China cracks down on illegal waste imports under second phase of Blue Sky 2018

China recycling inspections ports that solid waste
Chinese customs officials inspect waste materials

A second phase of China’s Blue Sky 2018 waste import inspection regime has seen customs officials targeting illegal waste.

From 29 March to 2 April, Chinese customs officials focused attention on 14 districts including major areas such as Tianjin, Shanghai and Nanjing. In particular, attention was on the 24 categories of waste that were banned from 1 January 2018 including almost all plastics, mixed paper and certain metals.


As a result of the additional inspection processes, 34 criminal cases were filed and 110,000 tonnes of illegal waste imports were seized. 52 people were arrested.

This more than doubles the 50,000 tonnes of material that was found to be illegally imported in the first phase up to 27 February.

A small number of qualified importers and manufacturers were found to have illegally sold waste import licenses to smaller operators and these were also prosecuted.

Following the second phase crackdown, China’s General Administration of Customs vowed to make even more effort to find illegal waste imports.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post has reported that Chinese imports of solid waste had fallen by almost half in March compared to a year ago. Just over 2 million tonnes of material were imported last month.

Of this, recovered paper was the main material with 1.42 million tonnes bought by Chinese buyers from around the world. This was down 54% on March 2017 though. However, this was an improvement on February’s 1.27 million tonnes.

Scrap copper imports were 220,000 tonnes in March, down almost 38% on the year before, while aluminium imports dropped by 5.6% to 180,000 tonnes when compared to March 2017.

For the entire first quarter, just 10,000 tonnes of waste plastics were imported, which would need to be post-manufacturing plastics as outlined by China’s current policy on plastic imports.

However, China has outlined plans to ban these plastics from being imported too.



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