Na­tion calls time on solid waste im­ports

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China no­ti­fied the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion on Tues­day it will ban the im­port of 24 dif­fer­ent types of solid waste ship­ments by the end of this year, as part of a cam­paign to tackle en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, Reuters re­ported.

The im­port ban, which will go into ef­fect at the end of 2017, in­cludes plas­tics, slag from steel­mak­ing, vana­dium slag, un­sorted scrap pa­per and dis­carded tex­tile ma­te­ri­als. Ac­cord­ing to China’s WTO fil­ing, the list has been ad­justed to pro­tect the coun­try’s en­vi­ron­ment and the pub­lic’s health.

“The move shows that the gov­ern­ment is step­ping up the fight against pol­lu­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion as decades of fast growth have caused the coun­try to be sad­dled with pol­luted air, and con­tam­i­nated soil and wa­ter,” said Xue Rong jiu, deputy di­rec­tor of the Bei­jing-based China So­ci­ety for World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion Stud­ies.

China has been im­port­ing large amounts of plas­tic waste as raw ma­te­ri­als for in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion. In 2016, China im­ported 7.3 mil­lion met­ric tons of plas­tic waste worth $3.7 bil­lion, ac­count­ing for more than half of global im­ports, ac­cord­ing to data from the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

He Jing­tong, a pro­fes­sor of trade at Nankai Univer­sity in Tian­jin, said China is send­ing a clear sig­nal to the WTO that the coun­try no longer wishes to im­port for­eign garbage and it is de­ter­mined to crack down on all types of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Even though China’s law on the con­trol of solid waste bans im­ports that can­not be used as raw ma­te­ri­als or re­cy­cled through harm­less means high prof­its, how­ever, have pushed many peo­ple and com­pa­nies to carry out smug­gling ac­tiv­i­ties, and of­ten part­ner with over­seas or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The central gov­ern­ment ap­proved a re­form plan in April to im­prove man­age­ment of solid waste im­ports to pro­tect en­vi­ron­men­tal se­cu­rity and pub­lic health.

The United States, Ja­pan, Italy, France and Ger­many were the top ex­porters of waste, ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished in 2016 by the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion.

The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion launched a spe­cial cam­paign to crack down on pol­lu­tion in im­ported waste pro­cess­ing this month.

The month-long cam­paign, which started on July 1, came as the coun­try saw se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion caused by a num­ber of small com­pa­nies pro­cess­ing im­ported waste, the min­istry said.

A to­tal of 420 in­spec­tors had been se­lected from 27 pro­vin­cial re­gions to form 60 teams to con­duct full-scale ex­am­i­na­tions. They will fo­cus on whether en­ter­prises have passed en­vi­ron­men­tal eval­u­a­tions, vi­o­lated rules in pol­lu­tant dis­charge, or il­le­gally trans­ferred waste im­ports, among other as­pects.

Ningbo, a coastal city in East China’s Zhe­jiang province, re­turned a to­tal of 80.23 mil­lion tons of for­eign garbage be­tween Jan­uary and June, while Shan­dong province re­turned 45 mil­lion tons of waste, in­clud­ing 8 mil­lion of med­i­cal waste.

XINHUA

Em­ploy­ees of Shen­zhen Cus­toms dis­play seized solid in­dus­trial waste which was smug­gled into China.

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