Au­thor­i­ties de­tain hun­dreds in year­long crack­down

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COVER - By ZHENG JINRAN

This year, cus­toms au­thor­i­ties and the min­istries of en­vi­ron­ment and com­merce launched a crack­down which saw hun­dreds of sus­pects de­tained for smug­gling solid waste into the coun­try, the gov­ern­ment said.

On Dec 19, cus­toms of­fi­cers in 13 prov­inces and re­gions, in­clud­ing Guang­dong, Zhe­jiang and Jiangsu — ma­jor cen­ters for the pro­cess­ing of im­ported re­cy­clables — de­tained 127 sus­pects from 47 gangs in the largest op­er­a­tion of the year, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

More than 323,000 met­ric tons of what was re­ferred to as “for­eign garbage”, in­clud­ing plas­tic scraps and waste min­eral residue, had been seized by 10 am on Dec 19, it added.

In re­cent decades, China has im­ported re­cy­clable waste to process and re­use as raw ma­te­ri­als for the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, but the phrase “for­eign garbage” refers to solid waste on a list of pro­hib­ited prod­ucts smug­gled into China, along with waste that was im­ported with­out per­mis­sion.

The im­por­ta­tion and pro­cess­ing of the ma­te­rial can cause se­vere pol­lu­tion that may be haz­ardous to hu­man health, re­sult­ing in the cen­tral gov­ern­ment pri­or­i­tiz­ing its elim­i­na­tion.

Since 2013, cus­toms of­fi­cers na­tion­wide have in­ves­ti­gated about 400 cases of solid waste smug­gling and de­tained more than 800 sus­pects, ac­cord­ing to a re­port sub­mit­ted to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, the na­tion’s top leg­isla­tive body, last month.

This year, cus­toms na­tion­wide have de­tained 421 sus­pects from 298 gangs ac­cused of smug­gling solid waste, equal to half the num­ber ap­pre­hended in the past five years.

In ad­di­tion, 1,700 in­spec­tors from the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion con­ducted a month-long in­spec­tion of re­cy­cling com­pa­nies dur­ing July.

Sixty per­cent of the 1,792 re­cy­cling com­pa­nies in the coun­try were found to have vi­o­lated rel­e­vant laws and reg­u­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to Li Gan­jie, min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

Most of the vi­o­la­tions were re­lated to the ex­ces­sive dis­charge of pol­lu­tants, fail­ure to ad­here to re­stric­tions on the im­por­ta­tion of re­cy­clables and im­proper treat­ment of solid waste, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the min­istry.

As a re­sult, the min­istry and lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment au­thor­i­ties pun­ished 940 com­pa­nies, de­tained man­agers at 32 of them and closed down 94 busi­nesses.

“Be­tween 2018 and 2020, we will main­tain the strict su­per­vi­sion of do­mes­tic re­cy­cling plants that process im­ported solid waste and con­duct spe­cial in­spec­tions an­nu­ally to en­sure com­pa­nies obey the law,” Li said.

Be­fore the end of the year, min­istry of­fi­cials will again visit the com­pa­nies that were in­spected, and im­pose heavy pun­ish­ments on any that have failed to fol­low the cor­rect pol­lu­tion-re­duc­tion mea­sures, he added.

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