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Effort to stop smuggling of imported "foreign garbage" gets new emphasis
Flexing its muscle against pollution, China has imposed tougher controls on solid waste imports.
More than 800 smuggling suspects have been detained since 2013, according to a report submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress, the nation"s top legislative body, and read on Wednesday.
From June to August, it sent five teams - one of which was led by Zhang Dejiang, the Standing Committee"s chairman - to inspect the state of law enforcement in 10 provincial regions and push governments to be more aggressive against illegal solid waste. The report was based on those inspections.
Customs officers nationwide have investigated around 400 cases of solid waste smuggling since 2013. A total of 1.7 million metric tons of the waste has been found and 800 suspects have been detained, according to the report.
It elaborated China"s increasingly tough efforts to combat importation of the waste - sometimes referred to as "foreign garbage" - Zhang said while delivering the report.
For example, more than 350 police officers from Shenzhen Customs in Guangdong province found 15,000 tons of smuggled plastic waste on Sept 21, a large part of which was destined to become dining ware, according to Guangdong Daily. Twenty suspects were detained.
In an inspection conducted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in July, 1,792 processors of imported waste were checked, and 60 percent were found to be in violation of pollution standards.
Imported solid waste was found contaminating the environment and creating a high risk of harm to people"s health, the ministry added in a briefing about an action plan to control solid waste imports.
By the end of this year, China plans to ban 24 types of solid waste, including plastics, textiles and unsorted paper. The list of items banned from import is expected to grow longer by 2019 in categories that can be replaced by domestic sources, according to the action plan.
Along with the foreign garbage, other types of solid waste were listed as targets in the national campaign to control pollution because of their large volume and the hazards posed to the environment and public health. They include materials generated from industrial production, breeding farms and hospitals.
China generates considerable amounts of domestic solid waste annually - 4 billion tons of waste from livestock and poultry, 3.3 billion tons from plants and 1.35 million tons from hospitals. Moreover, the country has accumulated around 60 to 70 billion tons of solid waste, a figure that continues to grow and exacerbate environmental problems.
Mining is a particular source of concern.
"Of 8,345 tailing ponds, 90 percent are small scale but with high risks of environmental contamination," Zhang said, warning governments to take more precautions.
China has expanded its solidwaste processing capacity and has issued measures to control pollution in recent years. In 2015, 65 percent, or 1.99 billion tons, of solid waste from industrial production was processed and recycled - 13 percentage points more than in 2001.
But Zhang advocated additional measures, including revising related laws, improving management and carrying out stronger enforcement to reduce solid waste pollution. The result would be a better environment and improved public health, he said.
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(China Daily 11/02/2017 page4)