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July 19, 2017

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China to reject foreign garbage

CHINA told the World Trade Organization yesterday that it is to stop accepting shipments of rubbish such as waste plastic and paper as part of a campaign against foreign garbage.

The import ban, which will come into force by the end of the year, will also cover slag from steelmaking, and many kinds of waste wool, ash, cotton and yarn.

“We found that large amounts of dirty waste or even hazardous waste is mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This seriously polluted China’s environment,” China’s WTO filing said. “To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted.”

China is a major importer of waste. Last year, it imported 7.3 million tons of waste plastics, valued at US$3.7 billion, accounting for 56 percent of world imports.

The biggest foreign sources of that plastic were Japan and the United States, which accounted for roughly 10 percent of the volume each, according to data from the International Trade Center, a United Nations-WTO joint venture.

The same two countries are also the main sources of scrap paper going to China each year, accounting for half of the almost US$1 billion business between them.

China’s speedy development has seen it struggling to regulate waste disposal, leading to toxic waterways and cities blanketed in smog.

A nationwide survey of pollution sources is planned, and local authorities have been urged to speed things up by launching local investigations by the end of this month, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday.

On Sunday, the ministry said its inspectors had found a number of environmental violations by imported waste processing firms.

As of last Thursday, irregularities were found in 590 companies, or 66 percent of the firms inspected.


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