Chinese customs department using X-ray machines to check all waste containers


The Recycling Association has warned that high quality standards must be met, after it has emerged that the Chinese Custom’s authorities are now using x-ray machines to check every container entering the country.

As part of the Chinese National Sword programme, which is running from 1 March 2017 until 30 November 2017, customs officials have been told to focus on the quality of waste paper and plastics.


All containers are being checked using x-ray machines, and where these are not available, then the containers will be opened for examination. All containers will also be weighed to verify their weights.

The examinations will also be checking the level of non-fibre impurities and excessive moisture in bales of paper.

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin (pictured) said: “The National Sword programme shows the importance of our Quality First campaign, and we will be pushing the quality message strongly at our Quality First conference in London on 5 April.

“As I will say in my presentation at the conference, the UK competes with other countries around the world to provide China with fibre and plastics and we have to ensure that the material is not only legally compliant, but is the best available so that we will still have a market for material we cannot use in the UK.

“Our Quality First campaign is calling for the adoption of EN643 as the standard, which only allows for 1.5% out-throw. National Sword shows the need for this standard to be adopted.”

Cycle Link UK managing director Craig Robinson added: “We are warning our suppliers of these heightened inspections and letting them know that their containers will undergo an x-ray or visual inspection.

“But this should be a warning to the UK, that the Chinese are not prepared to accept substandard material. It isn’t just about them receiving material they don’t want, but it is also a public health issue when it comes to moisture.

“Chinese customs have told us that excessive moisture on paper bales can lead to bacterial and fungal problems and they do not want to be importing wet material into their country.”

The Quality First Conference is taking place on 5 April 2017 at BPP University Law School in London. More than 120 people are already attending, but places are still available.

More information about the conference is available at