Pollution action plan detailed
China spelled out details of its initiative to ban imports of polluting garbage, issuing an action plan on Thursday that increases the limits on the types and amounts of the waste.
The central government has approved the action plan, to be completed by the end of 2019, that bans imports of foreign waste and improves the domestic recycling industry.
China will stop accepting shipments of various types of plastics, unsorted paper, textiles and vanadium slag by the end of this year. The list of banned items will likely grow longer as more types of solid waste are added, a State Council statement indicates.
“China will step up the fight against solid waste smuggling to keep foreign garbage from getting into the country,” it added.
On July 18, China notified the World Trade Organization of the ban on imports of 24 types of solid waste that will take effect by the end of this year.
Agencies involved in solidwaste imports and management, such as environmental protection bureaus and the General Administration of Customs, will take tough measures against illegal activities, such as smuggling and processing solid waste, the central government said. The focus will be on scrap plastic and paper, electronic waste and used textiles.
China also will revise management regulations on imported solid waste by the end of next year, which will further cut the number of ports that can accept shipments.
In addition to the restrictions on importing solid waste, China intends to boost the domestic recycling business. By 2020, the amount of solid waste recycled in China will increase to 350 million metric tons, from 246 million tons in 2015.
Since the 1980s, China has imported some solid waste — such as paper, plastic and some scrap metals — as raw materials, Guo Jing, director of international cooperation at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said last week.
But large amounts of dirty or hazardous waste have been mixed in with imported solid waste, boosting the profits for those involved.
This has contaminated the environment, but the ban will protect the environment as well as the public’s health, the ministry said on Thursday.
Many domestic companies process imported solid waste and discharge excessive and illegal pollutants, the ministry said, increasing the pressure for cleanup measures to clear away the resultant increased air, water and soil pollution.
In a monthlong inspection, which began on July 1, the ministry’s inspectors have found massive problems at processing companies. Of the 1,729 companies visited by Sunday, violations, including excessive discharges, were found at 1,037 of them.
Many other countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, also have restrictions on imported solid waste, the ministry said.