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China pollution

Hundreds arrested in 2017 for smuggling a mountain of waste into China

More than 90 firms ordered to shut down as environmental authority presses on with clampdown on pollution

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 2:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 3:47pm

Chinese authorities have arrested 259 people for smuggling more than 300,000 tonnes of waste into the country this year, the environment ministry said on Monday.

China told the World Trade Organisation in July that it would stop accepting imports of 24 types of foreign waste, including paper and textiles, by the end of this year, and that it would eventually ban shipments of all waste products readily available from domestic sources.

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The crackdown and ban on foreign rubbish, which reached as much as 47 million tonnes in 2015, has been a key element of China’s ongoing “war on pollution”. It is also part of the country’s efforts to move up the supply chain and ease its reliance on low-grade industries.

But while progress had been made, some regions were still failing to regulate the sector properly, allowing unscrupulous “illegal elements” to take advantage, said China Environmental News, the official publication of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The publication cited a case in Shantou, Guangdong province, in which 13 people were arrested for importing as much as 240,000 tonnes of plastic waste.

It said 1,074 enterprises – more than 60 per cent of the total involved in the sector – had broken regulations this year. As many as 871 firms had already been punished, with 94 ordered to stop operations completely, it said.

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Some of the lawbreaking firms were found to have applied for import permits despite not meeting industry requirements. Some deceived the authorities by covering up previous violations.

Another 44 used concealed pipes or pits to hide pollution discharges, while 98 had operated pollution control equipment improperly, China Environmental News said.