China to further tighten solid waste imports in 2018-2020

Tonnes of waste paper to be shipped to mainland China are piled up at a dock in Hong Kong.
Tonnes of waste paper to be shipped to mainland China are piled up at a dock in Hong Kong.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will further tighten limits on solid waste imports such as paper, plastics, scrap steel and copper and crack down on smuggling, the environmental minister said on Tuesday as part of the government's "war on pollution".

China has tightened its list of solid waste imports three times in the past year and will cut permitted waste imports to 18 types by the end of 2019 from 66 in 2017.

"In the next step, China will carry out a three-year plan to fully implement the reformed solid waste imports regulation and ban foreign garbage from entering the country," said Li Ganjie, minister of Ecology and Environment, in the statement reviewed by the State Council.

The central government last year ordered Chinese customs to roll out long-term inspections on imported waste by checking every cargo.

The customs authority has initiated 134 crime probes involving 254,000 tonnes of smuggled scrap.

"China will increase the number of authenticated waste identification institutes from 3 to 20 to improve its capacity to identify illegal waste," Li said.

The country cut its waste imports quota by 35 per cent last year, according to the statement, and plans to further tighten approvals to see a "drastic decline" in imports volume year by year.

Solid waste imports in the first quarter this year fell 57 per cent with limited trash imports, including scrap metals and waste paper, down 64 per cent.