China launches fresh campaign against garbage smuggling

File photo showing a Chinese labourer sorting out plastic bottles in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirts of Beijing. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China launched a fresh crackdown on Tuesday (May 22) against rubbish smuggling from overseas in Beijing's latest move to curtail the inflow of foreign garbage and strengthen its "war on pollution".

China's customs administration announced the effort on its Weibo social media feed but provided no details other than to say the campaign would be huge.

The effort comes at a time when authorities around China have been intensifying actions against illegal garbage imports as part of nationwide plans to clean up the environment and move the economy up the global value chain.

China told the World Trade Organisation last year (2017) that it would stop accepting imports of 24 types of foreign waste by the end of the year and that it would phase out shipments of other waste products, including those readily available from domestic sources, by the end of 2019.

The move has thrown the global recycling industry into turmoil and left domestic recyclers to cope with raw material shortages.

The General Administration of Customs said in early April that it had seized 110,000 tonnes of smuggled solid waste this year and arrested 52 people.

China arrested 259 people for smuggling foreign waste last year, with some criminal gangs accused of taking containers of electronic waste from Hong Kong to North Korea and then smuggling them across the border into China in order to circumvent restrictions.

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