Shanghai Customs has shipped more than 600 tons of waste from overseas out of the country this year, most of it reprocessed plastics from Germany, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Sending it back was the best course of action, Customs said yesterday. If it had been dealt in China it would have caused secondary pollution with high treatment costs.
Apart from domestic cleanup campaign Blue Sky 2018, this year China joined Operation Demeter IV — a global Customs initiative to control cross-border shipment of waste — and is working with 15 international and regional organizations as well as 75 countries and regions in the fight against solid waste.
Between May 21 and July 23, 214 cases were reported and 37 warnings issued, with 326,000 tons of waste impounded.
Poland discovered a smuggling case involving more than 1,000 tons of solid waste and returned it to source.
Argentina seized 7,000 tons of polyethylene.
On September 13, British environmental protection authorities reported that they had detected some suspicious items in containers to be exported to China, 13 of which, weighing about 300 tons, were on their way to Shanghai.
China's General Administration of Customs then asked Shanghai Customs to monitor shipments and keep in contact with ports along the route to prevent false declarations or furtive discharge. Hong Kong Customs later stopped nine containers and had the owner send them back to Britain.
The other four arrived in Shanghai in September and remain under Customs supervision.
As part of Blue Sky 2018, Shanghai Customs has handled 11 criminal waste smuggling cases this year involving 34 suspects and 1,100 tons of waste.
In September, 15 people were arrested in Shanghai and neighboring provinces and 770 tons of waste seized. They are said to have obtained the waste from Italy, Germany and Japan, using forged documents, and were attempting to bring it into the country to sell.
From December 31, more types of waste will be added to the list of items not allowed into the country, including hardware, ships, auto parts, stainless steel, titanium, wood waste and scrap.
China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials in the 1980s and for years has been the world's largest importer.
As part of the green development drive, the government last year decided to phase out imports by the end of 2019, except for those containing resources for which there are no substitutes.