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China intercepts mammoth waste quantities

July 20, 2018

The country’s Government has intercepted nearly one million tonnes of illegally imported waste, since the import ban came into effect in January.

Since the complete ban on imported waste at the beginning of this year, China has been “cracking down” on illegal imports, focusing particularly on smuggling networks, reports Resource. The new operation, ‘Sword at the Country’s Gate 2018’, follows 2017’s ‘National Sword’, and 2013’s ‘Operation Green Fence’ initiatives.

276 cases of waste smuggling have been exposed by the General Administration of Customs so far this year, with a total of 987,900 tonnes of waste involved; this represents an 89 percent increase on 2017. In just one incident, 200,000 tonnes of contraband plastic waste was intercepted in Shantou, a coastal city in Guangdong Province. The origin of the smuggled waste remains unclear.

In recent months, waste imports have risen in Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, with these countries struggling to cope with the sudden influx as a knock-on effect of the China ban. For instance, in the first four months of 2018, the United Kingdom’s total plastic waste export to Malaysia trebled, with exports to China dropping by 97 percent.

The changes have led to countries like Vietnam and Thailand tightening their own restrictions, in a bid to stop waste piling up in their ports whilst the countries’ infrastructure struggles.

China has committed ¥252 billion to tackling its waste issues between 2017 and 2020, including a memorandum of understanding with the European Union which will see it align its efforts towards a circular economy.

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