tons of waste including plastics and slag.

Blue Sky 2019 will seek to ‘deepen’ law enforcement cooperation with foreign authorities, the Agency has said.

In a statement, GACC said: “On the basis of remarkable progress of the “Blue Sky 2018” campaign, the GACC is further advancing the “Blue Sky 2019” to control and prevent illicit imported waste from entry.”

Minister Ni Yuefeng directs the first round of the “Blue Sky 2019” campaign (Picture: GACC)

According to the Agency, actions to stem the flow of waste into China’s ports has led to a ‘significant reduction’ in criminal activity.

“Since this year (till March 20), the legally-imported solid waste has reached 3.02 million tons, down 37% year-on-year, while the investigated smuggling cases totalled 53 in number, down 43% year-on-year, with 67.9% thereof seized in the past few years.”

China’s action to crack down on illegal waste imports and the introduction of strict quality controls for material that can enter the country – dubbed National Sword – has also had far-reaching impacts on the global recovered materials market, in particular waste paper and plastics.


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